Composers & WorksHollis Taylor

Ilparpa Road 2.3 2023 and Arltunga 2023
for violin and pied butcherbird
Composed by Hollis Taylor and Jon Rose (joint work)
Composed for Natalie Mavridis

Program Note:

"Ilparpa Road 2.3, 2023 and Arltunga 2023 summon audiences to the sound world of another species. Thirteen million years ago, pied butcherbirds separated from the common Corvid ancestor and evolved a preference for song. In spring, birds perform nocturnal long songs of up to seven hours in duration. No two individuals sing alike, and their songs transform annually. Our task is not to “improve” on a bird’s song but to celebrate their musical achievements. In our (re)compositions, human musicians play a detailed transcription of a bird’s song, as well as complement the recorded birdsong with various sonic strategies like melodic inversion, augmentation, transposition, and counterpoint. Recorded in Central Australia in 2023, they are performed here without pause." —Hollis Taylor and Jon Rose

About the composer:

Violinist/composer, zoömusicologist, and ornithologist Hollis Taylor is an ARC Future Fellow at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Previous research fellowships include the Institute for Advanced Study (Berlin), Museum of Natural History (Paris), University of Technology Sydney, and Macquarie University.

Taylor performs her (re)compositions of avian songs on violin along with her field recordings, and also rethinks pied butcherbird repertoire for other human instruments and voices. Central to her compositional ethos is celebrating avian achievements rather than adding human “improvements.”

Recent commissions include from Kronos Quartet, Ensemble Offspring, and Musica Viva, and the Australia Council supported a birdsong concerto for recorder, performed by Genevieve Lacey and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonia, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to her double CD Absolute Bird and monograph Is Birdsong Music?, she is also author of Post Impressions: A Travel Book for Tragic Intellectuals, which documents her bowing fences in Australia with Jon Rose.

For more about Hollis, visit:

For more about co-composer Jon Rose, visit here.

Commissioned by the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) as part The ANAM Set 2024 and written for Natalie Mavridis, with its world premiere during ANAM’s 2024 recital season at the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne. The ANAM Set 2024 has been assisted by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its arts funding and advisory body, and ANAM.

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