Graham Hair, Director

Graham Hair has been director of Scottish Voices since 1991 and many of his compositions since then have been written for various different incarnations of the ensemble.  Many or most are for the “core” contingent: solo women’s voices (SSA, SAA or SSAA), either unaccompanied or (more often) accompanied by solo instrumentalist(s) (piano, harp, percussion, organ, harmonium, electro-acoustics), duo (eg cor anglais/harmonium), ensemble (eg piano/vibraphone/harp) or orchestra, as well as a few which also involve male voices (eg TTBB).

Although principally a composer and director of Scottish Voices, he has also undertaken many research projects, often with international collaborators and often from other disciplines (eg history, psychology, languages, engineering) which are able to shed light on musical problems.

He held posts at Adelaide University in the 1960s, at LaTrobe University, Melbourne, 1975-80, was Head of Composition, at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music through the decade 1980-90, and Professor of Music, Glasgow University 1990-2008.

As Professor Emeritus, he now divides his time between the UK, Australia and the United States.

In the UK he is Professor Emeritus of Glasgow University’s Music Department and Research Fellow of its Science and Music Research Group (School of Engineering). He was for several years (2009-2012) also Visiting Professor of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Contemporary Arts.

In Australia, he was Adjunct Professor at Monash University in Melbourne 1999-2005 and Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra in 2006-2007, as well as Co-Investigator — with Associate Prof Greg Schiemer (University of Wollongong) — on a research project on microtonal music funded by the Australian Research Council. During 2003-2007 he was Australia Council Composition Fellow, which funded him to write several works for Australian soloists, ensembles and choirs.

In the United States he conducts composer-residencies and concerts and records vocal chamber music. In 2009, he directed Scottish Voices on tour in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.  In 2011, he returned to Virginia with Scottish Voices and recorded tracks for the CD Music of Three Continents, issued in the US by Ravello Records in 2012. In 2019, he returned for a third time to the US with Scottish Voices for concerts and recordings in Virginia and Boston, and recorded tracks for the CD Crossing Musical Frontiers, to be issued by Ravello in 2020.  A fourth visit to the US will follow in June 2020: to record with the Borromeo Quartet (quartet in residence at the New England Conservatory in Boston).

His composition and research projects have attracted 9 awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the UK, 4 from the British Academy, 4 from the Scottish Arts Council, and single awards from the Carnegie (UK) and Potter (Australia) Trusts, and from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Performances of his music have been given in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling, Inverness, Manchester, London, Boston, San Francisco,  Virginia, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and many other places. He is currently undertaking commissions for Clemens Leske (pianist, Sydney Conservatorium and the Astra Choir (Melbourne).

Current recordings in progress, include, as well as the several Scottish Voices recordings for Ravello, a CD of microtonal music (including his own Sufi Fragments and Sufi Couplets) for the Tall Poppies label (Sydney) and a CD of his complete piano music, by pianist Martin Jones for the Nimbus label (UK).


Compositions (selected list)

Funding for the creation of many of these compositions was provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK, Creative Scotland, The Scottish Arts Council, The Australia Council, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Hope Scott Trust and the Covington Centre of Radford University. Details are given on the “About Us/SV Funding” page of this website. Details of other funded (research) projects appear below on this page.

Twelve Transcendental Concert Studies on Themes from the Australian Poets

       Naming the Stars
Press comment on Naming the Stars: (Larry Bartleet):
Each member of the trio had a solo piece. “Naming the Stars”, Higuma’s solo, was fantastic; ethereal and elegant, it floated along and filled the church with its delicate melody.

        Snatched Voices
        Epiphany of Light
        Rainbow Lorikeets
        Unearthing the Earth
        Boy with Flute
        Red Autumn in Valvins
        Wild Cherries and Honeycomb
        Dances and Devilment and Sunlit Airs
        Under Aldebaran
        Tch’mala: The Rainbow Serpent
        Measures of Fire
A selection of the Transcendental Concert Studies, played by Michael Kieran Harvey, was released on CD in 2008. A complete recording of the Transcendental Concert Studies, by Martin Jones, will be released in 2020

Octet with Voices

Octet for four women’s voices and string quartet, drawing on texts by three Australian poets: David Malouf, James McAuley and Judith Wright.

Press comment on Octet with Voices: The Melbourne Age (Clive O’Connell):
Pick of the program was the Hair work, a setting of poems by Malouf, McAuley and the famous Judith Wright lyric that gave the work its title. Here the four voices were put to brilliant use, notably in the colouful word-painting of Malouf’s Harmonice Mundi, and then a series of evocative solos for soprano Alison Morgan in To the Holy Spirit by Tasmania’s noted Catholic poet.

But for an ideal illustration of Hair’s insight into setting texts, the Wright poem proved most engaging and gripping. The voices moved together and apart with masterly variety, the text given its due and remaining clear even in verbally complex passages, the accompanying string quartet shimmering with excitement and providing a vivid commentary on the verbal content, separate but equal with the Halcyon voices and having the last say in a postlude of unabashed euphony and humanity: a most moving work, that we could easily have heard again.

The Glasgow Herald (Michael Tumelty):
Graham Hair’s plainly-titled Octet with Voices, in which four female singers from Scottish Voices joined with the Edinburgh Quartet in a performance conducted by the composer, was, in fact, far from plain. An exuberant triptych of settings of texts by David Malouf, James McAuley and Judith Wright, the beautifully-crafted Octet, which had all the colour and sensitivity of Ravel, lifted the concert onto a different level, with gleaming singing from the Scottish Voices, and the quartet’s best playing of the night.

Sacred Songbook

A multi-cultural cycle of motets to texts from the three principal “Abrahamic” traditions
Individual items include:
        Yigdal (in Hebrew)
        Asma al-Husna (in Arabic)
        Veni Creator (in Latin)
        Ecstasy and Enlightenment (from the Persian)
Ecstasy and Enlightenment is a sequence (for SSAA and string quartet) based on the Mystical Islamic poetry  of Jelaluddin Rumi, in the elegant Edwardian (1903) translations of Glasgow theologian William Hastie (based in turn on the German versions of Friedrich Ruckert). An earlier version of this work was written for soprano, clarinet and string quartet (further information below).

American Waltzes

 Five Paraphrases of American Popular Songs:
        Can’t help singing (Jerome Kern)
        Won’t you buy my dreams of love (Vernon Duke)
        By Strauss (George Gershwin)
        Just One Way (Irving Berlin)
        Out of my dreams (Richard Rodgers)

Church Music

Composed mostly for: Glasgow University Chapel Choir, conducted by Stuart Campbell and the Astra Chamber Choir (Melbourne), conducted by John McCaughey:
        Hymn to St Peter
        Dancing, Piping, Drumming (carol)
       O Fiery Spirit (anthem)
       Nunc Dimittis

Vernacular Paraphrases

Paraphrases of American popular songs for SAA and piano;  the selection of items includes several by Harold Arlen:
       Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Harold Arlen)
       I got a right to sing the blues (Harold Arlen)
       Come on, get happy (Harold Arlen)

Works featuring Microtonal Tuning

This group of works includes several different items, for different combinations of voices and instruments:
       Three Songs from the Turkish
(Texts from Yunus Emre (1238–1320), translated into English by Süha Faiz).

       Avvon d’Bishmaya
(The Lord’s Prayer, in Aramaic)
       Sufi Fragments
(Texts from Yunus Emre (1238–1320), translated into English by Süha Faiz)
       Sufi Couplets
(Texts from Yunus Emre (1238–1320), translated into English by Süha Faiz).
This group of works began with the Three Songs from the Turkish, which
was the outcome of the Rosegarden Codicil Project. The Principal Investigator for this project (2006–2007) was Dr Ingrid Pearson, Deputy Director of the Graduate School, Royal College of Music. For this project, three microtonal songs (based on the tempered scale with 19 tones per octave) were composed, and workshopped with the musicians (Ingrid herself on clarinet, with soprano Amanda Morrison), in order to develop (via technological assistance from engineers Dr Nick Bailey and Dr Dougie McGilvray and advice on psychological aspects from Dr Richard Parncutt) some guidelines about the extent and limits of the musicians’ perceptual and performing capacities with regard to microtonal materials. The outcome of this project was Three Songs from the Turkish for Soprano, Clarinet (or Yamaha Digital Wind Controller) and Harmonium.

A more recent performance was prepared for a presentation at the International Computer Music Conference (Queen’s University, Belfast, August 27, 2008) by Lisa Swayne (Soprano), Alex South (Yamaha Digital Wind Controller) and Graham Hair (Digital Harmonium). A video-recording of this performance will soon be available from the media/video page of this website.

Australian Fellowship Works

Project begun in 2003-2005, extended to 2007. Works produced include:
        Frenzy and Folly, Fire and Joy
        A Wind Symphony

        Shouts and Dances

        The Six Days of Creation (Texts by James McAuley)
        Harmonice Mundi (on Themes from the Australian Poets)

 Frenzy and Folly, Fire and Joy has been performed by clarinettists Roslyn Dunlop, Craig Hill and Peter Handsworth, and recorded on commercial CD by both Ms Dunlop and Mr Handsworth. A performance of Frenzy and Folly, Fire and Joy, by clarinettist Murray Khouri, was video-recorded in the Glasgow University Chapel in 2010. This video-recording will appear soon in the media/video page of this website. PDF and audio files of the other works will soon be downloadable from the media/scores and media/audio pages of this website.

Lament for Hagia Sophia

Commissioned by Cappella Nova Choir, Glasgow (conductor Alan Tavener), with funding from the Scottish Arts Council. Recorded by the Astra Chamber Choir (Melbourne), April 2008, and by Scottish Voices in 2018.

The Great Circle

Symphony for Voices and Orchestra
Chamber version for voices, two pianos and percussion
Part 1: Into the South
Part 2: The Flow of Occurenceone or more funding bodies

Into the Shores of Light

Work recorded on commercial CD by the Czech Radio Symphony, cond Robert Ian Winstin, 2007.
Press comment on Into the Shores of Light:
The Glasgow Herald (Michael Tumelty):
Graham Hair’s deliciously eclectic Into the Shores of Light, inspired by the Australian composer’s native coastal landscape: another piece which, in its dazzling orchestral palette, and its seductive swirling, Ravel-like rushes of colour, could have an immediate effect in mainstream orchestral programming.

O Venezia

O Venezia is an on-going composition/performance project for SSAA/harp … from 2004 to the present: one of several works on Venetian themes, for the women’s voices of the Halcyon Ensemble (Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne), Pandora’s Vox (Boston) and Scottish Voices (Glasgow). A complete recording of O Venezia is currently being prepared for CD release. The component parts of the complete work are:
Cantata 1 (Star of the Sea)
Cantata 2 (Waters Richer than Glass)
Cantata 3 (To Work, To Meditate, To Warn)

Press comment on O Venezia: Fanfare USA (Colin Clarke):

The very first track gives you some idea of the power of this disc (entitled Music from Three Continents). Closely recorded, it is an explosion of sound and exuberance. The first five tracks comprise Graham Hair’s O Venezia for four solo female voices and harp. Apparently inspired by Wagner’s account of a sleepless night in Venice and of the sounds he might have encountered from his balcony, Hair has taken this idea and responded with simply dazzling vocal writing. It is not until the third movement, Ave Maris stella, that we get some sense of repose (it begins with a plainchant statement before a harp joins the argument and polyphony blossoms). The texts are either by Venetians or are related to Venice in some other way, taking in the ancient (Ave Maris stella) and the much more recent (Luigi Nono). The performance is simply stunning, and Hair’s imagination seems to know no bounds. The final movement, also entitled, O Venezia, is magnificently poignant in its use of spoken text. Apparently O Venezia is a “progressively accumulating song-cycle,” as the promotional material has it, so one looks forward to more.

Mediterranean Songs

Song-cycle for 2, 3 or 4 women’s voices and piano, to texts (in Italian) by Salvatore Quasimodo
(i) Duets (soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano):
        Eros, the Woodcutter
        O Seashell
(ii) Trios (2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano and piano, or soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos and piano):
        Tender Adonis is Dying
        The Full Moon was Shining
        Eros, Lord of the Gods
(iii) Quartet (2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos and piano):
        The Horses are Returning
Recordings of the 8 duet components of this song-cycle are presented on the media/audio page of this website. The trio and quartet components will be added soon. A CD recording of the whole cycle is in the pipeline.

Hebridean Verses

Song-cycle for soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano, to texts from the Carmina Gadelica:
        1.The Wild Violet
        2. The Shamrock
        3. St John’s Wort
        4. Columba’s Plant
        5. Myrtle
        6. The Passion Flower
        7. The Pearlwort
        8. Silverweed
        9. The Yarrow
        10. The Aspen
        11. The Reed
        12. Seaweed

Latin-American Carols (first book)

Song-cycle for 4 women’s voices and marimba, to 17th-century texts from Puebla Cathedral, Mexico, in Spanish
        1.Al dormir el Sol
        2. Hermoso amor
        3. Serenissma una noche
        4. A la xacara xacarilla
        5. De carambos el dia
        6. Las estreyas se rien
        7. Al dichoso nacer
        8. Vaya vaya
        9. Tarara tarara
        10. Un ciego
        11. Ay como flecha
        12. Los que fueren
        13 . Venid venid zagalas

Research Projects

Don Banks and Matyas Seiber Project

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK. Now part of the larger Australian Modernism and Afterwards and Matyas Seiber Projects (see below). Articles from the Don Banks and Matyas Seiber project: “Don Banks, Matyas Seiber and mixed musical identity”.

Keith Humble Project

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK. Now part of the larger Australian Modernism and Afterwards and Matyas Seiber Projects (see below).

Data Framework Project 

Project to provide an infrastructure for the for the processing, storage and manipulation of musical information and to present this information is a manner which is immediately useful to those involved in (mono-disciplinary and) inter-disciplinary music research.
The Principal Investigator for this project is Dr Nick Bailey (Glasgow) with myself as Co-Investigator
Project currently under development.

Current Issues in Music Journal Project 

Co-editors: Dr Ruth Lee Martin (Australian National University) and Dr Linda Kouvaras (Melbourne University)

Musica Scotica: 800 Years of Scottish Music Conferences Project

Since 2005, Conferences have been held in most years during the last week of April or the first week of May. Proceedings of the 2004 and 2005 conferences have been published (co-edited with Heather Kelsall and Dr Kenneth Elliot).

Australian Modernism and Afterwards Project

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the UK and by the National Library of Australia (Harold White Fellowship)

This project gathers together, and is an on-going development of, a number of earlier studies on Australian 20th/21st-century topics:

* The Keith Humble Project (see details below)
* The Don Banks and Matyas Seiber Project (see details below)
* The Loose Canons Project (see details below)
* The Sitsky at Seventy-Five Project: In Search of New Worlds
* The Australian Modernism Project

Articles from these projects:
* The Melbourne Schoenberg Diaspora: Studies towards an Intellectual History of Australian Modernism
“Dramatic Narrative and Musical Narrativity in Gillian Whitehead’s Hotspur
“Keith Humble’s Modernism: from homogenous motivic-thematic organicism to heterogenous gestural constructivism”
* “The Interaction of Conflicting Forces in Keith Humble’s Career, Musical Identity and Compositional Process, as Reflected in A Little Sonata in Two Parts
* Caution and Recklessness: Pitch-Class Structure and Physical Gesture in Keith Humble’s Cello Suite
* Aspects of the Emergence of Modernism in Australian Music: The Keith Humble Sources in the National Library of Australia

The output concerning Don Banks has now split into several separate components:
Don Banks, Australian Composer: Eleven Sketches
(forthcoming) Meeting Place: The Music of Don Banks.
This more comprehensive volume will include updated versions of the articles from the volume Don Banks, Australian Composer: Eleven Sketches plus further studies previously given as conference or colloquium papers
Editions of several early scores by Don Banks will soon be downloadable soon from the media/score page of this website.
        One for Murray
        I’m Easy

Notis Musycall Project

Festschrift for Dr Kenneth Elliott at 75

* “Vocabulary, Syntax and Rhetoric in Thomas Wilson’s Fourth String Quartet”

Tonality After Atonality Project

Under development

Companion to Recent Scottish Music Project

Funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Pierrot Lunaire Project

Empirical Study of Vocal Techniques in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire
The Principal Investigator for this project is Jane Manning (international soprano)
Co-Investigators: Dr Nick Bailey and Mr Doug McGilvray (Glasgow University: Electronics) and myself.
Project currently under development.

Loose Canons Project

Studies of Australian women composers, deriving from the conference Loose Canons at the Australian National University in 2001. Now part of the larger Australian Modernism and Afterwards Project (see above)

Presentations at Conferences and Colloquia

Ideas and Outputs (including performances) generated by various research projects have been presented at conferences and colloquia in many different places. Selected conferences and colloquia include:

Animusic Portugal Annual Congress and Performance, Belmonte, Portugal: Perspectives on Microtonal Composition and Performance, report on research in progress, September 20, 2019

Animusic Portugal Annual Congress and Performance, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal: Perspectives on Microtonal Composition and Performance, report on research in progress, July 2018

Animusic Portugal Annual Congress and Performance, Porto, Portugal: Perspectives on Microtonal Composition and Performance, report on research in progress, July 2017

Animusic Portugal Annual Congress and Performance, Tavira, Portugal: Perspectives on Microtonal Composition and Performance, report on research in progress, December 2015

Animusic Portugal Annual Congress and Performance, Braga, Portugal: Perspectives on Microtonal Composition and Performance, report on research in progress, December 2014

Monash University, Melbourne (Conference on British Music): Matyas Seiber’s Late Music: Between British and Central European Cultures, Between Developing Variation and Constructivism, Sept 17-19, 2010

Sheffield University, UK (Sixth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology): Consonance and Dissonance in Music Theory and Music Psychology, July 23-24, 2010

The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester: Empiricism and Listening: Remarks on the Relationship between Measurement, Analysis and Interpretation, March 19, 2010

Auckland University, New Zealand (Second International Symposium on Performance Science): Taking Microtonal Composition and Performance from the Periphery into the Mainstream, December 15-18, 2009

The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK (“Listening, Audiences and Participation” Colloquium): Empiricism and Listening: Remarks on the Relationship between Measurement, Analysis and Interpretation, November 16-17, 2009

The University of Newcastle, Australia (32nd Annual Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia): Keith Humble’s “Poèmes”: A Choral Bridge between French Surrealist Literature and Modernism in Australian Music, September 26-29, 2009 (Presentation funded by the British Academy)

The Australian National University (School of Music Research Conference): “Reconstructive” Postmodernism, September 12-13, 2009

Pluscarden Abbey, Morayshire, Scotland (Conference on Sacred Music in Scotland): Thomas Wilson’s Sacred Music and Sacred Songbook: A Project for the Twenty-first Century, September 3-5, 2009

Sydney Australia (The Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference): An introduction to my “Twelve Transcendental Concert Studies on Themes from the Australian Poets”, July 17-18, 2009

Glasgow University (“The Anatomy of Listening” Colloquium): Listening Carefully to “Mondestrunken” and “Galgenlied”, with Dr Jane Manning (Kingston University) and Ben Hillman (Glasgow University), June 13/14, 2009 (Presentation funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh)

Royal College of Music, London (Grove Forum): Empirical Studies of Musical Performance: Measurement, Analysis & Interpretation, January 15, 2009

University of Melbourne (31st Annual Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia): Keith Humble’s Modernism: From Homogenous Motivic-thematic Organicism to Heterogenous Gestural Constructivism, December 6, 2008
Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra (Late Style: Conference):Schoenberg’s “Kol Nidre”, August 21/22, 2008

Queen’s University, Belfast (2008 International Computer Music Conference): The Rosegarden Codicil: Rehearsing Music in Nineteen-Tone Equal Temperament, August 27, 2008

Aristotle University, Thessaloniki: Fourth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, July 2008

Glasgow University: Department of Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) Study Day, June 14, 2008

Aberdeen University, Department of Music, February 1, 2008

Stirling University, Department of Psychology (Scottish Perception Day): All in the Mind: Perceiving and Interpreting the Musical Structure of The Harmonious Blacksmith, December 2007

Napier University, Edinburgh: Department of Music, November 7, 2007

Boston College: Department of Music, October 2007

Radford University, Virginia: Departments of Music, Psychology and Appalachian Studies (3 different colloquia), April 2007

Stirling University, Department of Psychology (Scottish Perception Day): Thinking and Performing Microtonally: Rehearsal Strategies in 19ET using the Rosegarden Codicil, December 2006

Queen Mary College, University of London: Digital Music Research Network Conference, December 2006m

Edinburgh University: Department of Music: Bringing the Marginal into the Mainstream: Overcoming the Problems of Thinking, Composing and Performing Microtonally, November 2006

University of New England, Armidale, Australia: Musicological Society of Australia Conference, September 2006
Royal College of Music, London: Rehearsing Microtonal Music, 18 May 200

Monash University, Melbourne (Conference on British Music): Matyas Seiber’s Late Music: Between British and Central European Cultures, Between Developing Variation and Constructivism, Sept 17-19, 2010

Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama: Between Hardware and Protein: Pig in the Middle, 18 February 2006

Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia, September 2005 and September 2006

Boston University School of Music, 2004

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia: Symposium of the International Musicological Society, July 2004 (Presentation funded by the British Academy)

Australian National University School of Music, 2004

Birmingham University, Stratford Study Centre: British Music Study Day, May 2003

Kingston University, London: School of Music Rhythmic Levels in Matyas Seiber: Tonal, Intervallic and Gestural Turnover, 12 February, 2003

King’s College, University of London: Music Department: Tonality and Atonality in Matyas Seiber, 25 February, 2002