The Australian Art Orchestra is committed to excellence and innovation in contemporary music with an emphasis on improvisation. It explores the meeting points between disciplines and cultures, and imagines new musical forms to reflect the energy and diversity of 21st century Australia.
Founded by Paul Grabowsky in 1994, The Australian Art Orchestra has built an unparalleled reputation for the breadth and quality of its output. Initially conceived as a contemporary jazz orchestra the group was soon recognised as a serious commissioner and interpreter of new notated works. It also developed a reputation for cross-cultural collaborations that were more ambitious than anything seen in Australian music previously and it delved into hybrid forms well before the terminology for such approaches became commonplace.
The AAO’s work constantly seeks to stretch genres and break down the barriers separating disciplines, forms and cultures. It explores the interstices between the avant-garde and the traditional, between art and popular music, between electronic and acoustic approaches, and creates works that traverse the continuum between improvised and notated forms.
In January 2013, the AAO entered a new period of artistic leadership under the guidance of Artistic Director, Peter Knight. Knight is an internationally acclaimed composer, trumpeter and sound artist who has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, garnering wide acclaim for an eclectic approach that integrates jazz, world music, and experimental traditions.
With its multi-faceted programming initiatives, the AAO fosters and supports a strong and vibrant local contemporary music scene drawing inspiration from Australia’s cultural diversity. Central to this is an ongoing dedication to nurturing and deepening its dialogues with Australian indigenous cultures as well as maintaining strong connections with artistic collaborators in India, Korea, China and Indonesia. The Orchestra has a record of commitment to the notion of a future in which truly new music that integrates Asian and Western influences is part of the cultural fabric of our region.
The Australian Art Orchestra regularly tours both locally and internationally with recent cities including , Toronto, Paris, London, Brisbane and Chennai. It has won numerous awards for its work including three Australian Jazz Bell awards (most recently in 2014), a 2010 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards (Group Award), the H C Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship (2010), a Helpmann Award (2004), and a 2009 Classical Music award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Australian Music in a Regional Area’.