Composer 2022: Wade Gregory “Shepparton High School (1909-2019)”

Somewhat of a chameleon composer, Wade Gregory is comfortable and active in multiple genres. A specialist in jazz and world music, he has composed and arranged for 18-piece jazz orchestras, 10- piece ensemble West End Composer’s Collective, and recently re- imagined 16 James Bond songs for a local jazz cabaret show. His pieces have been played by Brazilian bands Coisa Linda and Brisbane Choro Ensemble; he travelled to Jiayuguan China to hear a brass quintet composition played by Best of Brass, and has even composed for the unusual combination of jazz piano, guitar, erhu and guzheng.
Since moving to Shepparton several years ago, Wade has started working in orchestral and theatrical settings. Recent work include compositions for Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra, Grainger Wind Symphony, assorted chamber works, and re-orchestrating over 20 musical theatre numbers for Shepparton Theatre Arts Group’s (STAG) 40th anniversary concert. In 2016 he composed music for STAG’s world premiere of John Head’s new play “Dookie”, including several pieces for orchestra and string quartet. The last two years have been consumed with writing, editing, and orchestrating “Dookie: The Musical. In 2018 Wade won the Matt Withers Composition Competition, and his work Water Music was premiered and recorded by guitarist Matt Withers with the Acacia Quartet.

This is the second time he has been selected.

PROGRAM NOTES “Shepparton High School (1909-2019)

The education minister arrives to announce the closure of Shepparton High School, and a new 3000-student “super school” will be built in its place. Students and staff are frantic: they run around, clearing rooms, throwing everything out, and prepare to be dispersed into three separate campuses.

In the midst of this panic the school holds a “Farewell Weekend” where past students and staff return to reminisce, to cry, and to gather as a community one last time. But the bulldozers wait for no-one: time is running out, so it’s back to final preparations before the final bell tolls.

The musical structure of “Shepparton High School: 1909-1919” reflects this timeline: government announcement, mad panic, reflective nostalgia, followed by even madder panic. It balances dissonant harmonies with warmth, energetic rhythms with calm reflection, yet remains united throughout by strong melodic themes and teamwork between the band’s sections.

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