Our Secondary & Tertiary Programs

Composer & Education Workshops

What are Ensemble Offspring Composer & Education Workshops?

Ensemble Offspring is dedicated to educating and fostering an understanding of Australian music, introducing the innovative work of today to listeners of all ages. We believe it is vital to support musical development from school age all the way through to emerging professional artists. Our composer workshops cater for high school and tertiary students.

Recently we have been involved in MLC’s Australian Music Days, Richard Gill Presents at the City Recital Hall, Santa Sabina’s Australian Composition Seminar as well as many workshops with tertiary students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, ANU School of Music and WAAPA/University of Western Australia. Upcoming sessions are being planned with composers at Elder Conservatory, University of Tasmania and University of Melbourne. Over the years we have developed several composer kits with the Australian Music Centre and we are also currently developing high school workshops and composer sessions for the NSW curriculum, focusing on Australian music of the past 25 years – our speciality!

Upcoming Workshops

Australian Composition Day 2022

The annual Australian Composition Day is hosted by Santa Sabina College, Strathfield. This year our featured Australian composers are Nardi Simpson (Ensemble Offspring’s First Nations Composer in Residence) and Damian Barbeler. The 2021 educational kit is available below, and Ensemble Offspring will be in residence at Santa Sabina College in 2022.


Recent Education Workshops

Australian Composition Day (2021)

Hosted by Santa Sabina College, Australian Composition Day 2021 was conducted online due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Featured Australian composers Nardi Simpson (Ensemble Offspring’s First Nations Composer in Residence) and Damian Barbeler produced digital workshops which can be viewed below.

Workshop 1: Nardi Simpson Of Stars and Birds (2020)
Workshop 2: Damian Barbeler Visiting Eucalyptus (2018)

ANU Composer Workshops (2020)

Throughout Semester 1 2020, Ensemble Offspring along with the composition department at ANU (led by Frank Millwood) reimagined a project that was to be in person as part of the CIMF. Zoom workshops ensued and compositional instructional videos were created for clarinet, flute and percussion. The 20 composers wrote for the trio who recorded at home to a click track and the results were deemed a success by all.


MLC Australian Music Days (2020)

MLC’s annual Australian Music Days was an online event in 2020 and featured Ensemble Offspring. The composers wrote for solo instruments (flute, clarinet and percussion) and the musicians gave detailed video feedback after recording their works on video for use in the students’ portfolios. Tristan Coelho and Holly Harrison created a high quality composition kit featuring Dissemble, the new work by Nicole Murphy and Holly Harrison’s Vibe Rant. Available soon via the AMC.



The International Summer Academy of Music (ISAM) is a prestigious summer institution founded in 2005. Since 2010 it has been located in the Landesmusikakademie Baden-Württemberg in Germany. In 2019 it was held in Noosa (Australia) and Ensemble Offspring was in residence. The two-week academy, aimed at selected composers from across the globe included high quality workshops, seminars, lectures, rehearsals, concerts and a final competition.


Voyage of Musical Discovery (2018)

Legendary conductor and music educator Richard Gill AO and the Australian Romantic Classical Orchestra were on a Voyage of Musical Discovery before Richards’ passing at the end of 2018. Ensemble Offspring was honoured to be part of this new series and Richard was in his element breaking down works of classical and new music on stage at the CRH. In Texture & Timbre we presented new works commissioned by Ensemble Offspring by Holly Harrison, Cassie To and Bree van Reyk.


Young & Emerging Composers Lab (2018)

Presented by TURA New Music with WAAPA and UWA
Ensemble Offspring workshopped four selected compositions by Olivia Bettina Davies (UWA), Ryan Burge (ECU), Nate Wood (UWA) and Annika Moses (ECU) who had their new works presented in an informal showing at the Subiaco Arts Centre at the end of the three day residency.


Three & Under Workshops (2014)

As part of our Three and Under regional trio tour, Ensemble Offspring presented community workshops in Coffs Harbour and Gosford hosted by the regional conservatoriums. Featuring John Cage inspired found-sound activities and an introduction to new ways of listening, these workshops were for inquisitive ears of all ages and all experience levels.



Australian Composition Day 2021

Composition workshop presentations created by composers Nardi Simpson and Damian Barbeler for Australian Composition Day 2021.

Workshop 1: Nardi Simpson – Of Stars and Birds (2020)
Workshop 2: Damian Barbeler – Visiting Eucalyptus (2018)

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Of Stars and Birds

by Nardi Simpson
Created for the 2021 Australian Composition Day, hosted by Santa Sabina College. This education kit explores Nardi Simpson’s piece Of Stars and Birds (2020), beginning with the traditional Yuwaalaraay story of the creation of the Southern Cross constellation, and describing Nardi’s process for composing birdsong.


Bilby’s Bluegum Melodies

By Claire Edwardes & Anna Kamaralli
Bilby’s Bluegum Melodies was created by Ensemble Offspring as an introduction for young audiences to ‘living’ Australian chamber music. Activities in the kit were designed with pre-school and Stage 1 primary school students in mind, but can be adapted for older children too. All the music performed in ‘Bilby’s Bluegum Melodies’ was written by Australian composers, most of whom are still living and creating music.

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Cycles & Circles

By James Humberstone
James Humberstone’s chamber work ‘Cycles and Circles’ was commissioned by Ensemble Offspring for premiere on their regional Music to Infinity tour in 2012. This education kit was co-commissioned by the Campbelltown City Council to encourage high school students in the area to participate in both education workshops and the concert itself. James Humberstone was inspired by the name of the concert series to write a piece which could be performed an infinite number of times and never be the same. Drawing on his own studies of experimental music, he created a new work with aleatoric elements but more importantly for this education kit, hundreds of jumping-off points for young composers to utilise.

Download Purchase from AMC

MLC Australian Music Days Teaching Resource Kit 2020

By Tristan Coelho & Holly Harrison
The MLC AMD 2020 kit features listening guides and composition activities that explore the two set works by female Australian composers Nicole Murphy and Holly Harrison, igniting students’ musical imaginations. Nicole’s new duo for clarinet and percussion, ‘Dissembled’ was commissioned by MLC in partnership with Ensemble Offspring. Holly Harrison’s ‘Vibe Rant’ (also commissioned by Ensemble Offspring) is the second work in the package. Included are a Composition Toolkit, Performances, Analysis and specific compositional feedback.

Purchase from AMC

Light for the First Time

By Students of Sydney Conservatorium of Music & Bree van Reyk
This website comprises Recordings, Interviews, Analysis and a small database of compositional activities created by Music Education students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (under advisor James Humberstone). These activities are based around composition techniques used in ‘Light for the First Time’ written for Ensemble Offspring by Bree van Reyk. All resources are provided as part of the website.   


Dance with Nature - the chamber music of Ross Edwards

By Philip Cooney
Dance with Nature – the chamber music of Ross Edwards’ by Philip Cooney, has been especially designed for secondary and tertiary level students. Activities have been prepared for seven short works by Ross Edwards. The kit contains easy-to-use question and activity sections, musical examples, classroom arrangements of music, an interview with the composer, and is also accompanied by a CD from the performance by Ensemble Offspring at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith. 


Stepping Stones - teacher resource kit

By Damien Ricketson and James Humberstone
‘Stepping Stones’ is an education resource for senior secondary and tertiary music students. The kit comprises in-class and take-home activities including listening, performing, composing and analysis. The first section is an investigation of the work, Same Steps, by Australian composer Damien Ricketson. The analysis focuses on the concept of the open-form in contemporary classical composition and introduces students to many new musical devices such as unconventional musical notation and the use of microtones. Practical activities and further listening complement the analysis. The second section investigates the works of the four student finalists from the 2007 Sibelius Composer Competition.