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John Arthur Grant

“I was drawn to the imponderable as a child. Sounds of excitement, soothing, deep emotion, and just pure fun. A parallel universe connecting me with the wider world, which at the same time took me deep inside myself. I’m finally coming close to realising some of my musical dreams.”

John’s music brings together the two main strands of his early influences – classical and rock music – to forge his own distinctive styles. His post-classical compositions can be strongly rhythmic, but there’s a lyrical and melodic side that he likes to give equal attention to. Similarly, he’s a lover of simple emotionally-lifting chord movements, but also likes to turn to complex harmonic structures on ocassions. Interweaving these seemingly diverse elements makes for music that is enthralling and often challenging, but that always holds interest.

Music can lead to all kinds of unexpected adventures. In John’s case….

* Dreamed of playing in progressive rock bands, and performed on the TV show Countdown.

* Travelled from Melbourne to Broome, about as far as you can go and still be in Australia, just to perform once in an aircraft hangar.

* Enjoyed working in recording studios, but didn’t imagine it would lead to becoming a “session musician”, or that he would gain enough engineering skills to make a pro home studio a reality.

* Lusted after the sonic possibilities of synthesizers, along with pianos and organs, and owned many fine examples.

* Performed on the famous Melbourne Town Hall organ.

* Programmed a synthesizer to sound like a pipe organ at Melb Town Hall, when the real thing was out of commission.

* Played a Fringe Festival show with totally improvised ensemble Now! Here! This! where the only performance direction was, “We are frogs in a pond”.

* Became Musical Director for legendary Australian pop vocalists Colleen Hewett, Johnny Young, Brian Cadd, Mike Brady, and other corporate rock acts.

* Found that he enjoyed solving the little musical puzzles involved in composing advertising music; “jingles”, as they’re commonly known.

* Conducted synthesizer and music technology training sessions and demonstrations all around Australia and NZ, and throughout Asia, including twice in Tehran.

* Was ahead of his time playing and writing for two-man all-synthesizer bands Random Sample and Dialog.

* Found himself at the home of Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, and in meetings with Korg founder Tsutomu Katoh.

* Travelled from his Melbourne base to Christchurch, Cairns, Abu Dhabi and many more places, just to do a single short performance.

* Discovered that arranging music on computer software meant that his bad hand-writing was taken out of the equation, leading to years of arranging work for Channel 9’s Carols By Candlelight and other live-to-air broadcasts, and for Hugh Jackman, Jerry Lewis, and hundreds more clients.

* Improvised with the Terminal Quartet at the Make It Up Club, partly with fingers in ears when the performer next to him got a little too loud.

* Fascinated with sonic art, sound design, new and experimental music, he composed and designed an installation for sound art festival Sonic Residues 02 at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

* Met a puppeteer and ended up composing five soundtracks for Dream Puppets, most of them 40 minutes long, with no dialog interrupting. This chance meeting lead to his music being heard all around Australia, and overseas festivals, and an award for Best Music at the 2nd Nanchong International Puppet Art Week, May 2017.

* Written music for instruments that he previously knew little about, such as cello, bassoon, bass flute, and basett horn.

Took part in Music For 300 Strangers, a collaborative online project incorporating over 300 musicians around the world, for Piano Day 2020.


Further dreams and adventures will be reported here. This full history as a working musician serves only to propel him forward as he now concentrates on composing solely for his own projects and commissions. Two directions define his current practice:

* Solo piano pieces, or piano with sparse accompaniment. An album is in pre-production.

* Concert works for solo instruments or small ensembles, and choir. Recent performances:

– Monash University Flute Ensemble performed Alighting no.1 for 6 flutes, at 2 concerts in Melbourne, Oct 2018. As well as standard flutes, the work is written for alto, bass, contrabass, and optional sub-contrabass flutes.

– Inventi Ensemble/Matthew Angus performed 6 Abbreviations for Solo Bassoon, at 3 concerts in Melbourne, July 2016.

– Peter Sheridan performed Henso-Kyoko #1 Variations for Solo Flutes at the Subterranean Sonorities concert for Melbourne Composers League, Nov 2016.

– Astra Choir performed Notes From The Borigove at their final concert for 2016 in Melbourne, and Australian Voices followed up with a further performance in Brisbane, March 2017, and a studio recording, details to be announced.

– A trio of clarinets performed Seven Rejoinders for Winds (various arrangements are available) at the East Meets West concert for Melbourne Composers League, 3 Sept 2017.

– His next work for choir is in the planning stages.

John continues to find ways to interweave the musics that he’s loved and admired for half a century, and to further develop his own individual voice.

He is a member of Melbourne Composers League, the Australian Music Centre, the Astra Chamber Music Society, Music Victoria, the Music Arrangers Guild of Australia, a supporter of Cut Common, New Music Network, Rehearsal Magazine, and a subscriber to 3MBS-FM Melbourne. He volunteers for the music industry charity Support Act.