Michael Atherton

Composer, Musician and Author

What is your musical background?

I commenced my career as a self-taught musician while studying English, French, and History and Philosophy of Science at the University of New South Wales. After this I commenced music studies at the University of Sydney, and the University of New England, followed by a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney. I feel privileged to have composed and performed music in many genres and styles, including classical, jazz, early music, folk, screen and stage. I created a music department at Western Sydney University where I also led the development of a music therapy and teaching clinic.



What is your advice to singers performing your works?

Look to the words first and embrace their meaning. Aim for clear articulation and subtle shades of vocal tone.  Feel free to adapt features of my music, especially dynamics. Think about possible interpretations and elaboration, even the use of body or instrumental percussion.


Find songs by Michael:

Sleep Little Baby (treble unison with piano, and piano backing track)

Tartan Fairies (SSA)

Tartan Fairies (TBarB)

Everyone Goes to Bondi (two-part choir with piano)

O Lovely Mud! (treble unison with piano, and piano backing track)

Three Shakespeare Songs (SATB with solos)

I Saw Eternity the Other Night (SATB)

All the whales will sing (SA with piano)

What are your favourite pieces you’ve composed?

I list some of my film scores among my best earlier compositions (Brumby: Horse Run Wild; Admission Impossible, and Dogwatch). However, I love the human voice, especially the sound of young voices. Much of my recent music is for voices. I enjoy creating both words and music, as well as setting ancient texts and Shakespeare.