ANN CARR-BOYD was born in Sydney. Much of her childhood was occupied with art and music. Her mother, Nyora Chrissen, was an artist and her father and uncle, Norbert and Charles Wentzel, were musicians who played in the viola section of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Her father was a composer who had many works published and performed, and as he also taught piano and theory privately Ann grew up surrounded by musical activity.
Ann’s decision to become a commercial artist was overturned when she won a Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the University of Sydney and from then on her path seemed destined to be in the world of music. Under the inspirational and sometimes erratic guidance of Professor Donald Peart she became the first Bachelor of Music graduate in 1960, gaining first class honours. This was followed by a Master of Arts, (also gained with first class honours), in which she received a three year scholarship to research the early history of western music in Australia, a subject which at the time had barely been touched. Her thesis became a reference point for much of the research that followed and she herself has continued this early interest by contributing to radio programmes, articles and dictionaries, including the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Groves’ Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Following the Master of Arts degree she won the Sydney Moss Scholarship to study overseas, and from this point composition dominated her musical life. She studied composition in London with Peter Racine Fricker and later Alexander Goehr, gaining early success as a finalist in the Patron’s Fund Competition, when her first (and to this date only) symphony was performed by the Royal College Senior Orchestra under Sir Charles Groves. She attended many festivals of music and was swept up in the musical events that were happening in the 1960s in England and Europe.
She returned to Sydney in the late 1960s, not only with some rich musical experiences, but also with a husband, Peter Carr-Boyd, and two daughters, Xanthe and Katrina, who were born in England. Her third daughter, Susanna, was born in Sydney. In addition to her family life she has since then been occupied with composing, teaching, and giving masterclasses, lectures, and presenting programs on radio and in print, regarding Australian music and musicians.
Since the 1960s Ann has been writing in response to commissions and this has led to a wide variety of interests which has embraced music for film and television; orchestral music; music for piano, harpsichord and organ; vocal and chamber music and music for mandolin and guitar. Since 1996 she has had a close association with the Rev Dr Arthur Bridge, AM, and his inspirational music foundation, Ars Musica Australis, and many of her recent works have been commissioned by Ars Musica. They include the Piano Concerto No 2, the Violin Concerto, Romance for Flute and Orchestra and Fantasy for Harp and Orchestra.
Some memorable events have included
performances of the song cycle for soprano and piano, Museum Garden, in Hartford and New York in 2002
a long association with the Sydney Mandolins led by Adrian Hooper, an association which led to the composition of two of her most frequently performed and broadcast works, Fandango and Music for an Imaginary Italian Film
her association with Sydney pianist John Martin which has led to many performances and recordings of her piano music, both solo and with other instruments
her 70th birthday celebrations in 2008 which included performances of the Romance for Flute and Orchestra as part of the Aurora Festival in Sydney ; performances of Piano Concerto No 2 by soloist Evan Streater with the Wollongong Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carlos Alvarado ; the song cycle Museum Garden with Louise Page and Phillipa Candy in Canberra ; a special celebratory concert at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and a concert and event at the State Library of New South Wales titled ‘ Four Generations of Music ‘ in which her daughters, niece and brother performed music by herself, her father and grandfather.
Ann’s diverse musical interests are continuing with commissions in 2011, 2012 and 2013 which include music for guitar, piano, organ, violin ensemble, piano trio, mandolin orchestra and brass band.
Her publishers have included Allen’s Music, AE Albert, Currency Press, Red House, and more recently Carlisle Print, Wirripang and Kookaburra Music. Recorded music (mainly on the Jade and Wirripang labels) is available online through the internet and iTunes as well as ABC stores for those works on the ABC Classics label.
She appears in ‘ a photographic celebration of people living in the southern highlands ‘ - about face by Kate Heaslip
(published by Kate Heaslip and Associates/Wombat Arts - 2011 )
Women of Note
The rise of Australian Women Composers, by Rosalind Appleby
(published by Fremantle Press 2012 )
Biographical notes by Ann Carr-Boyd