Over a thirty year period working in the university sector, my principal research has involved the creation of original musical works and the performance and recording of new contemporary musical repertoire. Between 1988 and 1990 I was the foundation pianist of the contemporary ensemble Perihelion, which commissioned and performed many new works by Australian composers during this period. Since joining the academic staff of Newcastle University in 1990, I have continued to compose, but since I have a large teaching studio involving one-to-one as well as class teaching and postgraduate supervision, my ability to continue my creative work is often intermittent. Despite this constraint, I have managed to write at least one work per year (sometimes more), and have recently completed a commission from the University to compose a large work celebrating the 150th anniversary in 2009 of local government in Newcastle. This work was premiered in Newcastle town hall on Nov. 1, 2009 with an orchestra of seventy-six performers, four vocal soloists and a choir drawn from members of the Conservatorium, university and chamber choirs. Present projects include arrangements for violin, piano and other instruments of well-known hymns for projected CD release in 2011/12.
- Graduate Diploma in Music, Queensland Conservatorium of Music, 03/11/1979
- Bachelor of Arts (Music), Queensland Conservatorium of Music
- Music composition and analysis
- Music performance
1. Musical performance relating to contemporary performance practice and styles.
2. Original musical composition.
3. Currently enrolled in PhD programme.
Fields of Research
|1995||The Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition|
Newcastle Conservatorium of Music (Australia)
The composition prize mentioned below is the only one of its type in Australia. Its winners over the years have included many important Australian composers.
Head of composition division.
- Music composition and piano teaching
1. Tertiary level piano teching
2. Tertiary level composition teaching
3. Postgraduate supervision
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.
Conference (2 outputs)
|2013||Spiers CJ, 'Signifying Meaning - Keith Jarrett's Performance Practice and its Role in the Evaluation of the Solo Concerts', Another World of Popular Entertainments, Newcastle, Australia (2013) [E3]|
|2012||Spiers CJ, 'Keith Jarrett's Solo Music: Process, Product and Evaluation', 35th annual Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia, Canberra (2012)|
Creative Work (33 outputs)
|2014||Spiers CJ, The Art of Indifference, Sydney (2014)|
|2011||Spiers CJ, Garden of Souls, Christchurch Cathedral, Newcastle, Sydney (2011)|
|2009||Spiers CJ, A Slender Strand of Memories: For Orchestra, 4 Vocal Soloists and SATB Choir, Australian Music Centre, Grosvenor Place, NSW (2009) [J2]|
|2007||Spiers CJ, Memory: For Soprano and Orchestra, Australian Music Centre, Grosvenor Place, NSW (2007) [J2]|
In comparison with abstract instrumental music, musical works with text offer composers additional avenues for creating layers of meaning. Memory is one such piece that embodies a research component through its exploration of the relationship between textual and musical discourses. This relationship is at once literal (the text invoking a specific musical mood) and ironic (the music revealing hidden subtexts that are sometimes at odds with the surface imagery), a process that creates multiple viewpoints. While the theme of Rachael Jessups poem concerns her grandfathers and his familys memories, it also deals subtly with the loss of memory and the relationship that the living have with the dead through the act of remembrance. Memory builds upon this multi-layered experience through the interaction between original and quoted musical material (all of it distorted in some way). This proceeds in a kaleidoscopic manner, a process that adds further depths of association, since the non-original inserts are sufficiently well known to create a shock of recognition that is intended to represent the process of remembering. The use of quotation also conflates various temporal periods, enriching the aesthetic experience of the work through the creation of multiple narrative streams that heighten the level of psychological engagement. Memory therefore operates simultaneously as both a dramatic and reflective scena, whose textual associations, supported by the mechanism of its complex interconnection of musical references, express simultaneously the tension between the immediacy of the poems powerful emotional imagery and its overwhelming elegiac mood.
|2006||Spiers CJ, Arc of Infinity, Australian Music Centre, Sydney (2006) [J2]|
|2005||Spiers CJ, 6 Serious Pieces (for solo piano), Australian Music Centre, Sydney (2005) [J2]|
|2003||Spiers CJ, The Last Thoughts of Prokofiev, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney (2003) [J2]|
The research embodied in this work encompasses the interaction of the multiple concepts of narrative, quotation, representation, recontextualisation, hybridisation, parody, and irony, which firmly places it within the postmodern tradition. This heterogeneous mix creates a rich multilayered structure operating within the specific classical formal structure of the fantasy and fugue, and the broad genre of the piano solo itself a rich resource of associations and expectations for the informed listener that are used ultimately to blur the connection between abstract musical and programmatic meaning, and subvert temporal perception. Thus, while the musical surface follows a seemingly straightforward dialectical course, the above-mentioned qualities act anarchically to create multiple fragmented perspectives. The works narrative elements involve a programmatic aspect (a depiction of the dying thoughts of Prokofiev) represented by transformed quotations from his unfinished tenth piano sonata, and a reinvented aspect (a reimagining of these thoughts) creating, through their placement alongside new material, a hybrid style. A hidden parallel narrative relies upon a representative element embodied in a simple cipher of pitch and alphabet equivalence that spells out musically the composers name, as well as facts drawn from his life. Because of this, the piece has a mythic quality, as these facts are recontextualised through the prism of the present composers style and musical techniques. The sense of irony this creates, while in keeping with Prokofievs life, is also an integral part of the work itself, which involves the seeming completion of an unfinished work that is actually a non completion.
|2003||Kats-Chernin E, Sculthorpe P, Davidson R, Sabin N, Cronin S, Brophy G, et al., Still Life - Australian Music for Viola, Tall Poppies, Sydney (2003) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Smith GM, Allan C, Concert September 16th Colin Spiers (Piano) Greg Smith (Piano) Christopher Allan (Baritone), Ellicott - Variations on a Bach Chorale (Spiers/Smith), Woods - Satin Sounds (Spiers/Allan), Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Woodcock R, Concert August 1st 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Ronald Woodcock (Violin), Brahms - Sonata in A Op.100, Lutoslawski - Subito, Strauss - Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, Monti - Czardas, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Concert May 19th 2002 Colin Spiers (piano) The Tango Book - Spiers/Parker/Pring/Woods/Thornton, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Peck D, Concert March 14th 2002 Colin Spiers (piano)Donald Peck(Flute) Handel-Sonata in F, Beethoven-Romance in F Op.50, Dvorak - Romance Op.11, Poulenc - Sonata, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Wedding Mobile, Australian Music Centre, Sydney, Australia (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Ensemble S, Concert June 1st 2002 Colin Spiers(conductor) Spitfire Ensemble, Spiers - Fanfare for Brass and Percussion, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Walsh LS, Concert September 12th 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Linda Walsh (Oboe), Dorati - Duo Concertante, Holland - Last Light, Spiers/Parker/Pring/Woods/Thornton - The Tango Book, Poulenc - Sonata for Oboe and Piano, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Kellaway JK, Smith MR, Concert August 21st 2002 Colin Spiers (piano), Posselt - Spectra, Cuming - Mood Walk (with J. Kellaway - trumpet), Woods - Clarinet Sonata(with M. Smith - Clarinet), Parker - 6 Miniatures, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Those Freeway Blues, Australian Music Centre, Sydney, Australia (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Banney DA, Concert June 6th 2002 Colin Spiers (composer) David Banney (Conductor) University Symphony Orchestra Spiers - Anna for orchestra, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Walsh LS, Concert September 22nd 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Linda Walsh (Oboe), Dorati - Duo Concertante, Holland - Last Light, Spiers/Parker/Pring/Woods/Thornton - The Tango Book, Poulenc - Sonata for Oboe and Piano, ABC, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert October 3rd Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (conductor) Newcastle Chamber Choir, Spiers - Those Freeway Blues, Brisbane Choral festival, Brisbane (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Dreamsong, Australian Music Centre, Sydney, Australia (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert August 20th 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (Conductor) Newcastle Conservatorium Chamber Choir Spiers - Dreamsong, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert October 2nd 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (Conductor) Newcastle Conservatorium Chamber Choir Spiers - Dreamsong, Brisbane Choral Festival, Brisbane (2002) [J2]|
|2002||Spiers CJ, Smith MR, Concert August 15th Colin Spiers (Piano) Margery Smith (Clarinet), Woods - Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]|
|2000||Spiers CJ, New Song, University, Wollongong (2000) [J2]|
|2000||Spiers CJ, Sonata in a minor by Schubert Sonata in A by Faure, University, Conservatorium (2000) [J2]|
|2000||Spiers CJ, Music by Ives, Mendelssohn and Ginastera, University, Conservatorium (2000) [J2]|
|2000||Spiers CJ, Sonatas by Beethoven and Prokofiev, University, Conservatorium (2000) [J2]|
|1999||Spiers CJ, Traverse for Orchestra, University of Newcastle (1999) [J1]|
|1999||Spiers CJ, Sonata for Cello and Piano, University of Newcastle (1999) [J1]|
|1998||Spiers CJ, Piano Sonata No. 5 (Distant Echoes), Australian Music Centre, Sydney, Australia (1998) [J2]|
|1998||Spiers CJ, "Textures of Time and the Land", Brush Turkey Studio, Australia (1998) [J2]|
|1998||Spiers CJ, "Textures of Time and the Land", Australian Music Centre, Sydney (1998) [J2]|
|Show 30 more|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
1998 (1 grants)
The Development of an Approach to Composition Pedagogy Using Techniques Developed in the Writing of Major Orchestral Work. (INCENTIVE GRANT)$2,000
Funding Body: University of Newcastle
|Mr Colin Spiers|
|Special Project Grant||Chief Investigator|
|Total Amount||Funding Start||Funding Finish|
|Number of current supervisions||5|
|Total current UoN PhD EFTSL||0.85|
For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.
|Program||Supervisor Type||Research Title|
|2013||2015||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Towards Maximal Convergence: The Relationship Between Composition, Performance and Production in Realtime Software Environments|
|2012||2015||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||The Polysynchronous Film Score: the Relationship Between Music and Image/Narrative in Contemporary Scores for Silent Film|
|2011||2018||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Off-White: A Latterday Travesty|
|2008||2016||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Symmetry and Symmetry Breaking in Musical Composition|
|2008||2018||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Pragmatics of Intertextuality in Recorded Music|
|Year||Program||Supervisor Type||Research Title|
|2009||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Principal Supervisor||Developing Twenty-First Century Art Music Repertoire|
|2007||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Sole Supervisor||Developing a Composition Portfolio|
|2007||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Sole Supervisor||Songs of Nature and Spirit: The Development of an Individual Approach to Choral Music Composition, With Reference to the Works of Four Important Australian Composers|
|2004||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Sole Supervisor||Discovering a Personal Compositional Process|
Mr Colin Spiers
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 8925|
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle, Australia
The Conservatorium of Music,
Cnr Laman and Auckland Street
Newcastle NSW 2300