Born in Melbourne, 1954, Vella's diverse output includes works for orchestra, large ensemble, choir, film, chamber music, burlesque cabaret, music theatre, site-specific performances, and popular music genres. Many of his works are now recognised as set repertoire such as his 'Tango', for clarinet, and the guitar solos 'Between Earth and Air' and 'Mirrors of Fire'. His film
credits include 'Light Years', 'Parklands', 'Renzo Piano: piece by piece' (for which he won the 1999 Australian Screen Composer's Award for best music for a documentary) and 'Mr. Strehlow's Films'. His feature film music score 'Travelling Light' (2003) received the nomination 'Best Music for a feature Film' by the Australian Film Institute.
Recent works have been 'The A to Z of Spiritual Music: a user's guide', commissioned by The Seymour Group (2006) http://www.abc.net.au/classic/spiritual his co-production of the Warners international release of the Ten Tenor's album 'Larger than Life' (2003) and a revised version of his music theatre work 'Tales of Love' (2002). Vella was founding artistic director of Calculated Risks Opera Productions. Calculated Risks has premiered three of his major works, 'Tales of Love' (1991/2002), 'The Last Supper' (1993) and 'Bodysongs: the Fatman Tour' (1998). These works have toured nationally and internationally in various formats.
Publications discussing his performance work are 'Arias: Recent Australian Music Theatre' (Redhouse Editions, 1997) and 'The Oxford Dictionary of Australian Music' (Bebbington Warren (Ed), Oxford University Press, 1998). He has been invited to be Visiting and Consulting Professor of Music to many institutions in the areas of research and undergraduate curriculum development. Between 1992 and 1996 Vella devised and implemented an interdisciplinary postgraduate and undergraduate music program within the School of Mathematics, Physics, Computing and Electronics at Macquarie University. From 1989 to 2001, Richard was director and commissioning editor for music with Currency Press, Sydney. In this capacity he solicited and oversaw many books and publications on print music,recordings, manuals, and scholarly works. His own book 'Musical Environments: A Manual for Listening, Composing', originally published by Currency Press, has become a recognised text for secondary and tertiary music courses throughout Australia. In 2003, a new edition of this book entiltled 'Sounds in Space Sounds in Time' was published by Boosey and Hawkes, UK.
He is currently Chair and Professor of Music and Head of School, Drama, Fine Art and Music at the University of Newcastle. Richard Vella is Chair of the National Council of Tertiary Music Schools (NACTMUS) and sits on many advisory groups concerned with tertiary education in the creative and performing arts.
- Master of Arts (Music), La Trobe University, 18/08/1982
- Music composition
- Performing arts
- film music
- hermeneutics and creative practice
- music theatre
- Drama, Theatre and Performance studies
- Music Composition
- Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Fields of Research
|190499||Performing Arts And Creative Writing Not Elsewhere Classified||100|
Body relevant to professional practice.
- National Council for Tertiary Music Schools (NACTMUS)
Richard Vella's research interests are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. His main research focus is on modelling, metaphor, hermeneutics and creative thinking across diverse knowledge domains. In particular he is interested in the role of creative practice in the construction of models.
Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.
Book (1 outputs)
|2003||Vella R, Sounds in Space, Sounds in Time, Boosey and Hawkes, London, UK, 240 (2003) [A4]|
Chapter (2 outputs)
|2012||Vella RJ, 'Thoughts on the training of a music student at university level', Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music, Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 357-368 (2012) [B2]|
|2003||Vella R, 'Tertiary Music Education since 1988', , Currency Press, Sydney, NSW Australia (2003) [B2]|
Conference (1 outputs)
|2004||Vella R, 'Artistic Practice as Research, key note address' (2004) [E2]|
Creative Work (9 outputs)
|2008||De Aragon C, Moore I, Vella RJ, Scott-Mitchell A, Scott N, Back to the City, backtothecity.com.au, Newcastle, NSW (2008) [J2]|
|2007||Vella RJ, Renzo Piano Suite' in Video Circus, -, Brisbane, Australia (2007) [J1]|
Renzo Piano: Piece by Piece, a composition for chamber ensemble and video, celebrates the Italian architect Renzo Piano. It is the composers re-edit of five musical cues from the original documentary. Documentary films in Australia are predominantly made for television broadcast. This typically results in the music being relegated to the margins, having little individuality in the film/music dialogue. In mainstream Australian film, music is rarely considered autonomous. Sometimes this occurs in experimental films or in films that respect the dramaturgical role of the music. Studies of the role of music in documentaries remain scarce. Wahlberg (2008) has little to say about music, adopting a contemporary phenomenological approach to image and time in documentary film. The composers edit of the original film investigates non mainstream approaches to film music exploring a sensory relation between music and image. It liberates music from its mainstream conventional role, allowing it to function as a primary perceptual element and narrative vehicle. Non-synchronous relationships to image, enable the music to explore analogy evoking the architects sense of light, space and density. The viewer experiences a quasi-synesthesic relationship with the image, editing and music. This provides insights into the phenomenology of imagination, by exploring the further possibilities of sound/image and spatial relationships, in film and video-making outside the mainstream. Some of the original music is freely available on the web via various downloads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7IxSd2NsRM). The commissioning group Topology won the AMC award for Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation, 2008. This included Renzo Piano: Piece by Piece.
|2006||Vella RJ, The A to Z of Spiritual Music: a user's guide, Unknown, Sydney, Australia (2006) [J1]|
The A to Z of Spiritual music: a users guide is an online collection of composition combining texts with live and sampled recordings. Discussions on the spiritual in music are linked to specific religious and denominational uses of music, or evocations of a deity (Beck 2006). The A to Z investigates representations of the spiritual through words and music. It does not deify music but catalogues devices and various states associated with meaningfulness and transcendence. It does not refer to values which are more aligned to morality or institutional approaches to spirituality. It treats the spiritual as ones engagement with life. The output uses the list format similar to a dictionary. The random-access nature of internet-based hypertext foregrounds and amplifies post-modern tensions between form and content. It demonstrates novel approaches to narrative, performance delivery and large form, by capitalising on the interactive nature of an online environment. Much discussion is devoted to the narrative and formal possibilities opened up by new media technologies (Bassett, 2008; Ryan, 2003). As a demonstration of possibilities in an internet-based delivery of a music-centered work, The A to Z explores phenomenological and semiological relationships between words and music. The A to Z due to its expansive dictionary form, orients itself more towards exegetical analysis via hermeneutics, than traditional harmonic/melodic/formal analytical approaches. The work aligns with those who advocate the use of post-modern hermeneutic and cross-disciplinary approaches to analysis in music (Kramer, 1992, 2004; Cook, 2006). It was featured in the ABCs magazine Limelite December, 2006
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Other (2 outputs)
|2007||Vella R, Drummond J, 'ACID Press: a New Approach to Knowledge Collaboration', : Resonate Magazine (2007) [O1]|
|2005||Vella R, 'Keeping the Degree Creative', ( pp.2-2). Sydney, NSW Australia: Realtime Arts: http://www.realtimearts.net/article/68/7916 (2005) [O1]|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
For project grants received where the lead institution is other than the University of Newcastle, details are shown in italics.
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
2014 (1 grants)
ERF Teaching Relief - English$25,000
Funding Body: University of Newcastle
|Number of current supervisions||15|
|Total current UoN Masters EFTSL||0.8|
|Total current UoN PhD EFTSL||3.6|
For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, details are shown in italics, and the institution name is listed below the program name.
|Program||Supervisor Type||Research Title|
|2013||2017||PhD (Fine Art)||Principal Supervisor||ORI* on Aesthetics and Language of Folding and Technology|
|2013||2017||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||The Song and the Words - Music of Exile|
|2013||2015||PhD (Music)||Principal 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|
|2012||2017||PhD (Education)||Co-Supervisor||Keep the Flame Burning: Exploring the Barriers that inhibit the effective teaching of the Arts in Primary Schools|
|2011||2015||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||The Traditional Music of East Timor|
|2011||2017||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Off-White: A Latterday Travesty|
|2010||2018||PhD (Music)||Principal Supervisor||Cinematic Topologies: Mapping Shifts in Nature, Thought and Mind|
|2009||2013||M Philosophy (Music)||Principal Supervisor||Towards a Phenomenology of Groove|
|2009||2011||M Philosophy (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Using Acoustic Phenomena to Generate a Compositional Practice: Representing Acoustic Phenomena in Musical Composition through the Extrapolative and Interpolative Modelling of the Phenomena's Characteristics and Behaviour|
|2008||2016||PhD (Music)||Principal Supervisor||Symmetry and Symmetry Breaking in Musical Composition|
|2008||2018||PhD (Music)||Principal Supervisor||Pragmatics of Intertextuality in Recorded Music|
|2007||2008||M Philosophy (Music)||Principal Supervisor||Recreating the evolution of guitar sounds in Spain and Latin America c 1890-1940|
|2007||2011||PhD (Music)||Sole Supervisor||Joseph Schillinger and His System for Aesthetical Engineering: Applications in Music Composition and Analysis|
|2007||2013||PhD (Music)||Co-Supervisor||Music in Context: An Exploration of Music and Dramaturgy|
|Year||Program||Supervisor Type||Research Title|
|2013||M Arts (Music) [R]||Co-Supervisor||A Study Examining the ICT Literacy Levels of Music Educators in the New South Wales Department of Education and Training|
|2009||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Co-Supervisor||Developing Twenty-First Century Art Music Repertoire|
|2008||M Creative Arts (Music) [R]||Co-Supervisor||The Maturing Trumpeter: An Insight to the Physicality, Mentality and Practicality of the Twenty First Century Performing Trumpeter|
Professor Richard Vella
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 8902|
|Fax||(02) 4921 8958|
|Position||Head of School|
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Cnr Laman and Auckland Street
Newcastle NSW 2300