investing in bold new music

At the Canberra International Music Festival, you can always expect the unexpected. We are passionate about introducing new music to the world and each year we invite creative artists right into the heart of our festival.

Commissioning bold and original music is an essential part of connecting the present with the past and the future, engendering debate and discussion, making new discoveries and most importantly, bringing together the best creative minds. We believe new work is the only way of ensuring that our art form stays alive and kicking. Every new piece of music the Festival commissions, creates an important bond between our audience and festival musicians.

Each year, the Festival invites a composer to be its Composer-In-Residence. Why? To provide composers with the opportunity to interact with performers and audiences. And, equally important, for performers and audiences to interact with real, live, modern day composers.

Creating new music brings a lot of joy. It is exhilarating to see a small idea grow into something substantial and lasting. And the best thing? We get to share it with you.

The Festival is proud of its long history of investment in bold new works and our contribution to art music repertoire. We have an impressive record in commissioning diverse voices, including indigenous and female composers, both of whom are under-represented in contemporary art music. We also support and nurture the talents of the next generation of Australian artists, providing exciting opportunities for young composers to create new works.

Our 2015 Composer-in-Residence, Dutch-Australian composer Kate Moore, recently won the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Prize (2017) for her work The Dam. She is the first female composer in the history of the award to receive this honour. The Dam was commissioned by the Festival with the support of Betty Beaver, a long term festival supporter.

The Festival’s 2016 Composer-in-Residence was Gerard Brophy, one of Australia’s most internationally successful composers. Gerard is extraordinarily aligned with different trends in world music, from Latin American samba to Indian devotional music and plenty in between. His major new work Canticles was commissioned by Margaret and Peter Janssens to premiere at the Festival.

Mary Finsterer, recognised as one of Australia's most original composers and the recipient of many prestigious awards, was our Composer-in-Residence in 2018. Her work Four Interludes for Seven Harp Ensemble was commissioned by festival donors.

Find out more about our history of commissioning here.

All works commissioned to premiere at the Festival are fully funded by donors.

If you are interested in commissioning a new piece of music, please contact Roland Peelman, our Artistic Director, on 02 6230 5880 or email

Please note, all our staff are part-time and may not be immediately available to answer your call. Please leave a message or send an email and Roland will be more than happy to call you back.

A Major Lift!

A Major Lift is our new donor circle created to support the commissioning of Australian music to be premiered at the Canberra International Music Festival.

The donor circle offers the opportunity for individuals to join with a group of other music lovers and participate in the creation of new Australian music.

You can find out more information about how you can become A Major Lifter here.