This is the artist website for Australian/British composer David Holyoake. Here you will find an introduction to his concert music, as well as genre music for theatre, film and contemporary dance.



Currently accepting work and commissions.

Email: david.holyoake@gmail.com

Some scores and parts available for sale or hire from the Australian Music Centre:


Photos by: Isabelle Françaix ©




David is a composer originally from Melbourne Australia, and now dividing his time between Brussels and London. He is represented as an Associate Artist with the Australian Music Centre and some of his scores are published by Reed Music. David is passionate about art music as deep language, and as a source of spiritual connection or social or personal transformation. His music searches for and makes use of contemporary and new techniques to widen his musical vocabulary, yet he often reacts against the ongoing fashion for atonality and excessive dissonance within contemporary classical music.

David is also one of the few contemporary classical composers interested in contemporary music as activism. For him, the multiple environmental crises, and the urgent need to find alternatives to the dehumanizing dilemma of endless economic growth should present artists with a social mission and call to arms. In the mainstream, cotemporary classical music continues to be perceived as elitist at best and irrelevant at worst. Historically, the avant garde have often been at the vanguard of big shifts in society and morality. We urgently need to revive art-ivism in coordinated ways. Voluminous psychological literature demonstrates that humans make most decisions NOT on the basis of rational or intellectual thought but according to emotional and unconscious drivers. Music has the ability to engage directly with this black ocean. Existential issues like climate change demand an emotive cultural response as well as a search for a new aesthetics.

David’s latest commissions have combined multimedia or electronics. Extinct Birds, commissioned by Ensemble Matisse in 2013, was a half hour chamber work including live and digitally enhanced recordings of extinct and endangered song birds. David’s music has appeared on Move Records label and some is available on spotify and i-tunes.


David holds degrees in Creative Arts and Law from the University of Melbourne, as well as qualifications from the Australian Music Examinations Board. In 2006 David won second prize for piano composition at the Keys Australian Music Competition, as well as the encouragement award for advanced composition. He has been awarded public arts grants on several occasions in Australia and from the Arts Council of England. David is a member of the Melbourne Composers league and has had works performed at several of their concerts. He has been fortunate to collaborate with several outstanding musicians including sound curators from the National Gallery of Victoria, Silo String Quartet, Ensemble Matisse, members of ensemble Musiques Nouvelles (Belgium.) He has also worked with artists from other disciplines including contemporary dance. In 2012 he received a commission from London based dance-theatre company Nyctolopic to compose and record and original soundtrack for ‘the City Will Crumble’ supported by the Arts Council of England and the Norwegian Embassy. This was a new physical theatre work inspired by the philosophy and aesthetic of film noir. He has also worked with Gerard Van Dyke, choreographer of Kage Physical Theatre.


Key influences and admiration include the sound worlds of Kaija Saariaho, George Crumb, Toru Takemitsu, Arvo Part for lofty power and wisdom, Rachmaninoff for irrepressible dark. Gypsy Flamenco for ‘duende’ and the ability to summon the scream of dead generations, music from Sufi and Indian traditions.

In the future, I’m interested in finding ways in the future to revive music as instructive ritual. While I work quite a bit in the ‘art music’ genre, I remain anti elitist and anti-intellectualism in art, the irrational is the great well spring of creativity, and is usually the quickest and deepest route to touching or changing people. Regarding the irrational and the ability of music to summon all of its manifestations, I would still rate Frederico Garcia Lorca’s ‘theory and play of the duende’ essay as an amazing and non-exhaustible source of inspirations.


David´s webpage at the Australian Music Centre

Black Tangos Project - Belgium, 2015
Odysseus: The Message of the Hurricanes - 05/31/2015
"Now Hear This" - 11/2013 to 03/2014
Extinct birds, the forge camden - 2013/2014
The city will crumble, rich mix - 02/23/2013

Black Tangos Project:



David's latest project for amplified string quartet and visual projects takes tango as departure point, written for Akhtamar String Quartet.

The Message of the Hurricanes


31 May 2015

Premiere at Origami Festival, Beursschouwburg.

David’s latest commission comes from newly formed ensemble Metafora, comprising three outstanding soloists from Belgium and Luxembourg. The music and lyrics by David Holyoake will update an episode from the Odyssey (the magic bag of winds) to illustrate a stark warning about unleashing climate change in the name of short term financial profit. The work is designed for live performance with soprano, flute and harp against a background of filmic projections.

Cette œuvre a été écrite avec l’aide de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Administration générale de la Culture, Service de la Musique.

The composition of this work was supported by the Belgian Ministry of Culture, Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles.


Réservations online/Online reservations : Clique ici/Click here

Réservations par télephone/Reservations by phone: 0473 68 32 38

National Gallery of Victoria:
"Now Hear This"

November 2013 to March 2014

As part of Melbourne Now exhibition, sound curators from the NGV invited a number of contemporary composers from Melbourne to partake in the gallery’s first ever sound only exhibition:’ Now Hear This’. Selected music was played in electronic listening stations in the gallery. The exhibition featured David’s recent work ‘Sambhala’ for two cellos, which responded to big ideas about the need for a more meaningful human progress narrative and the lack of collective faith in the possibility of alternatives to the current economic paradigm. ‘Sambhala’ is the original sandskrit spelling of Shambala, meaning a place perfect spiritual harmony in Hindu and Tibetan traditions.



David Holyoake

mini tour 2013 to 2014

Extinct Birds is a new commission from ENSEMBLE MATISSE and composed by David Holyoake. Featuring sound recordings of extinct or endangered song birds, this new chamber work and performance project carries a strong environmental message. The sound recordings of song birds will form a digital soundscape and live digital sound that will interact with the acoustic music. By juxtaposing the human musical language against the musical language of species whose disappearance we have directly caused, Extinct Birds reinforces awareness that humans are simply another species, and that in the absence of deep cultural and economic change, human extinction (or the death of much that is human') is a distinct possibility. The preview will be on the 29th October, but Extinct Birds will then be taken on tour in the UK and hopefully beyond. In addition to 'Extinct Birds', Ensemble Matisse will also be playing a selection of 20th century repertoire.


Press coverage/articles:


Article by David on contemporary music as activism:



David Holyoake

23th February 2013

"The City will Crumble" is a vision of the psychological and social dislocation of the mega-city in 2013. This contemporary physical theatre work, set to original music, reincarnates a previous aesthetic reaction to a great socio-economic shock; film noir as a reflection of the Great Depression and its aftermath. We live in times with strong parallels to that earlier era – most obviously a devastating economic crash. Also, then and now breathtaking technological changes offer great opportunities but at the same time wears down honest human relations. Then an now, seeming prosperity masks continuing power relations and the sharpening vulnerability of those at the bottom. Then and now, faith in progress gives way to powerlessness and isolation in the face of a social system whose efficiency depends on making each individual replaceable, insignificant and therefore disposable.

The show adapts in original movement and music the aesthetic, psychological and narrative elements of film noir – sometimes described as "the aesthetics of anxiety" to tell the story of our own dark city in 2013. The storyline and the symbols it contains are inspired by some of the conventions of noir, and the philosophy inherent to it. The slipping, vanishing and corruption of one´s self against social forces – embodied by the city itself – is what film noir expressed and what Nyctolopic aims to express in this new piece.



"a harrowing and interesting soundtrack by David Holyoake..."

"The city will crumble can open your senses if you want something different, thoughtful, and musically arresting"


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