Anne Cawrse is an award-winning Australian composer of acoustic solo, chamber, orchestral and vocal works.
Cawrse’s music blends soaring, lyrical melodies, dexterous rhythmic interplay and an unpredictably colourful harmonic palette. She is particularly fond of discovering the expressive musical potential hidden within the words of female writers.
Growing up in the small rural town of Freeling in South Australia, Cawrse moved to Adelaide to pursue studies in composition at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. In 2008 she completed her PhD in Composition under the supervision of Graeme Koehne and Charles Bodman Rae. Cawrse’s penchant for text setting has made her the most commissioned composer of the award-winning Adelaide Chamber Singers (five commissions since 2005) and a highly revered art song composer, with notable performances by Greta Bradman, Lorina Gore, Emma Horwood, Robert Macfarlane, Kate Macfarlane, Cheryl Pickering and Bethany Hill.
Cawrse is highly sought after as an orchestral and chamber music composer, with major commissions from the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, the Australian String Quartet, Plexus Ensemble, the Adelaide Wind Orchestra, the Benaud Trio and the Zephyr Quartet. Her first opera, Innocence, was developed with Singular Productions and the State Opera Company of South Australia with support from an Arts SA Major Commission grant. Suite from Innocence was premiered in June 2021 by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at ‘She Speaks’, a mini-festival curated by Cawrse which celebrated female composers past and present.
Most recent awards include the 2021 APRA/Australian Music Centre Art Music Award for Chamber Work of the Year for A Room of Her Own (Australian String Quartet), the South Australian Luminary Award for sustained contributions to composition and education, and a 2022 Prelude Composer Residency. Previously, Cawrse’s choral work On Earth As In Heaven (Adelaide Chamber Singers) received the South Australian State award at the 2018 Art Music Awards, and her orchestral work Musaic (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) was a finalist in the 2008 awards. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Bishop Memorial Commission, the Momentum III Covid-19 Sue W Special Commission, and the inaugural Women in Music commission.
Meaningful musical collaborations include works for Katie Noonan’s vocal quartet AVE, guitarist Alex Tsiboulski, pianists Michael Ierace, Stefan Cassemenos and Leigh Harrold, cello and guitar duo Sharon and Slava Grigoryan, and percussionist Claire Edwardes. A favourite in new music circles in Adelaide, Cawrse gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of many of the preeminent music organisations in her hometown. Alongside the aforementioned groups, she has received multiple commissions from Various People Inc., is a frequent contributor to the chamber music programs of The Firm New Music Concert series, and has been regularly performed by the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.
Cawrse is a casual lecturer at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide. She has tutored composition privately, at tertiary and senior secondary level, and as part of the ASME Young Composer’s Program (2015) and the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Composition program (2021 and 2022). Aside from teaching and composing, she enjoys an idyllic existence by the beach with her husband Andrew and son Oscar.