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Composer In Residence

The support and development of talented Australian composers is a primary mission for The Metropolitan Orchestra. This has included a number of commissions and featured world premiere performances as part of our Met, Cushion and Chamber Concert Series.  TMO are proud to have been working closely with the supremely talented musician and composer Keyna Wilkins for a number of years. 

In 2020, TMO were proud to deliver a wonderful world-premiere work from Keyna composed in partnership with Gumaroy Newman titled Celestial Emu.  You can check out the video of that ground-breaking performance by clicking here.

Keyna was engaged to create two brand new works in 2022. Her first premiere work for the year, titled “Smoke Trails: Our Place In A Changing World”, is a deeply considered reflection on Global Warming and the tragic bushfires that swept through Eastern Australia during 2019 and 2020.  This work for Nonet with solo clarinet was performed at TMO’s second Chamber concert of the year. The second work, a Triple Flute Concerto, was presented with a full orchestra.  This work was premiered during TMO’s final Met Concert of 2022 at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta.

About Keyna Wilkins

Keyna Wilkins is a pioneering Australian/British composer-musician at home in many musical worlds. She was one of three finalists in the Australian nation-wide APRA/AMCOS Art Music Awards for Excellence by an Individual in 2018. Her works are performed internationally and published by Wirripang. Engaging, diverse and characterized by a unique hybrid of styles, her works are linked to her personal spirituality. She is an Associate Artist with the Australian Music Centre, has four tunes in the Australian Jazz Realbook and writes music for films and theatre including short film “Remote Access” which won Best Short Film at the Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival in New York 2019. Sydney Arts Guide describes her recent collaboration with leading didgeridu player Gumaroy Newman for The Metropolitan Orchestra: “In Wilkins’ and Newman’s “Celestial Emu” didgeridu concerto, to hear the unmistakable reference to First Nations song so well pitted against The Metropolitan Orchestra’s Western Art Music instruments was a touching and admirable step forward. It received an extended and hearty standing ovation and will add tremendously to our orchestral music canon.”

Originally classically trained on piano and flute and subsequently branching into jazz, flamenco and tango, Wilkins has also taken lessons with Tibetan musician Tenzin Cheogyal on intuitive conceptual improvisation, which has influenced her immensely. Stylistically broad, inspired by Debussy and Miles Davis in equal measure, her compositions embark on a journey of impressionistic dream-like sequences alongside landscape depictions, existential spiritual quests and whimsical gestures.

She is also an improvising flutist and pianist and founded the breakout space music sensation Ephemera Ensemble, which has been described by Sydney Morning Herald “Arresting, genre-blurring..music with massive breadth and high drama.”, and by Jazz and Beyond as “Full of sonic textures and infinite possibility”. In 2019 she founded Yulugi in collaboration with Gumaroy Newman. Yulugi means to play, dance or have fun in Gamilaroi, the Northern NSW First Nations language. The duo received rave reviews such as by Cultural Omnivore; “The result wasn’t just cross-cultural, but also cross-artform….an immersive, new contemporary Australian art music.”