Dr David Kerry Chisholm

PhD University of Melbourne, BMus Hons. Monash University, BCA University of Wollongong


David is internationally recognized as a composer defined by diverse and hybrid collaboration and a curator and producer of vision and courage. He began his practice in 2000 after a 10-year post-study hiatus. He is the composer of roughly 50 original compositions including ten long-form works, ranging orchestral, chamber, choral electronics, film, theatre, dance and installation, and web projects. David has won six Green Room Awards, a French Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award, a Highly Commended Paul Lowin Prize, a Mention at 36th Bourges International competition of electroacoustic music and electronic art, a Special mention in the X Media Forum, 31st International Film Festival, Moscow, the Medibank Private State and National Arts Awards and The Channel Ten National Young Achiever of the Year. David’s work has appeared at Venice Biennale, Villa Medici Roma, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Edinburgh Festivals, Moscow Museum of Art, ISCM World New Music Days, MONA FOMA, Danscenen Copenhagen, Monaco Dance Forum, Australian Centre for Photography and he has been performed and recorded by Ensemble Vortex, International Contemporary Ensemble, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Argonaut Ensemble, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Adelaide, Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, Golden Fur, Aria Co, Latitude 37 with Ashley Smith, Silo String Quartet, Atticus String Quartet, The Australian Ballet/Sonic Art Ensemble, and virtuosic soloists including Tristram Williams, Jessica Aszodi, Phoebe Green, Mauricio Carrasco,  Eric Lamb and Jesús Solís Morales.


David was Chair of Melbourne Fringe from 2003 to 2005, and acting Chair of Strange Fruit in early 2011. He has fulfilled a variety of curatorial and policy development roles for bodies such as the Music Council of Australia, Arts Victoria, City of Melbourne, Next Wave Festival, Melbourne Festival, Chamber Music Australia, Brisbane Festival and The Australian Opera. He is a graduate of the Cranlana Program Colloquia and from 2003 to 2006 he taught genre theory at Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts. He has presented seminars on his music in Melbourne, Marseilles, Belfast and Maccagno, Italy. With BalletLab David was part of the inaugural company in residence programme at EMPAC, New York and he is the first and only Australian composer to have been accepted in the Camargo Foundation residency progamme, Cassis, and the only composer twice in residence at Centre Intermondes, La Rochelle. His collaboration with Russian poet Anzhelina Polonskaya, KURSK: An Oratorio Requiem was hailed as the triumph of the 2011 Melbourne Festival and in 2012 he was the recipient of an Australia Council Project Fellowship. David was the composer on the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber receiving unanimous praise for his innovative score for three live harps and electronics, which lead to his 2014 appointment as one of their Artistic Associates. He composed and produced the polarizing work The Experiment as part of Sydney Festival 2015 and reunited with director Matt Lutton on I am a Miracle f or Malthouse Theatre in July 2015. In 2016 he composed Harp Guitar Double Concerto and a string quartet bound south which premiered at the highly acclaimed Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music of which David is the founder and artistic director. Between February and May 2017, David was an Australia Council for the Arts Composer in Residence at HIAP in Helsinki, Finland. In 2018 he was one of the inaugural recipients of the Victorian Government’s Creator Grants. David holds a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne having taught Music Composition and Cultural Studies at Monash University between 2012 and 2018.  In 2018 he was the first Australian composer to be a featured guest of the Encuentro Internacional de Compositoresin Santiago, Chile and presented at the 2018 Interstices colloquium in his new home city of Auckland, New Zealand, where in January 2019 he commenced his role as Senior Lecturer and Composition Convenor at the School of Music.

Research | Current

Current creative research:

Commission from Lizzy Welsh "New work" for Baroque Violin solo (Recording in late 2019)

Commission from Alex Raineri "Lombard" for Piano (World Premiere Brisbane October 2019)

Commission from Creative Victoria "Into Darkness" for defunensemble Helsinki. (Ongoing)

Commission from San Francisco Contemporary Music Players "From the power of ten" for bass flute, bass/contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon, piano, cello, double bass, and 4-part low-fi electronics (March 2020 premiere San Francisco)


Current written research:

Biography as autofiction and the Dorian Gray effect

Locating the composer's body 

Queer composition in a post-AIDS culture



Teaching | Current

In 2019 I will teach

MUS110 Composition 2

MUS214 Instrumentation

MUS 246 | MUS 346 Experimental Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries

MUS310 Composition 5

MUS314 Orchestration

MUS710A&B Composition Research Portfolio


Postgraduate supervision

Currently supervising Masters student Gustavo Beaklini, a Brazillian harpist looking at the role of the performer as co-composer through the lens of transcription. 


David is available for Postgraduate supervision in composition, musical aesthetics, transdisciplinary and collaborative practice, and musical hermeneutics. 


Composition Convenor from January 2019

Leading a rethinking of pedagogical models for 21st Century composition training

Areas of expertise

Music Composition

Cultural Studies

Committees/Professional groups/Services

School of Music Research Committee

School of Music External Relations Committee

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Chisholm, D. (2020). The Memory of Remembering: Exomologesis and Exagoreusis in the Experiment. In T. Brayshaw, A. Fenemore, N. Witts (Eds.) The Twenty-First Century Performance Reader (pp. 113-120). Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/49043

Contact details

Primary office location

New Zealand

Web links