Gillian Howell

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Gillian Howell is a creative director of music collaborations and compositions, who works with groups of people to devise and perform original music. She works in partnership and collaboration in diverse settings – from arts organisations to schools, community groups and even prisons – to create unique performance pieces, installations and experiences. Gillian studied music at the Victorian College of the Arts before undertaking specialised studies in music direction in London (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Poland (European Mozart Academy) and Italy, and has developed an highly flexible and accessible approach to performance-making that combines playful exploration and curiosity with the discipline of music, and builds on people’s inherent understanding of the structures that make music work.

Gillian leads projects and trains teachers and professional musicians in group- devising compositional processes throughout Australia. She is well-known for her work in recent years as the Creative Director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Community Outreach Program, an award-winning program of composition and collaborative projects that she initiated for the MSO in 2002, and in which she continues to work as a lead artist. She is a freelance project director for orchestras and arts organisations around Australia, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Art Orchestra, the Song Room, Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra, and the New England Conservatorium of Music.

In 2010 she was appointed Program Director of Community and Outreach at the Australian National Academy of Music, overseeing this new program strand in the Academy’s activities. She is a member of the teaching staff at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education in the Artistic and Creative Education cluster. In 2010 Gillian also spent three months as an Asialink Artist in Residence in East Timor, working with local musicians and children to develop original music, and learning about Timorese traditional music. Gillian has an emerging profile as a researcher; her current research interests include the impact of music learning on recently arrived migrant and refugee children, and the pedagogies of artists working in schools.

Gillian is the author of the Music Work music education blog:

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