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Astra 60

This CD captures a concert of Australian piano music given in celebration of Astra's support of Australian music and artists. For 60 years the Astra Chamber Music Society has presented new Australian music and Australian performers within a context of international new music developments, always informed by cultural perspectives.

The program notes for the CD are written by John McCaughey, Astra's visionary and inspiring Artistic Director, and describe the connections and influences in this program of piano music especially selected to reflect Astra’s unusual ethos and presentation.

The selection of pieces represent each of the decades since the 1950s with an array of six piano works - including a guard of welcome in this century to Lawrence Whiffin's Piano Sonata No.3 in its first performance, composed for Michael Kieran Harvey in 2010, the composer's eightieth year. The seven composers of the program are linked in a web of musical and personal ties, through their multiple contributions to Astra concerts, their relations to the performer, and their connections with Lawrence Whiffin and with the former Music Department at La Trobe University, where he spent a substantial part of his life as teacher.

At the same time, the works show a spectrum of changing times in the wider musical world. The sonata with its discursive tradition is heard in three different guises, as a frame around other approaches to sound and form in the other three pieces -the piano as vehicle for individual or aphoristic utterances, or for more continuous, monolithic energies.


Michael Kieran Harvey

Australian pianist and composer, Dr Michael Kieran Harvey FAHA, is one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary piano music of his generation. A champion of Australian music and himself a composer, he regularly commissions new Australian music and has performed with Australia's leading contemporary music ensembles and orchestras.

Press quote

“Melbourne’s Astra Chamber Music Society has for many years provided a cultural enclave for musical modernism, and this recording of Australian piano works is no different. All the compositions on this CD can be described as non-tonal or post-tonal, though some have fleeting moments of traditional Western harmony or even passages of free-tonal writing. Michael Kieran Harvey performs these pieces with his flawless competence and genuine love for Australian composition. The warmth and expressive range of Harvey’s playing make this a very engaging recording, even for listeners who would normally conceive of this type of music as too abstract… This CD covers six decades of Australian piano music and celebrates the significant contribution both Michael Kieran Harvey and the Astra Chamber Music Society have made. As Michael pointed out in his recent Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, Australian music deserves to be performed, recorded and broadcast much more often, and this Move release is a decisive step in the right direction.”

— Thomas Reiner, Music Forum Magazine

Audio previews

Track Listing

    Sonata No. 1 (1959) Keith Humble

  1. At a fair speed
  2. Scherzando - Adagio Molto
  3. Three Pieces Helen Gifford

  4. Cantillation Fluente
  5. The Spell Con enfasi delicato
  6. Waltz Capriccioso
  7. In Memoriam Carl Ruggles Aardvarks II Mr Natural encounters Flakey Front! (1971) Warren Burt
  8. Krebs (1983) Mark Pollard

  9. I
  10. II
  11. III
  12. Two Miniatures Marguerite Boland

  13. Light and detached
  14. Espressivo
  15. Piano Sonata Tom Henry

  16. Theme
  17. Variations
  18. Moto perpetuo
  19. Piano Sonata No. 3 Lawrence Whiffin

  20. I
  21. II



Keith Humble

In 1977, Keith Humble won the National Critics Award as the most outstanding recitalist working in Australia and he was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to music in 1982. He was a constant champion of Australian contemporary music and Percy Grainger.

Helen Gifford

Like Sculthorpe and Grainger before her, Australian composer Helen Gifford has found inspiration in the gamelan and Balinese music.

Warren Burt

Warren Burt has worked in academia, education, radio and as a composer, filmmaker, video artist, writer and community-arts organizer. He has written probably far too many works for instruments, electronics, voice, video, theater, prose, poetry, et cetera. His works have been performed and shown in the USA, Australia, Europe and Japan.

Mark Pollard

Australian composer Mark Clement Pollard has an eclectic compositional style utilising such diverse materials as, improvisation, jazz, pop and the indigenous music’s of South East Asia.

Tom Henry

Tom Henry is an Australian composer who has written works for solo piano, organ, voice, choir, chamber ensemble and orchestra. His works have been performed in Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.

Lawrence Whiffin

Lawrence Whiffin was born in Melbourne in 1930, and passed away in November 2012. He spent much of his life abroad. In 1976 Whiffin was appointed Senior Tutor at the Music Department of La Trobe University. This position entailed the teaching of harmony, counterpoint, analysis, form and fugue, and gave him the chance to compose more concert music.

Where to buy

Astra 60 is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Apple Music.

Astra 60 is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Release date
June 2012
© 2012 Move Records
℗ 2012 Move Records
Catalogue number
MD 3357
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574335729