New Music On Centre Stage


WollCon’s final 50th Birthday celebration event at the Town Hall (3rd December 2022) featured two world premieres by composers and WollCon alumni Matthew Hindson and Novak Manojlovic, to celebrate all that is Wollongong.

World-renowned composer Professor Matthew Hindson created a piece especially for WollCon’s BlueScope Youth Orchestra (BSYO) to play, to celebrate the group’s long-standing partnership (36 years) with the steel-making company. It was only fitting that Matthew composed the music since he worked as a computer programmer at the steel works before becoming a composer.

Hear his interview with ABC Radio on Monday 28th November 2022 (from 1:17:48) – discussing his composition ‘Big Steel’.

“The thing about the steelworks is that it is a monument to human achievement and endeavour.  I mean, it’s turning iron ore from the ground into steel.  We couldn’t do without it.  So, I will be trying to reflect that in the composition.  A sense of majesty, of grandeur and great power.”

Professor Matthew Hindson

Composer and Deputy Dean, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Matthew Hindson
Listen to 'Big Steel' - composed by Matthew Hindson

by BlueScope Youth Orchestra

The other major collaborative work enjoyed by the audience was a composition from celebrated jazz composer Novak Manojlovic. Born in Wollongong, Novak is a composer, pianist and improviser, who has become one of Australia’s leading jazz musicians. He began at WollCon with classical music studies and the jazz program and eventually went on to win the 2019 Freedman Jazz Fellowship. He returned to WollCon with a composition conducted by WollCon’s Eric Dunan and performed by a total of 40 musicians from the WollCon Jazz Orchestra, the BSYO and members of our premier singing group The Hummingbirds.

Novak’s composition was inspired by his own experiences growing up in Wollongong and draws from a poem entitled ‘Wollongong’ by Australian poet Henry Kendall (published in 1862). Kendall is considered the first Australian poet to draw his inspiration from the life, scenery and traditions of the country.

“I hope that with this large ensemble piece I can usher the name Wollongong further into the pantheon of Australian work. We live in a city that is not only geographically remarkable, but punches far above its weight in terms of its creative output. I am proud of this city – it’s sense of community, it’s history of immigration, and I aim to make audiences feel the same.” 

Novak Manojlovic

Composer, Pianist, Improviser

Novak’s commission was supported by a grant from Create NSW.

Listen to 'A Brightness' composed by Novak Manojlovic

by BSYO, Jazz Orchestra and Vocal Ensemble

The second half of the concert featured vibrant street music with WollCon’s The Con Artists in collaboration with band in residence the Hot Potato Band (HPB), which has been workshopping with WollCon’s community musicians all year (2022).

“We’ve been running workshops on and off since 2017 and now more regularly in schools across the nation. At WollCon, we loved interacting with people from all walks of life with their community band The Con Artists. It’s a beautiful thing when people who are doctors, nurses, teachers, corporates, and tradies come together to play music. It was also an honour to hear our original songs played by a diverse set of people and instruments.” Said Peter Orenstein – HPB Workshops Coordinator & Baritone Sax.

“We’d like to thank David Francis, David Rooney, Jenn Cook and the crew at WollCon for facilitating our visits. It’s been a real collaboration and something that has brought us a lot of joy throughout 2022. We hope it’s been beneficial for everyone, particularly after a rough 2 years for musicians.” Said Peter.