MICHAEL EASTON (1954 - 2004)
Michael Easton was born in Stevenage, Herfordshire, in 1954. He received his musical training at the Royal Academy of Music. On leaving the Royal Academy he found work in the music-publishing world, first with J&W Chester and then with Novello & Company. As representative of these firms he was required to travel widely in Europe, the America and the Far East. During a trip to Australia in 1982 he was offered a position at Allans Music and decided to make Melbourne his home.
Once in Australia Easton quickly established himself as a practical composer, to responding to commissions of all kinds, as a capable arranger and as an all-round musician. of wide abilities. By 1986 he felt retired from music publishing and devoted himself entirely to work as a free-lance composer. This, however, did not prevent him from forming a notable piano-duo partnership with Len Vorster and contributing many stimulating pre-concert talks to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Music Viva series. He also became known as a provocative music critic for the Melbourne Age and Sunday Herald and frequent contributor to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990, in partnership with Len Vorster, he founded the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, a concentrated long-weekend that embraces opera, ballet, orchestral and chamber music, jazz, talks and exhibitions, and involves musicians of international status. It is now firmly established as one of the most innovative events in the Australian music calendar.
Among the many commissions that have come Eastons way is a series of childrens operas, beginning in 1986 with The Snow Queen and including The Musicians of Bremen (1990). The Emperors New Clothes (1993), and The Selfish Giant (1995). These have proved immensely popular and have been toured widely in Australia as a means of introducing young audiences to the pleasures of opera. Orchestral commissions include two symphonies and a number of concertos. He has also composed scores for numerous films and television productions, and a musical, Petrov, which was first performed in 1992 as part of the Melbourne Summer Musical Festival.