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2024 International Alfred Hill Festival
* Online *
November 2024
(9am-3pm NZ Time + Repeat 12 hours later at 9pm-3am)

Welcome to the 2024 International Alfred Hill Festival website. I am your host, festival artistic director Sherry Grant from New Zealand, bringing this festival to you from New Zealand, where Australasian composer Alfred Hill (1869-1960) spent his early years.










Alfred Hill (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was born in Melbourne, Australia to a musical family. He was the son of Charles Hill, a hatter and talented violinist, and his wife, Eliza Ann Hulbert, both born in England. In 1872 the family emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand and later in 1875 they moved to Wellington, where Alfred Hill spent most of his early life.

With his brother John, Alfred Hill travelled to Germany and studied at the Leipzig Conservatory between 1887 and 1891 under Gustav SchreckHans Sitt and Oscar Paul. Later he played second violin with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, under guest conductors including BrahmsGriegTchaikovskyBruch, and Reinecke. The Gewandhaus Orchestra provided incomparable experience and a foundation for Hill's later conducting. Several of his early works were published in Leipzig. At the end of his last term at the Leipzig conservatory, Hill was awarded the Helbig prize as a distinguished student and graduated with a diploma in July 1891. 

Returning to Wellington, Hill was active as a violin pedagogue, recitalist, chamber music performer, but principally as conductor of choirs and orchestras, including the Wellington Orchestral Society. From 1902 to 1911 Hill travelled between Australia and New Zealand on a regular basis, writing and conducting opera, in particular. His operas Tapu, or a tale of a Maori pah and A Moorish Maid, or queen of the Riffs, written during this time, were performed in both New Zealand and Australia. He eventually settled in Sydney in 1911, becoming the principal of the Austral Orchestral College, and viola player of the Austral String Quartet.


In 1913 Hill founded the Australian Opera League with Fritz Hart, as part of an attempt to create an Australian operatic tradition. The League presented Hill's Giovanni and Hart's Pierette in Sydney and Melbourne, but folded soon afterwards. Hill was also a founder of the Sydney Repertory Theatre Society, and a foundation council member (later president) of the Musical Association of New South Wales. While in New Zealand, Hill had been active in the push for a New Zealand Conservatorium of Music, and for the foundation of an institute of Maori studies at Rotarua.

In 1913 Hill was also appointed to the advisory committee for the establishment of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music (now known as the Sydney Conservatorium of Music), and became its first Professor of Theory and Composition in January 1916. In 1935 he established the Alfred Hill Academy of Music, an institution which was to concentrate on the study of harmony, counterpoint, chamber music and opera. After this enterprise failed and the Academy closed in January, 1937, Hill devoted himself fulltime to composition. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1953 and was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1960.

Alfred Hill died at the age of eighty-nine, on the 30th October, 1960. During his lifetime he had written more than five hundred compositions, including twelve symphonies, numerous concerti, a mass, seventeen string quartets and eight operas. On his death his manuscripts were donated by his widow, Mirrie Hill, to the Australian Broadcasting Commission's Federal Music Library. His papers were given to the Mitchell Library and his books and instruments to the NSW State Conservatorium. The composition award which now bears his name was also founded by Mirrie Hill in memory of her husband.


Over the three days of this festival, musicians, artists, poets and scholars will gather from around the world to give presentation, recitals, and panel discussions. The event will be online, presented as a mixture of pre-recorded videos and live panel discussions over Zoom. We aim to include a special feature film (or two) at this festival, titles to be announced. There will be several projects including "Dialogues Down Under" where New Zealand and Australian musicians collaborate in bringing new music to the other side of the strait to perform. The organiser is also seeking sponsorship for the 2024 International Alfred Hill String Quartet Competition which should have the final round take place in Sydney or Wellington in November 2024. Please explore the other projects on the 2024 International Alfred Hill Festival Homepage.

To register as a presenter or participant, or if you have books, CDs, live events/concerts to celebrate Alfred Hill, please email the  festival organiser at alfredhill2024(at)gmail(dot)com.

Please note that all times on the programme will be in New Zealand time (Wellington) -- convert to your own time zones to avoid disappointment. The finalised festival programme will be published in October 2023. The call for papers as well as call for artworks,  poetry, or any other media inspired by Alfred Hill will be open 1st April - 10 October 2023. There will be an online art exhibition and showcase of poetry at the festival. And an 2024 international haiku competition with the theme "scattered" to bring out the fact that modern musicians are a bit like "nomads" -- born in one country, trained in another and live/work yet in more different places. The "Vio-Latino" project also very well illustrates this theme of diaspora.  

If you have any question please email alfredhill2024(at)gmail(dot)com for more information.

Registration is essential for attendees. Please refer to registration page. Also join our mailing list there.

The 2024 Haiku Competition "Scattered" will be open for submission (to 2024scatteredhaiku(@)gmail(.)com) during 1st June and 31 August 2024, please check the submission guidelines.

Your generous donation or sponsorship are most welcome. For advertising at this festival please email alfredhill2024(@)gmail(.)com

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