Thread Through Porous Ears

chamber orchestra

Premiered 12/10/2018

2018 Sydney Symphony Orchestral Fellows

Orchestrations of hydroacoustic phenomena;

sharks listening with their bodies.

The Tent

(in development)

chamber opera

Previewed 28/08/2018 by Sydney Chamber Opera

A chamber opera framing Seamus Heaney's early pastoral writings in a Margaret Atwood short story of the same name. Transmutations of the expression of vocality unfold in an uncanny soundworld, the howling wilderness.


two players on piano


3 Breath Studies for Solo Trumpet

(in development)

C trumpet

co-composed with Alexandria Smith

Developed in July 2018 at the Darmstadt

New Music Festival

Laceration II

wind quintet & electronics

Premiered 17/08/2018

Ensemble Apex

Laceration II is part of an ongoing series of works preoccupied with 

the dissolution of intuitive structure. Tension between acoustic and 

digital output is mediated by the performance of semi-improvised 



(in development)

alto flute & electronics

Workshopped 23/05/2018

Claire Chase


Laceration I: Lung & Bone

string quartet

Workshopped 22/12/2017

Mivos quartet


amplified ensemble

Premiered 17/06/17

SPIRAL ensemble

 The ensemble speaks most clearly on the verge of its undoing.


chamber orchestra

Premiered 29/03/2018

Ensemble MUSE

I c  rry     h    th  f e  ng of      ny.  d   ’t k     d st  y     d be f lt       rec n ntly.


  I th nk  ’m  t    in    e  i   my    e  .

“ f h  b  ke   up          e’d  e q       catch” m m      s

                                   po nt o                      me, t            h      t  t   fe l ha

  I’ I   I Im w     im,  e    e ee

 o t a k    of sil y cy  y   y yyss  s s s s s               I lik .

                    s ile,           h                                           nds.


I I I I I I I think tha  that

  ort of   t ns ”

“I h      re  esp      r y      n              lss s s sss ss             I        w."


    ey s sss s  re    th  in cerr  s t t t        hin s                     I    no  .

                                                                                           I I I I th   m  t a   p  hps


     h rt  r   t  ow  n                I h  ed     pr   d       t ’t.

     he re  c    o                t  t I h    d       r                t t tt t

                                       t uth        impo  a               t th   gs


I  ov th shp    yr h   nd ss s ssss h  wa thw y your voice ctch  ss  tsel  fa d

gnrl dsco        rt y u emb    s well I ca ’t think f  n   sy   y t    ytss  but I did   d

I ’s    e  nd I I II   so wrot    is p   e e en oy  tt t  is f   y u”


  I I   hi   I t at   at p rh    ssss

  I th nk  ’   t             I    y      d.


trumpet, piano & percussion


Premiered 20/06/2018

Trumpet: Sam Thompson
Piano: Darci Gayford
Percussion: Nancy Zheng

Expressions of the character of a music box, long abandoned,

singing madness and unhinging the sound of itself

as its voice strays increasingly further

from the confines of intention.

It is a strange and unnerving process, re-articulating

the impeded lunacy of half-spoken murmurs

in a failing inanimate.


string orchestra

Premiered 02/07/2017

Ensemble Noveau

Conducted by John Keene

One is physically awake and aware of their palpable surroundings, however

the mind has yet to dissociate from sleep, keeping one paralysed and projecting metaphysical dreamscapes into a tangible world.

In inhabiting transition, confronting the volatile and the uncomfortable,

one occupies a state between states.

In Part

winds, percussion & film

Premiered 23/06/2017

Celtic flute (D): Andrew Collins

Clarinet: Claudia Jelic

Percussion 1: Niki Johnson

Percussion 2: Josephine Macken

A memory reconstructed is a contortion of itself.

This work is a visual and sonic meditation on the malleability of memory and consequent unattainability of agency over one’s

perceptions of the past.

Fanfare for Counterspectacles

wind symphony

Workshopped & recorded 18/05/16
SCM Wind Symphony

Conducted by John Lynch

A fanfare primarily concerned with the construction and dispersion of textures that shape the colour of the ensemble and inform the trajectory of harmonic expansion within the work.


Canticum Novum

song cycle for tenor & ensemble

Premiered 23/10/2016

Tenor: Gabriel DeBurgh
Harp: Jo Baée
Piano: Sutthi Suton
Cello: James Morley
Double bass: Will Hansen

Electronics: Josephine Macken

This song cycle is a study of the Psalms in 7 genres, according to Longman’s analyses.
The title translates to ‘New Song’, an allusion to Psalm 96, which constitutes a divine endorsement of new music.

The macrostructure of the work is an abbreviated consideration

of David’s life.

Cloud Cantus

5.1 surround

Premiered 04/06/16

Cloud Cantus is concerned with the macro and micro movements of cloud species within the Earth's atmosphere. Samples recorded using contact microphones and pre-processed techniques are sculpted into sound masses imitative of these species.

The resultant skyscapes are dynamic and volatile in their acousmatic presentation, as the movements of these sound masses guide the trajectory of materials within the

stereophonic space.

Earth Chronicle

SATB choir, piano & violin


"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."

                         —Cormac McCarthy, The Road



realisation of Cornelius Cardew's open work

Released 25/02/16

Vocalists: Chris Bouhabib, Ender Carden, Solomon Frank, Justin Green,

Henry Hulme, Katrina Kovaks, Sandra Liu, Johannes MacDonald, 

Claudia Mackay, Josephine Macken, Claudia Rapisarda, Jeremy Richmond, 

Ella Seabrook, Hamish Spicer, Sarah Elise Thompson, Joshua Winestock and Yinnie Yip.

A realisation of Cardew’s ‘Treatise,’ comprising an ungainly bricolage of vocal samples collected in spontaneous collaboration with a number of composers, vocalists, instrumentalists and musicologists at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. This project was organised by fellow composer Claudia Rapisarda and I in order to investigate the effects of visual stimuli in eliciting an intrinsic improvisational vocabulary. The result is as we intended; a celebration of both the universality of this musical language and the expressive idiosyncrasies of individual performers.


open instrumentation

Premiered 27/10/15

Flutes: Shaun Barlow, Henry Liang and Angus McPherson 

Clarinets: Solomon Frank, Benjamin Samuels and Yinnie Yip

Fluttertalks is scored for open instrumentation. Through a structured improvisatory style, it explores the inherency of communication and mutual collaboration in the natural world.

For score inquiries, please contact me at

© 2020  Josephine Macken