Emma Jayakumar

Emma Jayakumar is an Australian composer of opera, ballet and chamber music. Recent major commissioned works for orchestra and ensemble have included the orchestral song cycle Four Lost Songs (2022) for the Darwin Symphony Orchestra with soprano Rachelle Durkin, Our Little Inventor (2022) for West Australian Opera, the Lost Little Llama (2022) for Awesome Festival and LINK Dance, Bell Birds Suite for String Quartet (2020) for the ABC recorded by the Darlington Quartet, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (2020) for West Australian Ballet and Awesome Festival, and opera Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (2021) for MusicBook Stories and the City of Perth Winter Arts Festival.

Our Little Inventor received outstanding reviews for its innovative score, libretto and performances, including a five star review from Limelight. Emma was also nominated for a best score award at the 2021 WA Performing Arts Awards for the ballet score The Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie.

Completing a practice-led PhD in composition at WAAPA in 2018, which was subsequently awarded the 2018 WAAPA Research Medal for most outstanding research thesis, Emma is also an award-winning singer, and an alumna of the Royal Academy of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and WAAPA opera courses. She is a sought-after composer and fierce advocate of engaging and accessible works for young audiences, as well as new music celebrating diverse Australian voices.

Emma has just completed production of a re-staging of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge to warm and emotional reviews at the State Theatre Centre for State of Play and Perth Fringe, and has begun work on a new extended song scene commission for mezzo soprano Caitlin Hulcup and the Darlington Piano Quintet for their 20th Anniversary celebrations in September. In 2023 Emma hopes to begin creative development on a new cantata for chamber choir and soloists exploring the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

List of Works (Commissioning Body)

  • Circles and Centres (Darlington Piano Quintet) extended song for mezzo soprano and piano quintet, for performance in September 2023 at the Darlington Hall by mezzo soprano Caitlin Hulcup and the Darlington Piano Quintet. Circles and Centres is a poem used with permission by Sarah Holland-Batt.
  • Our Little Inventor (West Australian Opera 2022) Opera in 7 scenes Performed at His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth on 1st and 2nd October 2022. Starring Grace Chow, Rachelle Durkin (Soprano), Brett Peart (Baritone), Yann Kee (Soprano), Xiaojia Zhang (Soprano) and the West Australian Young Voices (WAYV) accompanied by the West Australian Youth Orchestra (WAYO)

  • The Lost Little Llama (Awesome Arts Festival 2022) Ballet in One Act for Wind trio, Marimba and Percussion. 10 performances from 27th September–1st October 2022 James St Amphitheatre, Perth Cultural Centre.

  • Four Songs (Darwin Symphony Orchestra 2022) Orchestral song cycle Performed soprano Rachelle Durkin and DSO at the Darwin Entertainment Centre on the 20th August 2022

  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Music Book 2021) Comic opera in one act for baritone, mezzo-soprano, boy treble, and Piano Quartet 8 performances from 13th –16th July 2021 in the Perth Winter Arts Festival

  • The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (West Australian Ballet 2020) Children’s ballet for narrator, Wind Quintet and Percussion. 5 performances from 28th September­–2nd October  2020 in the James Street Amphitheatre, Perth Cultural Centre for the Awesome Arts Festival

  • Bell Birds Suite for String Quartet (Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2020) String Quartet Recorded in ABC studios Dec, 2020 for ABC Classic FM. Performed by Madison New Music Ensemble Capitol Lakes Auditorium, Wisconsin USA, May 26th, 2022; Acacia Quartet, Four Winds Festival NSW April 16th, 2022; Darlington Quartet, Music Viva Perth Concert Hall 3rd October, 2021; Darlington Quartet, Darlington Hall 12th June, 2022                                                                                                                                
  • Fox (Chimera Ensemble 2019) Song cycle for Soprano and Piano Quartet Performance on 18th August, 2019 Dr Robert Braham Auditorium, Trinity College Perth. Performed by Emma Jayakumar (Soprano), Semra Lee (Violin), Geoffrey Bourgault (Clarinet), Melinda Forsythe (Cello) and Tommaso Pollio (Piano)

  • Beyond the Wall Suite for Piano Quintet (Chimera Ensemble 2017) Suite of themes for Piano Quintet from the opera Beyond the Wall. Performed by the Chimera ensemble in the Breaking Waves opening concert of the TURA New Music Festival, Perth Town Hall October 23rd, 2017. Live Recorded by the ABC for ABC Classic FM.

  • Two pieces for Piano Trio (Chimera Piano Trio 2018) Performed in May 2018 Concert Series, with Rebecca Glorie, Melinda Forsythe and Tommaso Pollio