Monash Art Ensemble

The Monash Art Ensemble acts to support the development of excellence in young Australian musicians, foster a culture of innovation amongst established Australian musicians and encourage community engagement with Australian musicians and music.

The Ensemble, founded by Paul Grabowsky in 2012, has successfully embraced this concept and offers a pathway for talented students to interact with and build this basis for a strong and uniquely Australian 21st century musician. The ensemble has commissioned eleven new Australian works (including three award winning works), collaborated with international artists such as the Carla Bley Trio, Mark Helias, George Lewis, Dave Douglas, Django Bates and Tomasz Stanko, secured ongoing support from the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and attracted broad recognition through the release of five acclaimed CDs.

The Ensemble is proudly supported by the Vizard Foundation, the Robert Salzer Foundation, the Monash Academy of Performing Arts and the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University. 

Upcoming Performances

Thursday April 19, 2018: Monash Art Ensemble launch their new album: Barney McAll’s Zephyrix. Bird’s Basement. Bookings essential: $39 / $29. 

Wednesday June 6, 2018: Monash Art Ensemble perform Novella with Kris Davis and Tony Malaby at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. The Jazzlab. Time TBC. 

November, 2018: Double world-premiere. The Monash Art Ensemble present two new works by Kate Neal and Paul Williamson. Venue and time TBC. 


Tuesday 6 March 2018 from 5-8pm in Ensemble Room 11
Thursday 8 March 2018 from 10-1pm in Ensemble Room 11

Requirements: Students from all specialisations are encouraged to audition, however we regret to inform you that there will be no positions for voice in the 2018 program. Each student is asked to prepare a 5-minute work from any style or genre of music. Accompaniment is not necessary. You may also be asked to perform a short improvisation of any style or genre. 

Auditions for the Monash Art Ensemble are open to all Monash University students studying within the School of Music. For more information, or to register for an audition, please contact Ensemble Manager Megan Burslem at

CD Releases


Works by Mary Finsterer, Eugene Ball, Andrew Harrison and Joe O’Connor
(2016) JazzHead Records

Histories. For each of us they represent narratives within which we find navigable timelines, chains of causation, explanations. Sometimes teleologies, sometimes songlines, they represent attempts to structure time and place, identity, and to imagine destiny. What history is not is a single truth. Andrew Harrison’s piece in this collection memorialises his grandfather’s traumatic experiences in the trenches of Flanders in 1916-18. Mary Finsterer has us gaze down from a great height. Eugene Ball intrudes into his own strange and magical sound world, and Joseph O’Connor brings worlds of notation and improvisation into a nuanced dialogue. Narrative, dialectic, panorama and testimony are all represented in this collection of Histories.’ – Professor Paul Grabowsky. 

Nyilipidgi Album Cover

with the Young Wagilak Group 
(2016) ABC Records

‘This album thrives on the unique voices of individuals brought together to play, create and imagine. As a part of the manikay tradition, it is an invitation to sit and listen to the voices of those who are beside us, who wish to share and relate their own lives in song. Nyilipidgi is an artwork of possibility, a breath of fresh air that might just sweep us somewhere we could never anticipate. We do not know to where the wind blows’. – Samuel Curkpatrick. 

Paul Grabowsky joins forces with Daniel Wilfred and David Wilfred and the Monash Art Ensemble to present Nyilipidgi. 

with Dave Douglas

Prolific trumpeter, composer, educator and two-time Grammy Award nominee Dave Douglas collaborated with the Monash Art Ensemble to realise the premiere of a new work FABLIAUX for Four Ensembles. Inspired by the timbres of the composers of the Ars Nova in 14th century France, the piece takes this frame of reference as a springboard into wholly uncharted territory. Improvisation meets composition as these sounds walk across the centuries for a new chapter in this American composer’s oeuvre, written especially for this engagement.

This performance and CD release will be part of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival and feature Dave Douglas. Released on Greenleaf Music.  Distribution through Jazzhead records.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.03.30 PMHexis
with George Lewis
(2014) JazzHead Records

Fresh off the back of their recent Australian Jazz Award win for BEST AVANT GARDE Album of the Year, the groundbreaking Monash Art Ensemble release a brilliant new album, Hexis.

American composer and faculty member at Columbia University, George Lewis arranged the works specifically for the Ensemble, as part of Monash University’s International Artist In Resident program.

The ensemble is lead by Paul Grabowsky (piano) with Lewis on trademark trombone as well as electronics, and the Australian Art Orchestra with select students and esteemed staff from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.08.06 PMSelf titled
The Monash Art Ensemble 
(2013) JazzHead Records

Produced, directed and composed by Grabowsky, a wonderfully compelling two works are performed here. The mood begins with divinely sparse and introspective tones leading on to sparkling with drama and intensity and back around again. 

Variations, ‘d’un goût étranger based on a Theme By Marin Marais’, a beautiful melody from a time long ago, is the first work performed alongside highly personalised portraits of particularly influential composers and musicians. Grabowsky has conceived a powerful “conversation across time and space”. 

The second work, ‘Tall Tales’ is a journey through three different types of musical language. The first movement is inspired by the manikay songforms of the Yolgnu people of Northern Australia. These are songs of identity, spirit and place. Tall Tales is also dedicated to the great Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.


  • 2016 APRA AMCOS Art Music Award for Jazz Work of the Year for Nyilipidgi.
  • 2015 Bell Award for Best Australian Contemporary Avant-garde Jazz Album: Hexis
  • 2014 APRA Art Music Award Jazz Work of the Year: Tall Tales by Paul Grabowsky
  • 2014 APRA Art Music Award for Instrumental Work of the Year: Aerea by Mary Finsterer
  • 2013 Bell Award for Best Avant Garde Recording: Monash Art Ensemble
  • Best Young Jazz Artist 

Reviews and Media

Eugene Ball reviews Fabliaux for Loud Mouth

5 star review of Fabliaux by John McBeath in the Australian

4 star review of Hexis by critic John Shand 

Paul Grabowsky writes about the journey to Nyilipidgy

4 star review of the Monash Art Ensemble’s self-titled album in the Australian

“Universities are places of excellence where ‘cutting-edge’ research takes place. This CD is an exemplar of what is music in the 21st century, and success at the Australian Bell Awards is a testament that music  produced at The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music is indeed a leader of practice-based research in this country and possibly the world”.
 – Associate Professor Robert Burke


Megan Burslem
Manager of the Monash Art Ensemble
Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music
Building 68, 55 Scenic Boulevard
Monash University
Clayton, VIC, 3800
Phone: 03 9902 0365  |  0427 356 121

Paul Grabowsky
Executive Director
Academy of Performing Arts, Monash University
External Relations, Development and Alumni
Office of the Vice-Chancellor and President
Director of the Monash Art Ensemble
Monash University
Clayton, VIC, 3800
Phone: 03 9905 1683

Robert Burke
Coordinator of Jazz and Popular Studies
Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music
Building 68, 55 Scenic Boulevard
Monash University
Clayton, VIC, 3800
Phone: 03 9905 1332