Padma Newsome is an Australian composer, arranger, and performer (violin, viola, voice) based in Mallacoota, Victoria. His musical palette expresses colors of the modernist avant garde, folk music from India, chamber music remnants, and the energy founded in the pop/rock world. He composes for traditional large and small ensemble, the electro-acoustic medium, improvised chamber ensemble, music for dance and theatre, and develops arrangements for several rock bands.
Padma Newsome is a composer, performer, and recording artist, born in Alice Springs, Australia in 1961. He trained as a concert violist in Sydney, touring throughout Australia, China and the Pacific. In the mid 1980’s, he left classical performance to spend six years on an ashram in New South Wales where he taught yoga, studied Indian classical music and participated in the center’s musical activities. Newsome began formal studies in composition in the 1990’s at the University of Adelaide and continued at Yale University on a Fulbright scholarship.
His musical palette expresses colors of the modernist avant-garde, folk music from India and chamber music remnants along with energy of the pop/rock world. He composes for traditional large and small ensemble, the electro-acoustic medium, improvised chamber ensemble and music for dance, theatre and film. Padma resides in Mallacoota, Australia, where he mentors, teaches, conducts the Mallacoota Choir and is a leading light for regional community music projects.
Padma Newsome is the musical director and composer for Clogs, a new and improvising ensemble that has toured throughout Europe, the United States, Australia, and Canada. His repertoire for Clogs infuses contemporary classical music with the traditional rhythms and harmonies of folk music, driving energy of rock and ample room for improvisation. The ensemble was awarded the prestigious CMA/NEA Special Commissioning Award in 2003 in recognition of its achievements in the field of new and improvised chamber music, and has also received several residency grants from Chamber Music America. Clogs has released 5 albums and two EPs featuring Newsome’s compositions,: Thom's Night Out (2001), Lullaby for Sue (2003), Stick Music (2004), Lantern (2006), Veil Waltz (2009) on the Brassland/USA and Southern Records/Europe labels. Their 5th album, “The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton” was released in 2009. The record features Newsome’s new songs for Clogs with guest vocalists Matt Berninger of the National, Sufjan Stevens, and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. The music was composed during his residency in Ischia, Italy, made possible by a Commissioning and Residency award from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University in 2004/5.
In 2012, Clogs in collaboration with the Mallacoota Community Choir, released a 3 song EP, “The Sundown Song”. The EP featured Newsome’s rich and lyrical Baritone voice, singing solo and performing all instrumental tracks. Since then, his voice has become a feature of his concerts, performing with the The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra at BAM, the Adelaide Art Orchestra at the Adelaide Festival, 2013, and with the Orchestra of the Next Century at the Ecstatic Music Festival, Merkin Hall, NY, 2013. In 2014, to critical acclaim, he recorded the solo baritone role in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s new song cycle, “Unremembered”. This work is featured in his 2017 tour of Holland and the US, where he performed with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Doelen ensemble at the Cross Linx Festival, Holland, and the Knights, New York City.
In addition to his work with Clogs, Newsome is an orchestrator/arranger/violinist/ keyboardist with American rock band, The National. With the release of Boxer in 2007, The National became synonymous with a kind of gritty rock, fused with dark orchestrations. The 2010 release, “High Violet”, featuring Newsome’s (et al) BloodBuzz Ohio, rose to critical acclaim and is their most popular record to date. In his role as orchestrator/arranger, Padma has also mentored various “Indie” rock artists, such as Shara Worden and Johnny Rogers. His recent collaborations include: Daniel Helin (Belgium), Zachary Miskin (France) and The Devastations (Australia).
As a concert violist, he has performed with Sydney new music ensemble, the Seymour Group, Goossens String Quartet, Adelaide's Fresh Air, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, working under numerous conductors such as Sir Christopher Hogwood, Zdenek Macal, Sir Charles Makkerras, and Stuart Challender. He has performed throughout China, Fiji, the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, Russia, Turkey, and Australia in venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House, Madison Square Gardens, Hollywood Bowl, The Famous Spiegeltent (Sydney Festival), Brighton Festival Dome, Royal Festival Hall for the London Jazz Festival, The Royal Albert Hall, Toronto Opera House, MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati, to New York City’s Merkin Hall, Weill Hall Carnegie Hall, CBGB’s, The Knitting Factory, and Bowery Ballroom, to name a few. He has played at numerous festival’s in Europe and the United States, including: Glastonbury, Bonaroo, Pitchfork, SXSW, Austin City Limits, and Sasqwatch.
Newsome’s music has been performed by ensembles such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Melbourne, Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, Locrian Chamber Players and Clogs, and by soloists including clarinetist Evan Ziporyn (Bang on a Can), guitarist Bryce Dessner, violinists Katie Lansdale and Jennifer Choi, jazz cellist Erik Friedlander, The Brooklyn Rider String Quartet, and violists Paul McMillan and Georgina Grosvenor.
He is the recipient of six consecutive ASCAPLUS Awards, winner of 2008 Plug Awards, (Best Song, w/ The National), the 2004/05 Fromm Music Foundation Commissioning and Residency Award, and an Artists Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism (formerly CT Commission on the Arts). Other grants include: Australia Council for the Arts, Vermont Arts Council, Fulbright Post-graduate Award, Symphony Australia, Arts SA, Mallacoota Arts Council, Helpmann Academy, CMA Residency Partnership Program (with Clogs) and numerous private commissions.
Recent projects include: in collaboration with Aunty Fay Stewart Muir and Lisa Kennedy, “I am the Water, goyeep, goyeep”, for 2015 The Shearwater Festival, in Boonwurrung language, 4 Pocket Commissions from (F)route, premiered at the Mallacoota Art Space, in 2016. For the past 5 years, Newsome has been composing a full length music narrative, “2 Moon Smile”. The work was completed in 2017 and had its Vermont premier in April, featuring Clogs, The Heliand Consort, 4 dancers, and Mary Bonhag, soprano. In 2018, New Amsterdam Records released Newsome first solo album, “The Vanity of Trees”, and in August of 2019, the Baroque specialist ensemble, Dual Aura released their new album, “Traveller’s Tales”, which features the commissioned work, “The Danes of Poowong East
Since moving to Mallacoota in 2004, Padma has become increasingly involved in community art and music projects. Working around East Gippsland, he has conducted community choirs, written and collaborated with local musicians, dancers, and artists, participated with workshops and performances in the Mallacoota Festivals, Bruthen Blues Festivals, Gippsland Choir Festivals, and the Millenium Chorus (as mentor and choir director), and conducts music workshops and training on a regular basis.
Newsome was educated at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide University, and Yale University. His teachers have included Dr. Martin Bresnick, Dr. Joseph Schwanter, Pundit Ashok Roy, Alexandru Todicescu, Dr. Graeme Koehne, Eleanor Havda, and Dr. Evan Ziporyn.