Member Profile - Music Arrangers Guild of Australia

Member Profile: James Humberstone

Home Phone:
+61 (02) 8901 0877

Mobile Phone:
+61 (0)432 800 780


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BMus (Hons) composition, Exeter University; MMus composition, Sydney University

Warner Chappell, Alfred Publishing, Hal Leonard, AMPD, Blitz Books, Halle Orchestra (Manchester), Symphony Australia, Warner Brothers, and to many Australian composers including Anne Boyd, Jonathan Mills, Nigel Westlake, Mark Issacs and Julian Yu.

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James Humberstone was born in the Lake District in England. He began to compose at an early age, writing music for his school and orchestral and wind repertoire for the community ensembles he played in. In 1992, he visited Australia for the first time, with a commission to write his viola concerto funding the trip, and after graduating from the University of Exeter four years later, migrated permanently to Sydney.

At Exeter, Humberstone studied with Philip Grange and James Clapperton. But it was the music of Howard Skempton which influenced him the most, and Humberstone studied privately with the well-known English composer before moving to Australia.

Once established in Sydney he undertook masters studies at Sydney University with Anne Boyd, whose influence and friendship are still felt in Humberstone’s music today. The start of the new decade brought a series of performances of new chamber and orchestral concert works including Ropaloon (2001), God-Child (2003), Chance : Chants (2005) and Requiem (2005–2006).

In recent times, Humberstone has been working on commissions and residencies in the field of education, writing for schools all over Australia. The new K to 6 children’s opera Kiravanu (2008) represents the meeting of Humberstone’s love of composition and music education, an enormous project that has taken two years and marries pedagogy and composition. It is also the centrepiece of his PhD, which he is currently working on at the University of New South Wales. Humberstone is a full time composer-in-residence at MLC School, Sydney.

As a copyist, Humberstone has worked for many of the world's biggest publishers as well as many Australian composers.