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Judith Clingan - a short history in pictures

Judith (Judy) Clingan, born Sydney 1945, is a multi-facetted Australian artist: musician, visual artist, writer, director, educator. She is best known as a musician.

1966 grad photo.jpg
discussing composition with Larry.jpg


discussing composition with Larry Sitsky


Graduation from ANU in French and Early English (also visible are Prime Minister Robert Menzies and H.G. Coombs, as well as Prof. Hans Kuhn) 

JAC and Donald.jpg


learning to conduct Donald Hollier's opera In Dulci Jubilo

Conducting CCC SSA in First National Choral Festival.jpg
JAC 1980 award.jpeg


Receiving Social Services Award for Services to Children, presented by Margaret Whitlam


Conducting Canberra Children's Choir SSA at first National Choral Festival in Hobart

teaching 1985.jpg


teaching Kodály musicianship to 
Gaudeamus young children

playing bassoon in costume.jpg


playing bassoon with Gaudeamus 
Early Music Group

AM photo_for homepage.jpg


being invested as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) by Her Majesty the Queen

in costume with bass crumhorn 1987.jpg


with bass crumhorn, on tour with 
Gaudeaumus Adult Early Music Group


with the Gaudeamus cast of my musical version

of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood 
(performed with my musical and stage direction)

With cast of UMW 1987.jpg
backstage Joshua 1987.jpg


backstage at the ANU Arts Centre
during Paul Thom's of production Handel's Joshua 
(the most experienced Gaudeamus singers formed
one of the choruses)

explaining Nganbra 1988.jpg


explaining Nganbra, music theatre looking at the coming of English settlers to the Canberra region

painting wheel for TB-TI 1989.jpg
conducting Afdrican Sanctus.jpg


conducting David Fanshawe's African Sanctus


Creative Arts Fellow at the ANU - painting the set for Terra Beata - Terra Infirma

with Gaudeamus EM group 1990.jpg


Gaudeamus Early Music Group preparing for tour of Finland (ISME conference)

 2000 conducting in Italy.jpg


conducting combined Wayfarers Choir
in Italy

Wayfarers in Museum 2002.jpg


Wayfarers performing in the National Museum

Gagging 2004.jpg


with A Chorus of Women in Parliament House - gagging in response to censorship

Judy singing Messiash.JPG


Judy singing soprano solo in 
Wayfarer's Messiah



JAC 2010 3.jpeg


JAC solo Tree of Life.jpeg


Performing with A Chorus of Women during the 
So Good A Thing Festival, in the Albert Hall

judy conduct.jpg


at the So Good A thing Festival in Albert Hall, conducting the finale of Donald Hollier's opera In Dulci Jubilo with the audience

13. Judith and Jiren both painting backdrop 2014.jpg
conducting in China 2016.jpg


Conducting in China


painting backdrop for Judy's opera Marco in Taiwan

JAC Sep 16 2017.jpg


discussing the program during 
Canberra Children's Choir's 50th Anniversary



speaking about the beginnings of the Summer Music Schools for Children
at the Young Music Society's 50th anniversary gala afternoon at the Albert Hall



A self-taught composer from childhood, Judith studied with Larry Sitsky at the Canberra School of Music in 1971, and also worked with mentor Donald Hollier (Canberra School of Music). A fully represented composer with the Australian Music Centre since 1986, she has received many commissions, fellowships and awards, many funded by the Australia Council. Her compositions are most often for voices: choral songs, SSA and SATB, song cycles, operas, cantatas, masses, ballet, film music and music theatre. She has also written for recorder ensemble and other chamber instrumental combinations. Besides music for performance, Judith has written many songs for use in schools - some are published in Songs of the Tree of Life, volumes 1 and 2. Details of major compositions can be found in musical life.


Judith studied choral conducting with Donald Hollier and Hans Günther Mommer in Canberra and with Péter Erdei in Hungary. She has conducted many of the European choral masterpieces, as well as all of her own compositions and new works she commissioned from other Australian composers. She has been the Musical Director / Conductor of SCUNA (ANU Choral Soceity), Canberra Children's Choir, Tasmania University Choral Society, Sundry Singers Hobart, National Choral Festival Youth Chorus, Combined Youth Choirs of Canberra, Gaudeamus, Lady's Mantle, Voicebox Youth Opera South Australia and Canberra, Wayfarers Australia (aka Waldorf Wayfarers), the Variables (Canberra), Canberra Choral Society, Cyrenes Women's Choir, Gay and Lesbian Choir Canberra, and Oriana Chorale Canberra. She has shared these positions with the Canberra Recorder and Early Music Society (CREMS) and A Chorus of Women.


Judith studied voice from the age of 18 with Pat Davey, Eleanor Houston, William Herbert (Canberra School of Music), and Lois Bogg in Canberra, and with Boldizsar Keönch in Hungary. She has sung Lieder and solos in medieval and renaissance repertoire and many contemporary works in Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, and worldwide.

Wind Player

Judith played recorder (both C and F fingerings) from childhood, taught by her father (Victor Clingan had been a professional clarinettist and saxophonist). Subsequently she studied from time to time with Hans-Dieter Michatz. She has performed many baroque sonatas as well as performing in early music ensembles and contemporary compositions. Judith took up the bassoon in 1968, studying with Martin Woolley and Ric McIntyre at the Canberra School of Music, and played in the Canberra Youth Orchestra, the Boccherini Orchestra at the ANU, and the Tasmanian University Players.

Early Music

Judith has been fortunate throughout her life to be directed by some of Australia's leading early music exponents, particularly Winsome Evans. Besides using her voice and recorder skills in early music, Judith has also performed on dulcimers, psaltery, handbells, crumhorns and gemshorns. 

Music Educator

Judith has taught music privately since she was a university student: recorder, musicianship, voice and composition. She has also taught classroom music in many schools, both primary and secondary. From 1981-1982 she studied music education at the Kodály Institute in Hungary, gaining a Diploma of Music Education with distinctions in solfège and chamber music performance. Since 1991 Judith has been teaching music to students, teachers, parents and trainee teachers in Steiner / Waldorf schools and teacher training institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, UK and Asia.


Throughout Judith's school years she was constantly drawing and painting, and wanted to be an artist. But life turned out differently - and once music was a daily part of Judith's life, her visual art practice waned. But she still yearned to study art: she studied part-time at the Canberra School of Art in 1970-71, full-time at the Hobart College of Advanced Education in 1972, part-time again at the Canberra School of Art 2006-08 and full-time at the ANU School of Art, Canberra 2010-11, majoring in painting. 

Judith made a living from drawing and painting portraits in the 1970s and 1980s; she has illustrated several books, notably using scraperboard; using watercolour, she has designed covers for records, cassettes and CDs, and posters and program covers for performances, as well as designing costumes, props and sets. She has taught art in schools and community workshops.


Judith has written many poems and libretti for her own songs and larger musical works, receiving Australia Council Literature Board funding for several. Across the decades, she has written more than 100 scripts for Imagine Music Theatre workshops for children and young people, as well as for her other community groups, and schools, which have been performed around the world.


Through her performances in many operas, directed by innovative Australian practitioners, Judith gained the impetus to direct her own productions. She studied drama and set design in Canberra, at NIDA and in the UK. She has been the stage director as well as the musical director for many operas and music theatre works which have toured Australia and overseas.


Basically, Judith loves teaching anything she loves to anyone who loves learning. She has taught music to all ages from three years to the elderly; all stages from total beginner to tertiary level composition and music education, as well as working with people with varying abilities. Through Wayfarers Australia tours and her Imagine Music Theatre workshops every school holidays in Canberra, she has encouraged children from six years up to explore singing, instrumental work, composition, acting, direction, creative writing, lighting, set design and visual art. And often young people who have enjoyed these processes as children have stayed with her and become her assistant teachers.


1967 Songs of Middle Earth played on ABC

1971 Invited by Olivier Messiaen to study composition with him in Paris (travel funds unavailable)

1974 Invited by Musica Viva to form and direct a small professional vocal ensemble to tour Australia (motherhood intervened)

1980 Social Services Award for services to children in Canberra

1981 Hungarian Government scholarship

1981 ACT Arts Bureau Travel Grant

1984 Retrospective Australia Council Grant for composition of Modal Magic

1985 Arts ACT commission for Rime of the Ancient Mariner

1986 Kodály Institute Sydney commission for opera Francis

1986 made member of the Order of Australia (AM)

1987 invited by New Zealand Society of Music Education to tour her compositions around schools of New Zealand

1988 Bicentennial funding for Nganbra

1988 ABC gifted studio recording of Nganbra

1989 ANU Creative Arts Fellow (Terra Beata - Terra Infirma)

1990 invited to perform Kakadu at the International Society for Music Education conference in Helsinki

1991 Australia Council Composition Fellowship

1991 inaugural Canberra Times Artist of the Year

1991 Sounds Australian award for Kakadu

1991 Invited to perform with Gaudeamus at Come Out Festival, Adelaide

1992 Australia Council funding for Mythical Beasts

1993 Commissioned by Orana School, funded by Australia council, to write Songs of the Tree of Life

1994 Carclew South Australia funding for opera Marco performance

1996 Adelaide Fringe Festival funding for touring Williamson’s opera The Happy Prince

1997 artsACT commission for Vociebox Youth Opera The Magician's Nephew

1997 Women Composers Festival Sydney commissions 

1999 Churchill Fellowship to study music theatre in UK and Europe

1999 CAPO funding to make CD Choralations

2000 artsACT Creative Artists Fellowship

2001-03 Gavemer Foundation funding for vocal improvisation performances

2004 Artist in Residence, Archaeomythology conference, Sofia, Bulgaria

2006 ACT finalist ABC Choir of the Year competition (with Wayfarers Australia)

2009 nominated as ACT finalist for Senior Australian of the Year

2014 Art Music State Award for Excellence by an Individual

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