Australian composer George Palmer (b.1947) studied piano with several eminent teachers and has been composing since he was a teenager. However, he graduated in law, practiced as a barrister, and in 2001 was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He retired as a Judge in 2011 to devote himself entirely to composition.
In 2003 Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, broadcast a concert of his orchestral music and a television program devoted to his emergence as a composer. ABC Classics subsequently released two CDs, Attraction of Opposites, containing his orchestral music, and Exultate Dominum, containing choral music. His Concerto for Two Clarinets and Chamber Orchestra, It Takes Two, has also been released by ABC Classics.
Palmer’s opera of Tim Winton’s best-selling novel, Cloudstreet, was premiered by State Opera South Australia in May 2016 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. It received standing ovations and rave reviews and was acclaimed by the music critic of the leading national newspaper, The Australian, as “a resounding triumph.” In 2008, his Mass for soloists, massed choir, and large orchestra, Benedictus Qui Venit, commissioned for the Pope’s visit to Australia, was performed to an outdoor audience of 350,000.
His works include music for large orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir a cappella, and with orchestra, song cycles, and concertos for a variety of instruments. His music has been performed throughout Australia and New Zealand, and in the USA and Europe.
From 2004 to 2011 he was President of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, a nonprofit organization funded by Federal and State Governments to provide legal and business advice pro bono to artists in all mediums, with particular focus on Indigenous artists. From 2003 to 2015 he was Chair of Pacific Opera, a not-for-profit company devoted to encouraging and developing the careers of Australia’s best emerging opera singers.
In 2010 Palmer was made a Member of the Order of Australia “for services to the law as a judge and to music as a composer and in leadership roles.”