photo: Nigel Foote

John Summers began his professional composing career in 1973, writing music for schools for a touring theater company, where he produced every type of production, from educational musicals for young kids to setting curriculum poetry (Shakespeare, Eliot, etc) to music. This continued until 1977, and in the process, he visited every small and large town in the Eastern states of Australia.

In 1978 Summers was chosen as composer and musical director for a 13-part children’s series for ABC Television Sydney. In 1982 he was appointed composer-in-residence in North Queensland, working for the Arts Council. 

Meanwhile, between these commitments, Summers made a living as a musician, including roles as a pit musician for various theatrical productions, several being at the Sydney Opera House. 

Summers moved to the United Kingdom in 1987 for four years and pursued his alternative career in audio electronics. At the same time, he began composing classical pieces. One of his first pieces made the finals of the Tokyo Classical Guitar Competition in 1988.

In the following years, he wrote extensively for SATB choir and guitar and oboe, amongst other ensemble combinations. His next finalist composition was a 1992 SATB acapella piece for St. Aldate’s in Oxford.

Summers returned to Australia in 1991, where he continued to write for various ensemble combinations, which included a string quartet, wind ensembles, and vocal works, including several song cycles.

In 1995, he designed, built, and operated Lee Street Studios, a recording facility that specializes in recording acoustic and classical music. It is still operating to this day. 

Summers continues to write music from his home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.


A Grand Journey Vol 2

A Grand Journey Vol. 2

Release Date: August 11, 2023
Catalog Number: NV6550
21st Century
Piano Trio
With music echoing themes of persistence in the face of adversity, calls for reflection and attention on acts of injustice, and more, A GRAND JOURNEY VOL. 2 delivers resounding chamber music from a diverse range of contemporary composers. Performed by the critically-acclaimed Trio Casals, this Navona Records release offers a variety of sounds, from traditional classical forms to jazz-infused rhythms, mixed meters, and a deeply-moving piece for solo cello.

Playing on the Edge 3

Release Date: July 14, 2023
Catalog Number: NV6520
21st Century
String Quartet
The Sirius Quartet returns with the long-anticipated PLAYING ON THE EDGE 3, adding to their ever-thrilling catalog with a fresh batch of imaginative compositions hailing from today’s composers. This installment of the acclaimed series dives into the concept of beauty, expressing itself in an extraordinary duality, with each work contributing its own unique take on the whole. PLAYING ON THE EDGE 3 offers up a vibrant and challenging selection, a verbose continuation of theme. From beginning to end, the Sirius Quartet proves that they’re not just playing on the edge — they’re living on it too.

Quadrants Vol. 4

Release Date: January 13, 2023
Catalog Number: NV6483
21st Century
Vocal Music
String Quartet
QUADRANTS VOL. 4 comes as the fourth installment of Navona's acclaimed series of string quartet recordings by contemporary composers. This time, a variety of ensembles perform a selection of pieces by Daniel Gil, Jacob E. Goodman, John Summers, Sami Seif, and Judith Lang Zaimont. Like its predecessors, QUADRANTS VOL. 4 presents musical creations that are highly structured, thoroughly conceptualized and profoundly cerebral, drawing upon subject matters as diverse as Kabbalistic philosophy, English urban poetry, and Arabic cultural identity, among others. Often the result of years-long toil, these compositions are by no means easy to perform – but each ensemble masterfully succeeds with virtuosic panache.

Playing on the Edge 2

Release Date: October 23, 2020
Catalog Number: NV6315
21st Century
String Quartet
PLAYING ON THE EDGE 2 follows up Navona Records' first Gramophone-lauded album in this series for string quartet. Like the first installment, the award-winning Sirius Quartet plays the entire catalogue to perfection.