Monash Art Ensemble

In 2012 the Foundation agreed with Monash University to co-fund the ‘Monash Art Ensemble Project’, which is a collaboration between the music department of Monash University and the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO) led by Prof Paul Grabowsky. The aim is to share the extensive experience of both groups to develop the performance skills of outstanding young musicians.

Paul Grabowsky conducting Monash Art Ensemble rehearsals

The Monash Art Ensemble gives talented students a chance to perform with some of Australia’s foremost improvisers at Melbourne’s most prestigious jazz venues. It places experienced AAO players, with students chosen by audition and visiting artists and musical directors to create performances which explore the notion of what a 21st century musician could be – a true global citizen in sound.

The ensemble had its premiere performance in late 2012 where it played three works by Paul Grabowsky. Since then, the MAE has had an active schedule of performances at many venues including Monash University, Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club and the Melbourne, Stonnington and Wangaratta Jazz Festivals. These performances have showcased newly commissioned work and collaborations with many distinguished local and overseas jazz musicians, providing the student members of the Ensemble unique opportunities to develop their performance skills and broaden their artistic horizons.


Recording of works commissioned by the MAE is a key objective of the project, and seven acclaimed albums have now been released:

  • Monash Art Ensemble (2012) “Best Australian Contemporary ‘Avant-garde’ Jazz Album” 2014 Australian Jazz Bell Awards
  • Hexis (with George Lewis) (2103) “Best Australian Contemporary ‘Avant-garde’ Jazz Album” 2015 Australian Jazz Bell Awards
  • Fabliaux (composed by and featuring Dave Douglas) (2014)
  • Nyilipidgi (with the Young Wagilak Group) (2015)
  • Histories (Robert Burke and Marc Hannaford) (2016)
  • Zephyrix (composed by Barney McAll) (2018)
  • Hear Now Here (9 contemporary Australian composers) (2019)

Inaugural, award-winning, self-titled CD


A highlight of the 2015 Melbourne Jazz Festival – and one of the most significant projects undertaken by the MAE - was the sold-out performance of Nyilipidgi, in which the MAE joined forces with the Young Wagilak Group of South East Arnhem Land to premiere a new multi-movement suite by Paul Grabowsky. Blending the musical heritage of Australia’s first people with contemporary composition and improvisation, this collaboration celebrates the reconciliatory power of music, showcasing master musicians from the world’s oldest living culture alongside some of the country’s finest jazz artists.

The Vizard Foundation provided initial funding to establish the Monash Art Ensemble between 2012 and 2017, during which time the MAE developed the exceptional reputation it now enjoys.