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Sir Richard Branson and Allan Zavod on “The Environmental Symphony”



Often described as a keyboard wizard Allan Zavod a graduate of Melbourne Conservatorium was discovered by Duke Ellington who after hearing him playing jazz piano arranged for him to study at Berklee School of Music where he later held a post as professor of music.

Based in the USA for 20 years he played, recorded and toured with many music greats including Glen Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Jean Luc-Ponty and George Benson, culminating in a 1984 world tour with the legendary Frank Zappa.

America’s music bible “Downbeat Magazine” named Zavod one of the USA’s Top 10 Keyboardists of the 80’s. He has received grants and commissions to compose, orchestrate and perform original works throughout the world.

Representing Australia in 1987 he won the Asia Broadcasting Union Popular Song Contest in Kuala Lumper viewed by an audience exceeding 800 million. In 1988 the Australia Council commissioned him to compose “Concerto Australiana” a classical/jazz fusion three movement work for piano, orchestra and jazz ensemble which was performed at the Bicentennial Australia Day Celebrations, live on ABC television at the Sydney Opera House.

As a teenager in 1968 he performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Government House and in 1988 performed a work for piano and jazz choir before H.R.H Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana for the Melbourne Youth Music Council. Shortly thereafter there was an Australian Girls Choir commission for a jazz work and a composition for the Victorian Youth Symphonic Band.

In 1997 Symphony Australia commisioned Zavod to write “Concerto for Trumpet, Jazz Trio & Orchestra” for james Morrison to open the Adelaide Symphony season. The enjoyed 4 further sell out performances in 2001 at the SYdney Opera House with the prestigious Sydney Symphony Orchestra. A tour of the work with major European & Chinese orchestras featuring James & Allan is planned for 2002 to include an April performance in Munich with the Munich Symphony.

In 1996 Zavod composed a stirring sound scape for the stage adaption of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” which enjoyed huge success throughout Australia then and again in 1999. An American tour is in place for 2001.

As a film composer Allan has scored over 30 films for American and Australian film and television including a US film score with famed guitarist Eric Clapton, an award winning children’s film for “Shines” director Scott Hicks and the long running series “A Country Practice”.

Concert performances for past and present Prime Ministers and Heads of state; Government depts. (including Australia Post – “Faces of Australia), Sydney Olympics 2000 (performed original composition for International Olympic Committee), fund raisers for the Dalai Lama and other charities; producing and music directing here and over seas for popular artists as well as Network Ten’s “Good Morning Australia”; monthly writing for national music magazine “Australian Musician” occupies Zavod’s time annually.

Further commissions for 2001/2 will see Allan Zavod compose major orchestral works to include a trombone concerto for soloist James Morrison (Australia Council grant) to be performed with the Australian Youth Orchestra and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 2002.

Allan recently received an award from the Australian Composers Guild in recognition of his work in Jazz/Classical composition for which he is considered to be at the forefront.

He has recently composed a Walt Disney production having just completed a short tour with ex Hot Chocolate Emmy award winning jazz saxophonist John Altman.

Just back from performing in Hawaii with old friend George Benson, Zavod recently performed Rhapsody in Blue at the Melbourne Concert Hall and Sydney Opera House with the Australian Pops Orchestra.

In December 2001 Allan performed an all Gershwin concert in Florida on the new Blue Steinway piano called “Rhapsody” built in honour of George Gershwin to celebrate 100 years of Steinway.

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