Evan J Lawson (b.1989, he/him/they) is one of Australia’s leading queer artists, working at the forefront of contemporary culture as composer, curator, and conductor, chiefly as artistic director of interdisciplinary company Forest Collective.
Hailed by Bridget Davies in The Age that Lawson’s innovative musical imaginations...are striking… Evan has been composing music since the age of 10, is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, and developing artist programs with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Malthouse Theatre and Gragenegg Festival. In Australia, he has studied with Benjamin Northey, Richard Gill and Johanna Selleck, and internationally with David Aronson and Matthias Pintscher who has said that his music is serene, deep, it's even breathing the heritage of Mahler. Evan was composer-in-residence at Billilla Mansion and a member of the Academy of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
As a creator of critically acclaimed, unorthodox music-theatre presentations, Evan's work includes original works such as his opera Calypso (Forest Collective, Samuel Yeo libretto, Stephanie Osztreicher dir.) dance-opera Orpheus (Forest Collective, Ashley Dougan chor., Density512 & Prismatx Ensemble) described by Clive O’Connell that ...the sonorities that emerged often proved extraordinary..., Vois (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Claire Tipy libretto, Geordie Brookman dir.) inspired by life in the digital world and a brand new digital reimaging of Arnold Schoenberg’s masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire (Forest Collective, Ashley Dougan chor., Underground Media direction and editing). Since 2020 Evan has been the resident conductor of BK Opera. Other acclaimed productions include Benjamin Britten's Curlew River (Gertrude Opera, Linda Thompson dir.), Georges Bizet’s Carmen (In Good Company, Greg Eldridge, dir.) and Claudio Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea (Gertrude Opera, Yarra Valley Opera Festival, Gale Edwards AM dir.).
Evan’s practice goes beyond the standard concert hall to encompass various collaborative works including After the long night in collaboration with Deborah Cheetham for Melbourne Pride 2022, Nico with Cabaret sensation Danielle Asciak, fluttering hearts // thinking machines by pop music doyen Addison, Chlorophyll with intrepid queer singer-songwriter Max Lawrence, the Australian premiere of Holcombe Waller's Requiem Mass: LGBT (Mardi Gras, Performance Space and CarriageWorks) and Come Away with Me to the End of the World by Adriano and Raymondo Cortese (Ranters Theatre, Malthouse Theatre and Dublin Theatre Festival).
Evan has premiered and commissioned over 100 works from various composers and artists, such as Marc Anthony Turnage, Nick Cave, Gerard Grisey, Tan Dun, Lisa Illean, Cat Hope, Dylan Lardelli, Philip Venables , Kym Dillon, and more.
Evan has performed across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA, working with a variety of companies, such as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Moravska Filharmonie, Forest Collective, ANAM Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Geelong Symphony Orchestra, Density512, Performance Space, Ranters Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Syzygy Ensemble, for Rising, Metropolis New Music Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Grafenegg Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival, Yarra Valley Opera Festival, Mardi Gras, Midsumma Festival, SoundSCAPE New Music Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre, CarriageWorks, Jinji Lake Concert Hall, and the Universities of Melbourne, Paris, Texas & Oregon.