Bernard Houston - composer

 
 

Bernard Houston is a prolific composer and musician.  Using a wide range of compositional and arranging techniques including improvisation, orchestral composition, noise art, big band, pop and rock he has written music for numerous film, theatre and cabaret performances. 


His many film credits include "The Foal" that has screened in over 16 national and international film festivals including the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.


Bernard has a passion for cabaret.  With theatre director Freddy Komp he developed and produced "projet.Prevert", a cabaret celebrating the poetry of Jacques Prevert as part of the Judith Wright Fresh Ground Initiative.  This was staged as part of the 2012 Brisbane Cabaret Festival.  From 2012 to 2014 Bernard composed for and produced the Babble-On project.  This monthly series of cabaret performances was staged at the Library Cafe - State Library of Queensland. 


Through the same period he was music director for "The Empire Returneth" and "The Jedi Striketh Back", two plays interpreting Stars Wars through the lens of Shakespearean iambic pentameter and staged as part of the Brisbane Anywhere Festival.  From 2005 to 2009 he was music director for the Judith Wright Centre "Emerge Series" with credits including "Getting Betterer All the Time", "The Carbon Footprint Cabaret" and "Batavia".


Bernard is also a prolific and accomplished song writer.  In 1997 his band Mythica won three Queensland Recording Association Awards for their second album "East of the Sun, West of the Moon".  As a personal challenged in 2010 Bernard decided to write, record and post online a new song every week for a year.  The 52 Songs project attracted local and national ABC radio coverage and featured notable Brisbane performers including Alison St Ledger and Sandro Correlli.  One song from this project "Blue Skies" has been adopted by the Advanced Breast Cancer Group for their cause.


A versatile flautist, Bernard confidently plays and improvises in many styles.  As well as flute he also plays piano, guitar and percussion.


Bernard has a deep interest in world music.  Journeying from his own Irish/ Scottish cultural roots he has studied North African and African percussion as well as Indian singing.  Bernard currently plays in several Brazilian ensembles specialising in dance styles such as forro and samba.


As a session music Bernard has featured on numerous albums including "Music Inspired by the Titanic" (Hart Records) "In Nightfall's Embrace" (Awaken Solace) and "Dreaming" (Clare Quinn).  He regularly performs with a variety of groups around Brisbane.


Bernard's latest musical projects are "Orsino's Safari" and "Kabuki Kombi".  "Orsino's Safari is a quartet of genre blending instrumentalists that uses 'Cello, guitar, violin and flute to take an adventure through music where the prize outweighs the risks and the journey takes you across continents and instrumental styles.  "Kabuki Kombi" is a collaboration with noted singer Kate Downey.  Together they write songs that butter a bit pop on top of a rich bed of gypsy jazz rhythms.

 

What others say about Bernard Houston


Noel Mengel (Courier Mail) on Cappuccino Cowgirl.  "Don't think the only interesting original music being made in Brisbane is rock'n'roll.  We've heard some of the music from the local show The Cappuccino Cowgirl and it's most impressive."


Tim Milfull (reviews.media-culture.org.au) on Con’s Spire. “Director of Singing, Bernard Houston’s distinctive interpretations of popular songs, unaccompanied by musical instruments, allow the cast to establish mood and message as the story evolves.”


Dr. Stephen SZE Man Hung (Chairman of the Hong Kong Film Critic’s Association) on Half Lit (feature). “The exceptional music score created a pitch perfect atmosphere in supporting the images onscreen.”


Ben Cornfoot (Homunculus Theatre)

Clint Bolster and I worked closely with Bernard in the development of a soundscape and musical score for our Clown show The Treasure Hunt. We provided the story and movement and Bernard took his cue from that to write the music and source and create the myriad sound effects. It was a big job and a tight timeframe but he delivered! Bernard really listened to us explain our vision, and was able to extrapolate and expand on it, offering his own creative ideas and anticipate and avoid pitfalls we hadn't thought of. We collaborated extremely well. Bernard was continually positive and amenable, even when we wanted to make last minute changes and additions. His technical sound knowledge and composing talent was essential to the project's success. We would recommend Bernard highly.