Mace Francis


Welcome. It is a bit silly for me to pretend that it is anyone else writing this so here is a little bit about me…

After being raised by hippies in Geelong, Victoria and spending my youth playing guitar and listening to bands ranging from The Ramones to Neil Young, I made my way across the country to Perth to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) where I graduated in 2004 with First Class honours in Jazz Composition. It wasn’t until my time at WAAPA that I discovered modern big bands – The first time I heard Bob Brookmeyer’s “Remembering” I became a big band junkie.

Since 2005 I have focused on composing for big bands forming the Mace Francis Orchestra (MFO) as a vehicle to explore composition, self expression and a great way to get together with friends and play music. Since forming, MFO has recorded 10 albums, toured nationally four times (2006, 2008, 2010 & 2011) and performed with international artists Jim Pugh (USA), Jon Gordon (NY), John Hollenbeck (GER/NY), Satoko Fujii (JAP), Natsuki Tamura (JAP), Theo Bleckmann (NY) and Ed Partyka (Austria). My 2015 album, Music For Average Photography, won the 2015 APRA AMCOS Art Music Award for Jazz Work of the Year. 2024 will see the release of No Postcode. MFO’s 10th album.

During this time I have been successful in being awarded a few prizes which have helped both financially to further my studies as well as build a bit more profile. 2004 was a great year being awarded the APRA Professional Development Award which allowed me to spend some time in Austria studying with Ed Partyka to hang out with the late great Bob Brookmeyer and his New Art Orchestra – a time that I will never forget. That same year I also won the international Italian composition prize “Scrivere in Jazz” hosted by the Jazz Orchestra of Sardinia. Some other nice awards have been the “2007 Most Out-Standing Individual Contribution to Jazz in WA” by the Perth Jazz Society, being inducted into the “WAYJO Hall of Fame” in 2018, and being a finalist in the 2010 MCA Freedman Fellowship which was decided by a performance at the Sydney Opera House in August – I didn’t win but it was great to perform at the Opera House with The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra – plus two Australian Jazz Bell Award nominations (2013 & 2016). In 2017 I was the recipient of the Prelude Gallop House Composer in Residence which allowed my 12 months to create music without paying rent. Love Songs I Love was the result of that year. in 2022 I was awarded another APRA AMCOS Art Music Award, this time a State Luminary Award artistic direction and composition in WA.

In 2008 I was appointed artistic director of the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO), an organisation that I have been involved with as both a musician and musical director since 2001. Since then I have been able to implement an emerging composer in residence program which gives young composers the same opportunities that WAYJO gave me many years ago and we have worked with international guest artists Fred Wesley, Jim McNeely, Franck Tortillier, Ed Partyka, Ed Neumeister, Darcy James Argue and Allen Vizzutti, Dick Oatts as well as national artists Mat Jodrell, Michelle Nichole, Ellen Kirkwood, Dave Theak, Kristin Berardi, Ross Irwin, Mike Stewart and Sarah McKenzie. In 2023 WAYJO celebrated its 40th anniversary.

In 2015 I completed a PhD researching site-specific composition. This research has led me to some new areas in the music/sound world including a commission for new-music ensemble Decibel and creating soundscapes and sound design for dance and theatre. I love how life has taken me on a journey that twists and turns into realms that I never considered. I am looking forward to the next adventure and hope to meet you sometime.

In 2018 I was appointed Artistic Director of the Perth International Jazz Festival and have now presented 7 festivals. In 2023 I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research jazz festivals and jazz orchestras in Europe to learn what I can and bring that information back to Perth to make both PIJF and WAYJO better organisations.

If you want to know a little more please download my Artist Biography or a Short Version as PDF.