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"...a classically trained player/composer
and jazz guitarist of considerable
skill and subtlety..."

Rhythms Magazine                

   Guitarist/composer Michael Knopf performs on a 7- string classical guitar made by Tasmanian Luthier Allan Bull.

Playing classical repertoire, jazz standards, and evocative and mind-stretching originals, he aims to perform at the highest level combining elements from his eclectic guitar-playing career spanning 45 years. Elements of Jazz, Rock, Classical, Flamenco, Persian, Middle-Eastern and 20th-century compositional ideas present themselves in his playing.

Michael has pursued the evolution of an individual guitar style. He has done this by combining all the elements of his diverse musical career in new material for solo guitar and for his trio Acoustica & his Centauri Ensemble and most recently for his Zafron Road Project.

His recordings exemplify his diverse approaches to performing and composing. Caracas, his earliest recording consists of original bebop and mainstream pieces. Acoustica - Live at the Rondo shows his interest in playing Jazz on the classical guitar using Flamenco and Eastern influences.

Still is a recording of contemporary art pieces with members from the Centauri Ensemble and soprano Louise Kennedy and cellist Louise King. Each piece is evocative of the composer's interest in nature, art and philosophy. Michael's solo guitar releases include Solo, which is a collection of Jazz covers and unique original pieces that explore the sonority of his instrument, while A Life is a journey through his eclectic performance and compositional styles.

Guitar Chant features Michael's unique contribution to guitar literature with his vocal-chant style of guitar music-making. It brings together pieces from the previous two albums along with two new pieces to feature this highly idiomatic and resonant guitar style that draws on Flamenco, Arab, Indian and Persian chant practices, and contemporary guitar techniques. The result is a new field of classical guitar playing.

Michael's most recent recording is Zafron Road Project which features new works composed for Jazz trio, classical, resonator and 12 string guitars, cello and traditional Persian instruments and voice.

About this project, Michael has said

"I have been much occupied with exploring diverse musical concepts in many genres in my work. ZRP is no exception, understanding musical contrasts and commonalities inherent in four distinct genres; Persian traditional and classical music, Jazz, Flamenco and Western Art practices. I sense that the musics of Central Asia, the Middle-East, southern Europe and North Africa share a spiritual ancestor. Though there was no "saffron road" in these areas, I hear variations on a theme in their approaches to nuance and idea, as if the path each had taken had had a common origin. Even Jazz with its roots in Africa seems to refer back to some of the Arab modes through its "blue notes". ZRP takes these perceptions as its raison d'être. It seeks to interweave the varied strands of these and Western musics into a new aesthetic entity."

The piece Esfahan, was awarded first prize in the Allan Zavod Classical-Jazz Fusion Performance Award in September 2010. It features electronic music, Persian song, and Jazz and Western Classical conventions in a new aesthetic that melds these into a broader musical experience.

Michael is an active composer dedicated to unfolding an original repertoire for the guitar both solo and in ensemble. He is also deeply involved in creating new choral sounds as in his large work Cantillations for choir and chamber strings, percussion and piano. In past years Michael has specialized in composing music for cello and has also written many works for choir, jazz ensembles, chamber music and orchestral works. The most recent of the latter is his Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra - The New Earth which unites his diverse guitar experiences into a major concert work. It consists of 3 movements and a cadenza that is accompanied by a pre-recorded soundscape of a stratocaster guitar feeding back whilst on fire, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix's burning of a guitar at Monterey.

Guitar Chant

Michael Knopf 'Zafron Road Project'

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Michael Knopf 'Guitar Chant'

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Michael has recently been notified of of receiving the Zavod Jazz Classical Fusion Composer's Award administered by Melbourne University. Last year, Michael also received first prize in the Zavod Jazz Classical Fusion Performer's Award in September 2010 and is the only musician to have received both awards. The performer's award was administered by Monash university and funded by Dame Murdoch.

The awards were given based on work that Michael had prepared and submitted for his professional doctorate at the Queensland Conservatorium. The composer's prize was for his composition The New Earth - Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra and the performer's prize was for Michael's recording of Esfahan a work for an ensemble of traditional Persian, Jazz, and Classical musicians and pre-recorded sounds with Michael on guitars. Michael and his ensemble flew to Melbourne to perform Esfahan at Blackwood hall.

Michael's new choral work Be Silent was also recently performed by the Brisbane Chamber Choir under the direction of Graeme Morton as part of the Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival at St. John's Cathedral in Brisbane.


Get in touch with Michael for any enquiries regarding Composition Commissioning or Concert bookings - for Solo performances or with his band Centauri

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