ANU composers score two top five Billboard hits

Two composers from The Australian National University (ANU) School of Music are on top of the music world this week, with two of their albums in the top five on Billboard 200’s Classical Albums and Classical Crossover Albums charts.

Dr Kenneth Lampl, head of the ANU School of Music, and Kirsten Axelholm, worked with one of the highest-grossing bands of all time, Foreigner, to rework some of the greatest hits into classical styles for their album Foreigner with the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

The band had specific instructions for the pair in the composition phase – not to do a simple orchestral arrangement, but to reinterpret their original songs in a classical style. On the album, the band is supported by an 80-piece orchestra and 50-voice chamber choir performing songs such as I Want to Know What Love is, Feels Like the First Time and Cold as Ice.  

Dr Lampl will conduct the orchestra for the Australian tour in October this year.

“We started working with the band and the Grammy Nominated American cellist and composer, David Eggar – who has worked with Coldplay, Beyonce and The Who – in January this year. We completed the whole album over the internet, with us working from Canberra and them working from New York,” Dr Lampl said.

“We then went to Switzerland to record the album, and we’ll be touring with the band and orchestra in Australia and New Zealand later this year. The tour will take us, and some of ANU’s music students, to the Sydney Opera House and other iconic venues to perform in front of sold out audiences.”

The tour is an opportunity for ANUstudents to put into practice the skills they have been learning at the University’s School of Music, including music technology, recording and performing.

“We’re a music school of the 21st century – unlike any other music school in the world. Our focus is on graduating fully-skilled musicians with a clear career path in elite performance, composition, recording and music technology,” Dr Lampl said.

Dr Lampl and Ms Axelhom have also worked with US band Evanescence for the Australian tour of their album Synthesis, which currently sits at number four on the Billboard 200 charts after topping the list when it was first released late last year.

“This is an amazing coup for Australian music – two musicians from Canberra have been the first artists to work on a number one Classical hit on the Billboard charts. Based on our quick research, this is has never happened in Australian music history,” Dr Lampl said.


Dr Kenneth Lampl
Head of School
ANU School of School of Music
T: + 61 2 3125 1449

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