Pavle Cajic – 2014

Following my Bachelors degree in music (2017), I wanted to pursue graduate studies in composition. In 2017, I was awarded a BBM Youth Award which was a scholarship to travel to the UK and Europe to learn with composition and piano teachers and to apply for graduate composition studies. This trip was very immersive and enlightening, but unfortunately at that time I only applied to a small number of places and I was either not admitted or admitted with inadequate funding. Furthermore, I felt that the compositional philosophies in the places I visited applied a certain pressure to do something ‘new’ that wasn’t fully aligned with the reasons I enjoyed writing music. Following this I decided to pursue my compositional interests and ambitions as a freelancer in Sydney and build connections with people and groups I was already beginning to get involved with.

I collaborated with flutist Chloe Chung and oboist Ennes Mehmedbasic to form the ‘Sidere’ duo and trio. In these groups, I performed a number of concerts throughout Sydney where we explored novel curation ideas combining classical repertoire, our original compositions and arrangements, and improvisations.

I continued collaborating with violinist Ole Bohn (professor at the Sydney Con), a partnership that began when he premiered my orchestral work ‘Winter, Heartache and Transfiguration’ as violin soloist in 2018. The highlight of this collaboration was when Ole invited me to Oslo in late 2019/early 2020 to perform a violin recital featuring my new piece ‘Extinction & Rebellion’ amongst others, and also commissioned an Octet to be played in Oslo.

Meanwhile, in 2020 I was part of the formation of the Dreambox Collective, which was founded by Chloe Chung (from ‘Sidere’). This is a collective of musicians and visual artists based in Sydney, which I have been part of since its inception. Since 2020, we have put on three concerts a year, each engaging with a different social justice issue or area of focus that was important to members of the collective or that we wanted to learn about. For each concert, we created or curated works that responded to or reflected the area of focus. Each concert would partner with an independent organisation that worked in the given area, and part of the concert would be devoted to a presentation by the organisation about the work they do and their experiences. The concerts I have been directly involved in thus far were themed on pollution in waterways, raising awareness of neurodiversity, the importance of education, and climate change. In each case, I wrote and performed a work that engaged with the theme. For all other concerts, I helped out in organisational roles.

In a similar vein, I have been involved with the Sydney-based musical charity choir and orchestra Voces Caelestium since 2013. The aim of these concerts is also to raise awareness about different issues and donate proceedings to charities that focus on those issues, but here the focus is more on global poverty and human rights, and the partner organisations have tended to be large charities. These concerts have brought together a large community of volunteer amateur, pre-professional and professional musicians, and we’ve used our platform to give space to new music via calls for scores, as a result of which we’ve premiered two beautiful choir pieces, and of course the many composition premieres by myself that I’ve conducted.

On another train of activity, starting in 2019 I wanted to simultaneously pursue my deep passion for physics by completing my Bachelor of Science. This is a passion I was already pursuing in my music degree by taking electives from physics and mathematics at the University of Sydney. I completed my science degree part-time while continuing my artistic collaborations and developments.

Recently I decided to reawaken my dormant yearnings to pursue compositional studies overseas and have just handed in a number of applications to music schools in the US, where I see a diversity of music-making and openness of expression that appeals to me. I will be waiting for the results with bated breath!

Here is a project from the last few years that I’m particularly proud of: a recording of my piece ‘Gateway to Paradise’, for traditional Chinese instruments dizi, pipa, and string quartet:

Other works can be found on my website,

Thank you to Theme and Variations for supporting me in 2014 and being part of my musical journey and development, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share what I’ve been up to. Your work is important to young pianists, even if they pursue paths not purely based on piano, as I have. I wish you and your supporters all the best for the upcoming festive season!

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