Mark Ferguson

Mr Mark Ferguson

Head - Jazz

Elder Conservatorium of Music

Faculty of Arts


Composer/arranger/song-writer/pianist/musical director Mark Simeon Ferguson was born into a musical family in Whyalla and raised in Clare, South Australia. He was a finalist in the National Jazz Awards in 1999 and in the same year he completed a Master of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Adelaide (where he is now Head of Jazz). As a pianist he has performed with artists including Mark Murphy, Rufus Wainwright, Gunhild Carling, Lady Rizo, Ray Vega, Nancye Hayes and Tim Minchin.
Mark’s commissions for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra include ASO Does Latin with the Marmalade Man (a concert of his own latin-jazz works arranged for orchestra), Herman and Rosie (a children’s show based on Gus Gordon’s book of the same name), Gospel Messiah (a revision of Handel’s Messiah) and The Bush Concert (a children’s show based on Helga Visser’s book of the same name). The Bush Concert has been performed by the SSO in the Sydney Opera House, the MYO in the Melbourne Recital Centre, the ASO in the Adelaide Festival Centre and in Harbin, China (after translation into Mandarin). Mark created the song cycles The Moral of the Story (2013) and Next Stop North Terrace (2018) for the SA Public Primary Schools Music Festival. Mark’s world jazz ensemble Marmalade Circus recorded five albums and performed at the Manly and Thredbo Jazz Festivals and the Sydney Festival.
Mark has been musical director/pianist for events including Songs of Hope and Healing (QPAC, 2019), the Walk of Fame Gala (AFC, 2018), the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Closing Gala 2017-18 and shows including UNSUNG (the 2019 Frank Ford Commission for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival), Cake (for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2018) and Euromash (2017) and The Songs That Got Away (2016) for the Melbourne Recital Centre. He has also been musical director/pianist for shows for Camille O’Sullivan, Johanna Allen, Rhonda Burchmore and Rachael Beck.

Mark Ferguson is a jazz-based composer, arranger, song-writer, pianist and musical director. He has special interests in Afro-Caribbean music and orchestral/large ensemble music for children.

Ferguson has performed in latino dance bands since 1999, touring with TNT Latinoz across Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, including a tour as part of Tito Puente Jr’s band. He has led the Elder Conservatorium’s Latin Jazz Ensemble since 2009. In 2018 he was commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) to perform and orchestrate a concert of his own latin-jazz works ASO Does Latin with the Marmalade Man. Mark’s latin-jazz ensemble Marmalade Circus has recorded five albums and performed at the Manly and Thredbo Jazz Festivals and the Sydney Festival.

His first major tours were with children’s entertainer Peter Combe in 1993. Mark then toured Australia and Singapore in his own ensemble Marmalade Jam for Musica Viva in Schools from 2002-2013. Mark’s commissions for ASO Learning include Herman and Rosie (based on Gus Gordon’s book of the same name) and The Bush Concert (based on Helga Visser’s book of the same name). The Bush Concert has been performed by the SSO in the Sydney Opera House, the MYO in the Melbourne Recital Centre, the ASO in the Adelaide Festival Centre and in Harbin, China (after translation into Mandarin). Mark was commissioned to write the song cycles The Moral of the Story (2013) and Next Stop North Terrace (2018) for the SA Public Primary Schools Music Festival, with each work performed by over 6000 children in the Adelaide Festival Centre over 12 concerts.

Currently Mark is Head of Jazz in the Elder Conservatorium. He lectured in Jazz History for 15 years, Jazz Improvisation for 20 years, Jazz Musicianship since 2016, Jazz Piano since 1992, Latin Jazz Ensemble since 2009 and many other subjects. In 2020 he will begin lecturing Jazz Arranging 3. He led the inaugural Jazz Study tour to New York City and Washington DC in February 2020.

 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2016 Lecturer in Jazz Piano University of Adelaide
    2010 - 2019 Director of Youth Superband 1-term 4 JAZZSA
    2003 - 2017 Tutor in Jazz Improvisation Marryatville High School
    2001 - 2015 Casual Lecturer in Jazz History University of Adelaide
    1993 - 2015 Casual Lecturer in Jazz Improvisation University of Adelaide
    1992 - 2015 Casual Lecturer in Jazz Piano University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Award Student-led Teaching Award, Arts Lecturer University of Adelaide Australia $2000
    1999 Achievement Semi-finalist National Jazz Awards 1999 Wangaratta Jazz Festival Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1999 University of Adelaide Aus Master of Music
  • Research Interests

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  • Live Performance of Creative Works

    Year Citation
    2019 Ferguson, M. S. (2019). The Twin Precipice (No. Of Pieces: score of 62 pages, A3 pages, 22mins in length) [Concert work for Studio Orchestra and Improvising Saxophone]. Adelaide.
    2013 Dry, A., & Ferguson, M. (2013). Mother Wife and the Complicated Wife (No. Of Pieces: 2 hours) [Performance]. Adelaide.
    2013 Dry, A., & Ferguson, M. (2013). Mother Wife and the Complicated Wife (No. Of Pieces: 2 hours) [Performance]. Adelaide.
    2002 Ferguson, M. (2002). Performance by Marmalade Circus at the Sydney Festival 2002 (No. Of Pieces: 40 mins) [Performance]. Sydney.
  • Original Creative Works

    Year Citation
    2018 Publication status: Published
    NTRO sub category: 4 Other
    Title: Next Stop: North Terrace—Commissioned work for the South Australian Public Primary School's Festival of Music 2018.
    'When You Look in Their Eyes'
    'The Institute'
    'Niina Waathangku'
    'Cheesegrater'
    Alternative title: Commissioned work for South Australian Public Primary School's Festival of Music 2018.
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Publisher: South Australian Public Primary School's Music Society
    Publisher URL: http://www.festivalofmusic.org.au/
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 31 January 2018
    Pagination: 64 pages
    Extent: 64 pages A3 for full score, 26 A4 pages in published Vocal only edition
    Type of work: Song cycle
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: Research background: ‘Next Stop North Terrace’ is a song cycle for youth orchestra, soloists and a 500-voice choir and was commissioned by the South Australian Public Primary Schools' (SAPPS) Festival of Music (total duration 21 mins).

    Research contribution: Ferguson was commissioned to write a four-part song cycle to inspire children aged 11-13 to engage with the cultural institutions on North Terrace.

    ‘When You Look in Their Eyes’ directs students to look into the eyes of the subject of works in the Art Gallery and imagine their stories. It concludes with a mirrored artwork, encouraging students to reflect on how they would want to be seen if only one image remained of them for all time.

    ‘The Institute’ explores the role of the first Western cultural building in this precinct. Through playful stories, students are invited to see the building as a storehouse of experiences that are still relevant today.

    In ‘Niina Waathangku’, Ferguson seeks to connect colourful and poignant migrant stories sourced from the Migration Museum with First People’s reactions to their arrival. Ferguson spent many hours with Uncle Lewis O’Brien and Uncle Steven Goldsmith exploring these responses. In consultation with the Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi committee, Ferguson wrote the chorus of the song in the Kaurna language, asking “where are you from? where’s your country? who is your family?”

    ‘The Cheesegrater’ was designed to inspire students to consider the importance of medical research in the SAHMRI building through a punkish song.

    Research Significance: The work was commissioned by SAPPS and was performed by a choir including students from 300 schools + a youth orchestra in 12 concerts in the Festival Theatre, plus a series of outer metropolitan and regional concerts. The work was published as part of the Festival Music songbook and recorded by the SAPPS Choir. The work has had an impact on thousands of children, teachers and parents and increased engagement with the precinct.
    Notes: Commissioned work - musical scores
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 7 June 2019

    2017 NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: Herman and Rosie
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 2017
    Extent: Duration 33', Score 192 pages
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘Herman and Rosie’ is a concert work (total duration 33’) for chamber ensemble and voice commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra based on Gus Gordon’s children’s book ‘Herman and Rosie’. The work was presented on Dec 16 2016 and performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in concerts throughout metropolitan Adelaide in April 2017, followed by two performances in the Adelaide Festival Centre in July 2017.

    Research foundation: Gordon’s book is set in New York City and explores themes of loneliness, depression and the power of music to connect people.

    Ferguson researched New York soundscapes, drawing on his own experiences of working in the city for many months, personal recordings of soundscapes recorded by his brother Andrew Ferguson in 2016.
    The characters in the book love jazz, so Ferguson researched the music that would most immediately evoke the sound of ‘jazz’ and created themes and textures accordingly. He chose an instrumentation that would both reflect a jazz ensemble and an orchestra (since the commissioner was the ASO) and researched ways to integrate the two ensembles. The character Herman in the book was an oboe player so Ferguson researched the oboe in jazz and explored techniques that would help and orchestral player to best approximate the sound of jazz on the oboe (a traditionally ‘non-jazz’ instrument).
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 15 December 2017

    2017 Publication status: Unpublished
    NTRO sub category: 4 Other
    Title: Live and Die with the Butterflies
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Publisher: University of Adelaide, Elder Conservatorium
    Publisher URL: https://music.adelaide.edu.au/
    Place of publication: Adelaide, South Australia
    Publication date: 2017
    Pagination: 57 pages
    Extent: Score 57 A3 pages, approximately 18 mins in length
    Type of work: Musical composition - Suite in four movements for Studio Orchestra
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: Research background: Live and Die with the Butterflies is a suite in four movements for Studio Orchestra, symphony orchestra and jazz Big Band (total duration 18 mins). The work was performed by the Elder Conservatorium’s Studio Orchestra in Elder Hall on October 21, 2017 and was conducted by Dr. Luke Dollman.
    Research contribution: This work was inspired by the words of former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce when speaking about his support for the Adani Carmichael coal mine and rail project in April 2017. In response to firm opposition to the project from environmental groups Joyce told Radio National’s Fran Kelly “We’ve got to be realists, if you’re going to live with the butterflies you’re going to die with the butterflies.” Ferguson was disturbed by the attitude of our deputy leader and wrote this work as a protest.
    Early on in the work Ferguson explores textures and melodic material which represent the lightness of the butterflies. Later sections replicate the sounds of earth-moving equipment and darkly evokes the horror of habitat destruction. The work ends on a glimmer of hope that wiser minds might prevail and prevent this environmental catastrophe.
    In the writing process found himself composing Bollywood-esque material so he deliberately studied Indian pop music of the 70’s and 80’s incorporating some of the melodic and rhythmic features of this music from the sub-continent.

    Research Significance: The work was performed by the Elder Conservatorium’s Studio Orchestra in Elder Hall on October 21, 2017 and was conducted by Dr. Luke Dollman. The piece was designed to provide an opportunity for Jazz and Classical music students to work alongside one another and learn
    Description: Suite in four movements for Studio Orchestra
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 7 June 2019

    2017 NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: The Bush Concert Orchestral Version
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Sydney
    Publication date: 2017
    Extent: Score 138 pages, Duration approx. 31'
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘The Bush Concert’ is a concert work (total duration 31’) for chamber ensemble and voice commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, based on Helga Visser’s children’s book ‘The Bush Concert’. The work features newly composed music and songs and includes new orchestrations of ‘La Rejouissance’ by Handel, ‘Einzug der Gladiatoren’ by Fuzik and ‘Orphée aux enfers’ by Offenbach.
    ‘The Bush Concert’ explores themes relevant to our times in an age-appropriate manner; dealing with drought, responding to depression, building connections through engagement in communal activities, and the use of music to build community.

    The characters in ‘The Bush Concert’ are all birds. Ferguson researched and transcribed the relevant bird calls, used them as the core rhythmic, timbral and melodic foundations for the majority of the original themes in the work.
    ‘The Bush Concert’ was commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for its 2015 Learning Program and was performed twice in the Adelaide Festival Centre and many times since. Ferguson re-orchestrated the work for full orchestra for Symphony Services International premiering at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on November 5, 2017. The work was also performed eight times in the Seymour Centre for SSO’s Education program with one concert streamed live as part of ‘Music Count Us In Celebration Day’ to 3000 schools nationally.
    ‘The Bush Concert’ has also recently been translated into Mandarin and will be recorded by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in both English and Mandarin in 2018.
    Notes: Following on from the success of ‘The Bush Concert’ in its original chamber ensemble format, Symphony Services International commissioned Ferguson to orchestrate the work for a full orchestra on behalf of all Australian Orchestras. Research foundation: As with the original version of ‘The Bush Concert’, Ferguson researched and transcribed more of the bird calls of the birds featured in Helga Visser’s book of the same name and used them as the foundation for new themes introduced into the work. With the expanded palette of a full orchestra Ferguson was able to find orchestral instruments whose instrumental colour more accurately matched the quality of the bird’s ‘instrument’. The full orchestral work was premiered in the Sydney Opera House by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on November 5, 2017.
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 15 December 2017

    2015 Publication status: Published
    NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: The Bush Concert
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 30 January 2015
    Extent: 31 minutes duration
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘The Bush Concert’ is a concert work (total duration 31’) for chamber ensemble and voice commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra based on Helga Visser’s children’s book ‘The Bush Concert’. The work was performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in concerts throughout metropolitan Adelaide in May 2015, followed by two performances in the Adelaide Festival Centre in June 2016. The work is predominantly newly composed music, songs and new orchestrations by Ferguson of ‘La Rejouissance’ by Handel, ‘Einzug der Gladiatoren’ by Fuzik and ‘Orphée aux enfers’ by Offenbach.

    Research foundation: Helga Visser’s book explores themes relevant to our times; responding to drought, responding to depression through community building and the power of music to build connections between people.
    All of the characters in Visser’s books are birds, so Ferguson researched the bird calls of the birds featured in the book, transcribed many of these calls and used them as the foundation for the majority of the themes in the work. Ferguson also researched the habits of magpie larks for the song ‘The Misguided Magpie Lark’ (a morality tale about vanity) and migratory birds for ‘The Gum Tree Song’ (which also required research about Australian eucalyptus trees).
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 13 December 2017

    2015 NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: Serendipity
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 15 May 2015
    Extent: Duration 8'
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘Serendipity’ is an interlude (total duration 8’) for concert band and trumpet/flugelhorn soloist. It was commissioned by Pembroke School for performance with the celebrated New York-based trumpet player Ray Vega in Adelaide on May 15, 2015.
    Research foundation: The work was composed as a reflection on the serendipitous meeting between the late New Zealand-born, Adelaide-based saxophonist Mike Stewart and the celebrated New York-based trumpeter Ray Vega. After Stewart’s sudden death at the age of 41 the Adelaide jazz community was in deep shock for many months. Stewart had played a pivotal role in reviving the Adelaide jazz scene in part through his connections with the New York scene, and Vega in a particular.

    The piece extends concert band repertoire adding a contemporary latin jazz work while providing a new solo vehicle for one of the great latin jazz artists of our time.
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 14 December 2017

    2013 NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: Whit Dae Ye Cry Thon Yin
    Alternative title: The Scottish Project
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 14 June 2013
    Extent: Duration 71 minutes
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘Whit Dae Ye Cry Thon Yin’ is a collection of new works, rearranged original works and arrangements of traditional songs by Robert Burns (total duration 71’) for chamber ensemble and three voices. It was the Nexus World Music Series Commission for 2013. It was performed by Ferguson on piano and voice, recently returned world-music specialist Julian Ferraretto on violin and mandolin, Jarrad Payne on drums, ARIA award-winning bassist Lyndon Gray and Ferguson’s wife and children. Many of the pieces within the work have since been re-arranged by Ferguson for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz SA Superbands, and the Elder Conservatorium Latin Ensemble.

    The commission brief was to write music outside of the artist’s typical genre. Ferguson researched his paternal grandfather’s Scottish/English history; the experiences of overcoming poverty in late 1800’s England and migration to Australia in the early 20th Century which he presented through song and wordless music. He researched the structures and ornamentation of Scottish music in particular, and brought many of these techniques into the works. He also explored performance practices of Celtic folk music and brought his own family in as a continuation of these traditions
    The works:
    ‘Fosgladair Toilichte’ (duration 6’), ‘The Dance’ (duration 7’), ‘The Air’ (duration 4’), ‘Reel 1 —Thomas Ferguson’ (duration 5’), ‘A Man’s A Man for A’ That’ (duration 4’) [Burns-arranged Ferguson), ‘My Little Jiggy Girl’ (duration 5’), ‘Grandpop’s Song’ (duration 4’), Comin’ Through the Rye’ (duration 5’) [Burns-arranged Ferguson], ‘Dulcius Exasaperus —Sweeter After Difficulty’ (duration 5’), ‘Harriet Haynes suite’ (duration 12’), ‘The Chanty Wrassler’ (duration 4’), ‘If I Could’ (duration 4’), ‘Wiggy Jig’ (duration 6’).
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 14 December 2017

    2013 Publication status: Published
    NTRO sub category: 3 Written work
    Title: The Moral of the Story
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Author affiliation: A1066027
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: 24 January 2013
    Extent: 30 pages in the Festival of Music songbook 2013, A4 sized, duration approx. 16 mins
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: ‘The Moral of the Story’ is a 4-part song cycle (total duration 16’) for medium-sized orchestra, vocal soloists and a 500-voice choir and was commissioned by the South Australian Public Primary Schools' Music Festival of Music. The work was performed by the Festival Choir (which includes students from 300 schools) and the Festival Orchestra in twelve concerts in the Adelaide Festival Theatre in September 2013 followed by a series of outer metropolitan Adelaide and regional SA concerts as part of the South Australian Primary Schools Festival of Music 2013. The song-cycle was published as part of the Festival of Music song-book; the song-cycle was recorded by the South Australian Primary Schools Choir.

    Research background: With this work Ferguson was asked to find ‘moral stories’ from four of the most popular religions in South Australia and write songs for children aged 11-13 which shared the message of these timeless morals in an engaging manner. The final song in the song cycle was the commissioner’s foundation for the project and was based on the Christian parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’. The challenge in research was to find stories somewhat like ‘The Good Samaritan’ in Buddhist, Islamic, and Indigenous cultural/religious traditions but as Ferguson learned, the teachings of the chosen three other religions did not always provide simple, ‘bite-sized’ morals that would translate into three-minute pop songs. The work was completed by the inclusion of the following stories: ‘Thukeri’, based on the Ngarrindjeri story which explores the consequences of not sharing; ‘The Emperor and the Seed’, a popular story endorsed by many in the Islamic community which explores the importance of honesty; and ‘The Prancing Peacock’, a story popular in the Buddhist community about the consequences of vanity.
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 13 December 2017

    2007 Publication status: Published
    NTRO sub category: 4 Other
    Title: Gospel Messiah
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Place of publication: Adelaide, South Australia
    Publication date: 2007
    Journal: Adelaide Festival Theatre
    Extent: 95 minutes
    Description: Composition for Vocal Soloists, SSATB
Chorus, multi-instrumentalist and Symphony Orchestra. Commissioned and performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Benjamin Northey. Soloists: James Morrison (trumpet/multi-instrumentalist), Doug Parkinson (baritone), Paulini (mezzo-soprano), Trace Canini (contralto). Extent : 95 minutes.
    Language: en
    Notes: Migrated record 20140814
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 14 August 2014
  • Recorded/Rendered Creative Works

    Year Citation
    2009 NTRO sub category: 1 Audio/Visual Recording
    Title: Marmalade Circus CD, Yup and Other Words of Affirmation, 2009.
    Alternative title: Yup and Other Words of Affirmation
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: September 2009
    Extent: 48 Mins
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: .
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 6 June 2016
    1999 NTRO sub category: 1 Audio/Visual Recording
    Title: Mark Ferguson's Marmalade Trio
    Alternative title: Marmalade Trio
    Authors: Ferguson M
    Place of publication: Adelaide
    Publication date: September 1999
    Extent: 43 mins
    ERA Research Statement - 2000 character limit: .
    Abstract: Recording of original compositions and new arrangements of jazz and pop tunes for Jazz piano trio. Features Mark Simeon Ferguson-piano/composer/arranger, Shireen Khemlani-electric bass and John McDermott-drums
    Verification-status: Verified
    Record created at source: 6 June 2016
  • Curated or Produced Public Exhibition or Events

    Year Citation
    2018 Ferguson, M. (2018). ASO does Latin With the Marmalade Man. (No. Of Pieces: Score: 273 Pages A3) [Concert work]. Adelaide, South Australia: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
    2018 Ferguson, M. (2018). Adelaide Festival Centre's International Jazz Day Concert 2018 (No. Of Pieces: 1 hour of a 2 hour concert) [Curated concert, arrangements and original composition]. Adelaide, South Australia: Adelaide Festival Centre.
Course Title Institution Course Level/ Code
Jazz History The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 1010
Jazz Performance 1A / 1B The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 1001 / 1002
Jazz Performance 2A / 2B The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 2001 / 2002
Jazz Performance 3A / 3B The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 3001 / 3002
Jazz Musicianship 1A / 1B The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 1101 / 1102
Jazz Musicianship 2A / 2B The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 2101 / 2102
Jazz Musicianship 3 The University of Adelaide MUSJAZZ 3101
Jazz Arranging The University of Adelaide MUSGEN 3007
Music Professional Development 1A / 1B The University of Adelaide MUSGEN 1201 / 1202
Music Professional Development 2A / 2B The University of Adelaide MUSGEN 2201 / 2202
Music Professional Development 3A / 3B The University of Adelaide MUSGEN 3201 / 3202
  • Position: Head - Jazz
  • Phone: 83133828
  • Email: mark.ferguson@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Madley, floor MB
  • Room: MB 18
  • Org Unit: Elder Conservatorium of Music

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