Melbourne-based woodwind artist Tony Hicks has performed across Australia and internationally since the late 1970s. He maintains a dynamic jazz and creative improvisation practice, and works across a range of commercial contexts including TV and recording studios, theatre orchestras, big bands, function bands and productions by small arts organisations.
Between 2000 and 2014 he performed with the Australian Art Orchestra. He was a key player in Crossing Roper Bar, the orchestra’s award winning collaboration with indigenous Wagilak songmen from Ngukurr, Arnhem Land.
In a continuation of investigations into South Indian Carnatic music concepts begun with the Australian Art Orchestra in collaborations with Guru Karakudi R Mani and his Sruthi Laya Ensemble, he traveled to Chennai, India, in 2016 with colleagues Adrian Sherriff and Jonathan Dimond for a collaboration with Mani Sir that was broadcast live to the international audience of Jaya TV.
He is also regularly invited to participate in the Monash Art Ensemble‘s collaborations with various international composers and performers including George Lewis, Django Bates, Vijay Iyer and Barney McAll.
In 2012 he completed a practice-based performance masters degree that focused on free improvisation processes and the development of improvisational facility with extended techniques, microtonality and tone rows on a range of woodwind instruments. The resulting thesis documents the emergence of an abstract improvisation language within the context of a series of duo improvisations with electro-acoustic sound artist David Tolley over an eighteen month period in 2010-2011.
He has worked as a woodwind specialist playing flutes, clarinets and saxophones in orchestras for over one hundred professional musicals including Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and Porgy and Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar, in studio bands for nationally broadcast TV shows such as Dancing With the Stars and Hey Hey It’s Saturday, and performed and recorded with iconic Australian artists including John Farnham, Marina Prior, Anthony Warlow, Tommy Emmanuel, Gurrumul, Paul Grabowski and David Herschfelder.
He has also has performed with internationally recognized jazz and commercial superstars including Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder, Billy Cobham and Randy Brecker.
He was a student of Australian saxophone virtuoso Peter Clinch, a member of the Peter Clinch Saxophone Quartet from 1977 to 1988, and in 1984 reached the national finals of the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition playing Henri Tomasi’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra.
Groups he currently performs and records with include:
space klezmer sensation YID!
Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra
As a creative improviser he collaborates with a range of local artists.
Alturo do Sol with Adrian Sherriff and Kier Stephens explores a fusion of influences from South Indian carnatic music and artists including Egberto Gismonti and Paul Horn.
Recent past projects include:
The Monday Morning series of duo improvisations with percussionist/improviser Carlo Carnevali
A 7 month fortnightly residency of creative multimedia improvisations at the nexus of free serialist improvisation and Ngali, the traditional Iranian theatre form with his ensemble Inside Outside 123
Through a Glass Darkly with Sam McAughliffe and Mark Shepherd
He is a passionate educator, teaching saxophone, flute, clarinet and ensembles at secondary and tertiary level in many schools and universities in Melbourne since the 1980s. He currently works at Macleod College and Melbourne Girls College in Melbourne delivering expert woodwind tuition across all levels and ages, and arranging for and directing a range of ensembles including stage bands, jazz orchestras, small jazz and rock groups, and orchestras for school productions.
He also collaborates regularly with Dr. Gillian Howell to deliver creative music and composition projects for children in urban and regional settings.