Martin Mackerras began his first clarinet lessons at age 11 and then playing in the Queensland Youth Orchestra shortly afterwards. He also began composing and playing in a band called Tangled Shoelaces with his brother and sister (many years later the music from this period was released by Chapter records as a vinyl record called Turn My Dial) Martin attended the Queensland Conservatorium of Music studying clarinet with Floyd Williams and composition with Gerard Brophy. He continued his playing of experimental pop music in bands such as Wondrous Fair and Choo Dikka Dikka with John Rodgers. In 1990 he moved to Melbourne to attend the Victorian College of the Arts studying clarinet wth Philip Michel and Cathy McCorkill. He had private composition lessons with Liza Lim and Chris Dench. In 1994 he won a Fulbright Scholarship to attend The Manhattan School of Music were he studied clarinet with Charles Neidich and attended the composition class of Pierre Charvet.
Upon returning to Melbourne he toured and recorded his own Martin Mackerras Ensemble and was commissioned to write a large scale piano work for Micheal Kieran Harvey. This culminated in the CD recording As all the Heavens were a Bell and The Waves in 2005. He also devoted his time to popular music, playing clarinet wth many artists including Laura Jean, Sally Seltmann, Grand Salvo, Lior, Odette (with producer Damien Taylor who produced Bjork), Jen Cloher and Ross Mclennan’s New World Orchestra. Also contemporary Australian music with Jolt Arts, Melbourne New Music under Roland Peelman and Bucket Rider for the Melbourne Festival. He has also played Klezmer and world music with Spiel Azoi and Adana. His playing has been used in various advertisements, including for baked beans and a Spanish Mobile phone network. Martin formed his own band Maya-dreamer and the Future Happiness Orchestra to explore song writing and experimental pop.This ensemble played many shows and released 3 albums to positive reviews. He also took up a position as clarinet /saxophone teacher and ensemble director at Shelford Girls Grammar.
Martin is currently a Masters in Composition student under Professor Elliott Gyger at the Melbourne Conservatorium and embarking on his first orchestral piece for the MSO. He lives in the Yarra Ranges of Victoria on a mountain side.
As All the Heavens were a Bell and The Waves (2005)
"As always in Martin Mackerras’s music, the evocation of timelessness holds sway. The ocean’s forgotten depths and her shimmering, hopeful horizon are the dimensions of the human soul in its inner eternity, rising and sinking incessantly, the perpetual undulations resolving to the stillness of pure tone, as though the soul were a vibrating string…as though the soul were a lyre…The piano strives to become its entelechy, the lyre of waves. In the beginning was the ocean.
….Martin beholds the world with the untarnished wonder of a child who feels intuitively how in the ocean waves are not accidental transmissions of energy, but essential inner character. In this, ocean waves are like musical tones"
Danaë Killian , writer and pianist
"Mackerras homes in on the extremes , the epiphany , the "total " energy. His clarinet improvisation is a frenzied vault at the physical extremes of the instrument, reaching out to a higher consciousness".
Harriet Cunnigham, Real Time
Love is Your Destiny ( 2011)
"Using a six-piece band plus singers and an orchestra, Mackerras’s hour-plus debut as May Dreamers is reliably airy despite just how much is happening at one time….It’s baroque pop in the mode and scale of Burt Bacharach or Pet Sounds. The layers are as heady as the sentiments are sunny and hopeful (see the album title)".
Doug Wallen, mess+noise
Light of the World (2015) ‘The Orchestral pop recording of the year , a triumph’
Paul Gough, The Inside Sleeve (included in the Inside sleeve 2016 best albums)
Featurng the Choir of Light (March 2023)
“The general feeling of the CD was cosmic conscious, a definite religious vibe in that sense. Not just the wonderfully old sounding organ but I see the influence of classical music and also Phillip Glass and then over the top of all that distinct shifts in scales and tendency to cosmic minimalist romance” Coleen South, Song Writer