Image by Louise Kennerly. Copyright Fairfax Media.
Hilary Geddes is a guitarist, improviser and composer based in Eora/Sydney on Gadigal Land. She is the 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellow, a 2021 ABC Jazz Scholarship, and the 2019 recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award. Hilary is the bandleader of the Hilary Geddes Quartet, and released her debut album 'Parkside' (ABC Jazz) with the band in 2021.
Hilary works as an in-demand guitarist in the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes, performing alongside jazz luminaries such as Mike Nock, Lakecia Benjamin (USA) and Jonathan Zwartz. She holds the guitar chair in the large ensemble Pharos, is a member of Ellen Kirkwood's Underwards, and Jeremy Rose's Earshift Orchestra for the project 'Disruption! The Voice of Drums', which won an APRA Art Music Award in 2022.
As a sound composer, Hilary was awarded the Tura Adapts: 2020 No Borders Commission for the multi-media work 'Upstream, Down River'. Hilary was also a recipient of the Woollahra Municipal Council’s 2018/2019 Community and Cultural Grants Program, through which she was able to launch her soundmapping project SCAPES with a series of pop-up improvisations throughout the Woollahra precinct in March. These performances were recorded and will be released in the coming months.
Hilary also works in rock and contemporary music scenes, having performed with Tim Minchin in his album livestream in 2020. She is the lead guitarist in the garage-band, The Buoys (Spunk Records), whose song 'Lie to Me Again' was voted number 85 in the 2021 triple j Hottest 100. Over the past year they have performed at the Opera House as part of VIVID Festival, Splendour in the Grass, and have supported bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Wolfmother, Hoodoo Gurus and the Dandy Warhols.
In 2018, Hilary graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with First Class Honours, studying under renowned guitarists Carl Dewhurst, James Muller and Steve Brien. She also spent a year living in Germany, studying with esteemed guitarist, Andreas Wahl at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen during 2016 and 2017. After a competitive selective process, Hilary took part in the Australian Art Orchestra Creative Music Intensive in 2018, working and performing with artists such as Il Dong Bae, Daniel and David Wilfred and Sunny Kim.
Hilary is passionate about shared learning, collaboration and exploring different processes for improvisation. Over the past three years, her practice has centred around the possibilities of site-specific improvisation, soundmapping, and the role of place to inform listening/performance. On these aspects of her practice, Hilary received guidance from Vanessa Tomlinson, Cat Hope and Andrea Keller as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s and Sydney Improvised Music Association’s 2020 mentorship programmes.
“Geddes shone as both player and composer, guiding the band from ebullient odd-metered themes to more exploratory exchanges where the band members engaged in freewheeling musical conversations.” — Jessica Nicholas, The Age 2022
“Geddes does not shy away from using the guitar as a compositional tool, leaning into the idiosyncrasies of her instrument and exploiting its strengths… Rarely do we hear such a clear artistic concept from a musician’s first solo release.” — Stephen Hornby, Australian Jazz 2022
"...amidst the creak of a double bass and the rush of brushed cymbals and Geddes comes alive. Her dizzying, inventive guitar parts leave jaws on the jazz-club floor." — David James Young, Junkee 2021