Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Ann Ghandar was initially self-taught and started to play tunes on the piano at the very early age of two. At the age of 12 she wrote theatre music for a number of Shakespeare plays which were performed at school and recorded on LP. Later she studied piano with Lance Dossor and Larry Sitsky, and studied composition with Richard Meale and then Jonathan Harvey in the UK. Her music has been performed and broadcasted in the United States, England, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, other South East Asian countries, Egypt, and, of course, in Australia.
Throughout the span of Ann Ghandar’s career as a composer her works varied in different stages and covered a wide range of sound colours and structures. Her earlier works are characterised by tonal harmony, and very rhythmic music such as her music for Shakespeare plays (1956), and Three Songs for South Australian Girls(1959).
In the 1960s and 1970s her music reflected very much the new sounds and freedom of the 20th century as in her Sonata for Flute and Piano (1973), Haloes for piano quartet (1975), and Music for the Prince for brass band (1982).
In the 1980s and 1990s she travelled in Egypt and explored Middle Eastern music, with its 360 Maqams or scales, which gave her music of this period greater dimensions and depth. She achieved greater clarity and simplicity in many aspects of her music, consistent patterns of pitch and rhythm, as well as imaginative colour. This is illustrated in her Mysterious Echoes, for violin and harpsichord, which was performed in Sydney in 1998.
Ann Ghandar is also a leading Australian music educator. In 1974 she joined Professor Gordon Anderson and Associate Professor Cecil Hill at the University of New England and established the Music Department there. She pioneered the introduction of the first Composition courses in Australia that were open to all music students, aiming to transform non-composing musicians into fully literate musicians. She has been a visiting professor of composition in the Cairo Conservatorium, and lectured at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC), and Northridge University in the United States.
As a performer, Ann Ghandar is an outstanding international concert pianist. She gave the first Australian performances of Messiaen’sFour Rhythmic Studies and lves’ Concord Sonata, and First Sonata, and has performed in America, the United Kingdom and in other countries.
In April 2000 the Vice-Chancellor of UNE launched a CD published by Tall Poppies Records titled Ann Ghandar Piano Music, which contains some of her latest works for the piano. Also, in February this year, the ABC Classic FM commissioned her to write a chamber music composition, which was performed in two live broadcasts from Tamworth and Armidale, on 2nd and 3rd August 2002.