Paul Lowin Prizes 2009
The winners of the 2009 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced on 30 October 2009 at a special ceremony at The Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House.
Mary Finsterer’s In Praise of Darkness is inspired by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, in particular his reflections on his own state of blindness: at a time when he was beginning to receive critical acclaim as a writer and received the prestigious position as Director of the Buenos Aires Library, Jorge Luis Borges was encumbered by almost complete blindness.
The Jury's remarks about Finsterer's In Praise of Darkness '... in this strong, imaginative and original work, we hear a unique voice. The composer uses the orchestra individually and inspirationally, demonstrating a creative use of orchestral colour. The orchestration is subtle, with striking textures and gestures…'
Finsterer's work was premiered by the ASKO | Schonberg Ensemble at Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, in April 2009.
Andrew Schultz’s says of his work To the evening star, 'The subject of this song cycle is obvious from my choice of diverse but very personal texts that reflect on the creative inner life. The poems move from deep longing in the first song, through whimsy and humour in the second and fourth songs, to deep fear and regret in the third song, and, finally, to a mix of wonder at the world’s beauty and an acceptance of time passing in the final song. It is the final song that sets a text by William Blake which provides the title of the work.'
The Jury unanimously agreed that Schultz’s work was deserving of the prize: '... a modest work written for voice and piano, it does not try to impress or to push boundaries. This composition demonstrates a mastery of technique and form in consistently good writing. The composer knows how to make five simple songs into a well-timed, natural and sometimes surprising musical statement, and combines creativity and craft to produce a work of sincerity and musicality .... '.
To the evening star was premiered by Margaret Schindler and Stephen Emmerson at the Bangalow Music Festival in August 2009.
Winners and highly commended works
Orchestral Winner ($25,000)
Mary Finsterer for In Praise of Darkness for orchestra with concertante for celesta and harp.
Orchestral Highly Commended
Carl Vine for Symphony No. 7 Scenes from daily life for orchestra
Julian Yu for Sinfonia Chaconnissima for orchestra
Song Cycle Winner ($15,000)
Andrew Schultz for To the evening star for soprano and piano.
Song Cycle Highly Commended
Nigel Butterley for Orphei Mysteria for soprano, mezzo-soprano and ensemble.
David Chisholm for The beginning and the end of the snow, an epic song cycle for soprano and boutique orchestra.
The judging panels found that the overall standard of works for 2009 was extremely high. Long and ambitious pieces for large instrumental ensembles contrasted with works for smaller forces in an impressive array of current Australian composition. One panellist described a work as being 'a breath of fresh air, unpretentious and without artifice...'