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31 October 2009

2009 Paul Lowin Awards Prizewinners Announced!

Sydney // NSW // 30.10.2009

Mary Finsterer Image: Mary Finsterer  

Many congratulations go to Mary Finsterer and Andrew Schultz, the winners of the 2009 Paul Lowin Prizes!

The judges voted Mary Finsterer the winner of the $25,000 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for her work In Praise of Darkness, while Andrew Schultz won the $15,000 Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize for his work To the evening star.

Composers Carl Vine and Julian Yu were Highly Commended in the Orchestral category and Nigel Butterley and David Chisholm were Highly Commended in the Song Cycle category.

The prestigious Paul Lowin Prizes are some of Australia's richest prizes for music composition, and have an interesting history. After migrating to Australia in 1939, Czechoslovakian Paul Lowin worked as a wholesale dealer in cloth and dry goods. He died in 1959 leaving a handwritten will outlining his dream of encouraging excellence in music, and his wish to establish a competition for works by living composers. The Paul Lowin Prizes now reward the pinnacle of achievement in Australian composition and are presented by Perpetual Limited and the Australian Music Centre, under the patronage of Mr Kenneth W Tribe, Companion Order of Australia (AC).

The list of previous recipients includes composers Brett Dean, Rosalind Page, Liza Lim, Andrew Ford, Nigel Butterley, Raffaele Marcellino and Michael Smetanin.

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 | Schönberg Ensemble.

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 .... '.

More details about the prizes and earlier prizewinners is available on the AMC website.

Further Links

Paul Lowin prizes - AMC
Mary Finsterer - AMC
Christina Leonard in conversation with Mary Finsterer - Resonate feature
Andrew Schultz - AMC
Andrew Schultz - artist website
Andrew Schultz on creativity and crisis - Resonate feature
ASKO | Schönberg Ensemble - website

The Australian Music Centre connects people around the world to Australian composers and sound artists. By facilitating the performance, awareness and appreciation of music by these creative artists, it aims to increase their profile and the sustainability of their art form. Established in 1974, the AMC is now the leading provider of information, resources, materials and products relating to Australian new music.


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