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The MOMENTUM Commissions

In 2020 has announced three MOMENTUM commissions. Expressions of Interest for these opportunities have now closed..

MOMENTUM III - Sue W COVID-19 Special Commissions

This opportunity for female composers is a new partnership between the Australian Music Centre and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, generously sponsored by Mrs Sue Willgoss and Associate Professor Richard Willgoss. Winners of three commissions will be announced by 1 November 2020.

The first MOMENTUM Commission and the Call for Expression of Interest were announced in July 2020, generously funded by a leading Australian composer. Read more about the winner of this inaugural commission on the MOMENTUM I subpage.

MOMENTUM II for early-career artists was funded by Cinque Artist Management - the amount includes a $4,000 commission fee, and $1,000 as a contribution to the performance/realisation of the work. The announcement regarding the winner will be made in late October. See the MOMENTUM II subpage for updates.

COVID-19 Special Commissions

Applications for MOMENTUM III - Sue W COVID-19 Special Commissions have now closed. The winners will be announced by 1 November.

A partnership between the Australian Music Centre and Sydney Conservatorium of Music, generously sponsored by Mrs Sue Willgoss and Associate Professor Richard Willgoss.

In the midst of the restrictiveness of a WW2 prison camp, a composer responded by writing a work that he and three other inmates could play together on instruments that just happened to be available. They made music nonetheless and astounded the other admiring inmates with such uplifting action. The composer was Olivier Messiaen and the work was called Quartet for the End of Time (1941). Today it is now COVID-19 restrictions upon our freedoms that move us to reflect on how we might respond.

The Australian Music Centre has been working hard recently to provide income for composers through new schemes generically called MOMENTUM. Also, as part of the initiative to support female composers in their career aspirations, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney normally offers an annual Sue W composition prize. The prize is sponsored by Mrs Sue Willgoss and Associate Professor Richard Willgoss who support creative art music composition in Australia.

This year, both institutions are working together to offer composition prizes valued up to $10,000 in the form of three commissions of $3,200 each to compose and broadcast new works online. The awards this year are conditioned by restrictions of operating in the COVID-19 pandemic environment. Deliberations will be conducted almost entirely online.

The Competition

Proposals are invited for composing a new work of duration five to six minutes with a reflection upon the COVID-19 pandemic. The work must be for a group of between two and eight players and for non-wind musical instruments; for the purposes of this Competition, voice is a wind instrument and not to be used. The commissions are for acoustic works only. No electronics, amplification or non-acoustic sound alteration is to be used.

The composition needs to reflect the feasibility of getting the group together to rehearse and perform the new work under COVID-19 safe conditions. We thereby invite submission of one work by composers that best reflects their achievements and ability to compose chamber music for a small group of instruments. It should be a pre-existing piece that has been composed and performed within the last five years. It should indicate the ability to write for such a grouping as they propose.

The proposal must include an outline of the project, including explanation about how the idea for the new work came about and what it might contain, in no more than 200 words.

The winners of the commissions will compose the music, get it performed and make a video of the performance. That video will then become part of an online concert presentation in which all three winners will be briefly interviewed alongside the videos of their performed new works.  

Value of the Award

Each of the three commissions will be to the value of $3,200. Half of an award is paid at the commission date and the rest upon receipt of the video of the performance.

Selection process

Applicants for these commissions must identify as women and be Australian citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must submit one composition (or movement of a composition) for consideration with its accompanying score for the judges to review, and a maximum of 200 words outlining the proposed new work. The sound recording must not exceed six minutes in length.

If the judging panel is of the opinion that the works submitted do not indicate sufficient merit to warrant commissions being offered to applicants, the University of Sydney and AMC may refrain from making some or all of the awards.

Permanent staff members of the University of Sydney and of AMC, including close relatives, are not eligible to apply for this competition. The Judging Panel’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of the judging process or result. The competition is offered according to the laws of New South Wales.

How to apply

Please complete the online application form.

Applicants must supply, as part of their submission:

• A score in PDF format with matching audio recording in MP3 format of a recently composed work (within the last 5 years)¬†that best illustrates possible writing for the proposed choice of chamber group. The audio submission must not exceed six minutes in length.

• A document of not more than 200 words proposing and then explaining the relevance and attractiveness of their proposed composition.

Important notes

The proposed new work must not have been publically performed previously, whether for differing groups of instruments, or as some form of arrangement.

Only one proposal from each entrant will be accepted.

The closing date for proposals is 3pm AEDT on Friday 9 October 2020. No late entries will be accepted.

If commissioned, the work must be completed, performed on video and submitted to the organizers all by 28 February 2021. It is the responsibility of the composer to organise a video recording of the performance of the new work, and also to be available for interview over Zoom.


The judging panel will comprise of four members. The panel’s decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of the judging process or result.

The judging panel reserves the right to ask for proof of Australian citizenship or residency from applicants.


The winners of being commissioned to compose the new works for the COVID-19 special online concert will be announced by 1 November 2020.

The final video produced for online delivery will contain performances of all three commissioned works plus interviews with each composer about their works. It is scheduled to be available by May 2021.

Further information

For assistance with submitting your application or other questions, please contact:

Associate Professor Richard Willgoss
Member of the AMC, Alumni of Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Email r.willgoss@unswalumni.com



Earlier Commissions