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Paul Lowin Prizes


2019 Paul Lowin Prizes

Composers Katy Abbott and Nigel Westlake have been announced as winners of the 2019 Paul Lowin Prizes in a ceremony at the Melbourne Recital Centre on the evening of Tuesday 22 October.

Nigel Westlake dedicated his award to the judge
and philanthropist Jane Matthews (1940-2019),
who commissioned the winning work.

Nigel Westlake took home the coveted $25,000 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for his work Spirit of the Wild - Concerto for Oboe (2016), while Katy Abbott's Hidden Thoughts 1 (2017) for six voices and mixed instrumental media won the $15,000 Song Cycle Prize.

Katy Abbott's large-scale work is the first composition in her series of festival pieces for The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble. Commissioned with funds provided by the Australia Council for the Arts, Hidden Thoughts 1 sets to music 'secret thoughts' by anonymous women. This is the first time for this Melbourne-based composer to be shortlisted for the Lowin Prizes.

The jury said about Hidden Thoughts 1,

This uniquely Australian work has an innovative and beautifully nuanced score with the compelling text always shining through. The composer shows an excellent technical understanding for each voice type with voiceless interludes focusing the narrative and establishing a wonderful emotional connection for the listener. [...] an inclusive and interactive work for the audience.

Katy Abbott's son Finnegan accepted the 2019 Lowin
Song Cycle Prize in her absence.

Hidden thoughts is available for listening online as an ABC New Waves podcast.

Nigel Westlake's Spirit of the Wild was written for oboist Diana Doherty and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, commissioned with funds provided by Jane Mathews AO (1940-2019) and Symphony Services International. Westlake has won the Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize previously in 2013.

The 2019 Paul Lowin Jury was impressed with his engaging and idiomatic writing for the oboe, and the rich orchestral texture of the concerto:

…effectively written and beautifully paced, with the oboe line expertly supported by the orchestra and the orchestration. This captivating work was the clear winner for the judges, transporting the listener for the full 20 minutes, transcending technicality and going straight to the heart - a temporal experience.

Spirit of the Wild has been released on CD by ABC Classics and is also widely available for streaming and download, including on Youtube.

Close to 100 original works of music competed for the Paul Lowin Prizes in 2019, with entries reflecting the rich spectrum of artistic expression by composers today. The other finalist composers were Brett Dean and Lachlan Skipworth for the Orchestral Prize, and Elliott Gyger and Luke Styles for the Song Cycle Prize. All finalist works can be said to represent the very best of Australian orchestral and song cycle composition over the past three years - since the awarding of the previous Lowin Prizes in 2016.


2019 Paul Lowin Prizes

Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize ($25,000)

Winner: Nigel WestlakeSpirit of the Wild: Concerto for Oboe (2016)

Highly commended: Brett Dean: Cello Concerto (2018) for cello and orchestra

Highly commended: Lachlan SkipworthSpiritus (2017) for symphony orchestra

Song Cycle Prize ($15,000)

Winner: Katy AbbottHidden Thoughts 1 (2017) for six voices (2 sopranos, alto, tenor, baritone, bass) and mixed instrumental sextet. Text by anonymous contributors.

Highly commended: Elliott GygerThis Kind of Life - a culinary correspondence (2018) for soprano, mezzo-soprano, clarinet, cello, harp, piano. A setting of correspondence between celebrated chef Julia Child and her friend Avis DeVoto.

Highly commended: Luke StylesOn Bunyah (2018) for tenor, string quartet and piano. Settings of 10 poems by Les Murray.

This year, the winning works and composers were announced in conjunction with the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, delivered by Deborah Cheetham AO: Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator, and a leader in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years.

The Paul Lowin Prizes are among Australia’s richest prizes for music composition and a continuing testament to the power of philanthropy in fostering and encouraging new creative works of music. Nominations are accepted from the general public as well as music professionals. Previous recipients of the Paul Lowin Prizes include Lachlan Skipworth, Brett Dean, Nigel Westlake, Elliott Gyger, Mary Finsterer, Andrew Schultz, Rosalind Page, Nigel Butterley, Julian Yu, Georges Lentz, Brenton Broadstock, Martin Wesley-Smith, Michael Smetanin, Raffæle Marcellino, Liza Lim and Andrew Ford.

The Paul Lowin Prizes are managed by Perpetual as Trustee for The Paul Lowin Trust and presented in collaboration with the Australian Music Centre.

> 2019 Paul Lowin Prize guidelines

 


History of the Paul Lowin Prizes

After immigrating to Australia in 1939, Czechoslovakian Paul Lowin worked as a wholesale dealer of cloth and dry goods, establishing the Swedish Handweaving Co. on George Street. Although a successful businessman, his work was never a main preoccupation. Mrs L Krips, a neighbour often visited by Lowin, wrote 'We never found out what he was doing for a living, as nothing seemed to him important enough to talk about if he could talk about music'.

Lowin's passion for music was manifest in the hand-written will found when, shortly after returning to Vienna in 1959, Lowin died of a heart attack. The will outlined his dream of encouraging excellence in music composition and his wish to establish a competition for works by living Australian composers.

It took thirty years for an appropriate scheme to be approved by the Chief Justice of NSW but eventually, in 1990, one of Australia's richest prizes for music composition was established. The competition was initially held every three years, but in 1995 further changes by the court enabled the competition to be held every two or three years.

Since the first prizes in 1991, close to $490,000 has been awarded. Since 1999, the prizes have been presented in collaboration with Perpetual Trustee Company Limited as trustee for The Paul Lowin Trust and the Australian Music Centre.

 


Winners of the Paul Lowin Prizes 1991-2016

> View a chronological list of all winners of the Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize.

> View a list of all winners of the Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize.

 


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Recent Awards

2016 Paul Lowin Prizes

The winners of 2016 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced on 6 December 2016 at APRA AMCOS building in Sydney.

2013 Paul Lowin Prizes

The winners of 2013 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced on 28 October 2013 at APRA headquarters in Sydney.

2009 Paul Lowin Prizes

The winners of the 2009 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced on 30 October 2009 at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House.

2006 Paul Lowin Prizes

The winners of the 2006 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced on October 5 at a special ceremony at The Mint, Sydney.


2004 Paul Lowin Prizes

The 2004 Paul Lowin Prize ceremony was held at Government House, Sydney on 3 November 2004.


2001 Paul Lowin Prizes

The 2001 Paul Lowin Prize ceremony, hosted by Radio National’s Alan Saunders, was held at Customs house, Sydney on 22 October 2001.


1999 Paul Lowin Prizes

The winners of the 1999 Paul Lowin Prizes were announced at the Australian Music Centre Awards, at the Sydney Opera House, on 20 September 1999.