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Paul Lowin Prizes

6 December 2016. The winning composers and works of the 2016 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize and the Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize have been announced in Sydney on Tuesday evening.

A first-time Lowin finalist, the Western Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth took home the $25,000 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for his Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2014). Fellow finalists James Ledger and Cathy Milliken received a special commendation and the sum of $400 each.

Brett Dean was announced as the winner of the $15,000 Song Cycle Prize for his String Quartet No. 2 ‘And once I played Ophelia’ (2013) for soprano and string quartet. The two commended finalists ($400) in this category were Andrew Ford and Andrew Schultz.

Lachlan Skipworth (b. 1982) is one of several strong composers to emerge from Western Australia in recent years. After training initially as a clarinettist, Skipworth spent three years in Japan immersed in the study of the shakuhachi. On returning to Australia, he continued to develop and refine his original compositional language. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Western Australia, where he studied with Roger Smalley, and a Master of Music (Composition) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he studied with Anne Boyd. The performance of his Lowin-winning work by clarinettist Ashley William Smith and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra won the Performance of the Year category in the 2015 Art Music Awards.

The Lowin Prize jury said of Skipworth’s Concerto: Highly accomplished, evocative work with virtuosic writing for the clarinet... An idiosyncratic work with the very individual voice of the composer coming through.

Brett Dean (b. 1961) is a leading Australian composer of his generation, with major works commissioned and performed by numerous international orchestras. His many awards include the coveted international Grawemeyer Award (2009), Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize (2006) and Song Cycle Prize (2001), and many Art Music Awards and Classical Music Awards, among others.

Dean studied in Brisbane before moving to Germany in 1984 where he was a permanent member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, as a violist, for over 15 years. Dean began composing in 1988, initially working on film, radio and improvisatory projects. Today he is also known as a conductor and champion of his fellow composers’ work.

The Lowin Prize jury said of Dean’s winning work: This intensely dramatic work was a standout for the judges... A compelling and exciting work, it pins the listener to the wall from the outset with its extraordinary high tessitura, virtuosic vocal line and demanding string writing.

The 2016 Paul Lowin Prizes attracted the largest number of entries in the competition’s history, with 67 entries for the Orchestral category, and 59 for the Song Cycle category. Previous winners include Nigel Westlake, Elliott Gyger, Mary Finsterer, Andrew Schultz, Brett Dean, Rosalind Page, Nigel Butterley, Julian Yu, Georges Lentz, Brenton Broadstock, Martin Wesley-Smith, Michael Smetanin, Raffæle Marcellino, Liza Lim and Andrew Ford.

Jury members in 2016 were Liz Terracini (Chair), Clive Birch, Jessica Cottis, Rowena Cowley, Elliott Gyger, Graeme Jennings, Glenda Keam, Merlyn Quaife and Ronald Vermeulen.

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

2016 Paul Lowin Prizes

Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize ($25,000)

Winner: Lachlan Skipworth: Concerto for clarinet and orchestra
Highly commended: James Ledger: Golden years; Cathy Milliken: Earth Plays I-IV

Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize ($15,000)

Winner: Brett Dean: String Quartet No. 2 ‘And once I played Ophelia’ for soprano and string quartet
Highly commended: Andrew Ford: Last Words; Andrew Schultz: Paradise


2016 Paul Lowin Prizes 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, over $440,000 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.



Recent Awards

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.