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13 December 2023

Aristea Mellos receives the 2023 Albert H. Maggs Award

Aristea Mellos Image: Aristea Mellos  

Aristea Mellos has been named as the recipient of the 2023 Albert H. Maggs Award, presented by the University of Melbourne, for her solo piano work, Preludes, Book I.

The suite consists of twelve preludes composed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with each prelude acting as a musical diary entry, documenting the composer's thoughts and emotions during a turbulent time.

The Award panel commented on the work:

"Aristea Mellos' Preludes, Book I constitutes a substantial and distinctive addition to the Australian solo piano repertoire. The twelve preludes combine autobiographical inspirations with a sophisticated and flexible musical vocabulary, engaging in affectionate dialogue with pianistic tradition. The whole is an elegantly balanced cycle from an important emerging voice."

On receiving the award, Aristea said, "I was very pleasantly surprised to receive an email informing me that I have been awarded the 2023 Albert H. Maggs Composition Award for my book of 12 Preludes for solo piano. The award's first recipient in 1967 was the late great Nigel Butterley, who I was fortunate to study under for one semester as an undergraduate composition student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. At the time, I was working on completing a very green work for piano and chamber orchestra - a concertino that (thankfully) has never seen the light of day. I fondly remember Nigel's patience with me as I went through the seven stages of creation: procrastination, "the false start", the "new idea", self-doubt, the "reattempt", the "purge", and finally, the existential conundrum of finding an "interesting" title. Throughout the process, Nigel was an encouraging and supportive sage, and so, it feels fitting that my Preludes, a far more mature work that celebrates the kaleidoscopic expressive potential of the marvellous 88 keyed piano, should be the recipient of this award."

When asked about what she hopes to create with the awarded commission, she said, "I am looking forward to using the award to devote more time to composition in 2024. In particular, I'm looking forward to composing a new cello and piano sonata for the wonderful pianist Stephanie McCallum and the principal cellist of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Timo-Veikko 'Tipi' Valve. For many years, Stephanie has been a champion of my work and of the works of many Australian composers, and I feel very fortunate to have her as a collaborative partner. I am very grateful for this opportunity, and truly honoured to join the roll call of past recipients."

See all previous recipients of the Albert H. Maggs Award.

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