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The Sue W Composition Prize

The Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize

COVID-19 Special Commissions
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music offers an annual composition prize to support a female composer in their career aspirations.

Amidst the restrictions 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 Quartet for the End of Time (1941). Today it is the COVID-19 restrictions upon our freedoms that move us to reflect on how we might respond.

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. The Australian Music Centre have also been working hard recently to provide income for their composers through new schemes generically called MOMENTUM.

This year, both institutions are working together to offer three commissions of $3200 to compose and broadcast new works online. The awards this year are conditioned by restrictions of operating in the COVID-19 pandemic environment.

The Competition

Proposals are invited from those who identify as women to compose 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 are to be used.

The proposed new composition should consider the feasibility of getting a group together to rehearse and perform the new work under COVID-19 prevailing 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 also include an explanation of how the proposer’s idea for the new work came about and what it might contain, in not 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 on-line 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 $3200. Half of an award is paid at the commission date and the rest upon receipt of the video of its performance.

How to apply

Please complete the online Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize application form.

Further conditions of entry are found on the Australian Music Centre website.

Important dates

3pm AEDT, 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 organize a video recording of the performance of the new work, and also to be available for interview over Zoom.

The winners will compose the new works for the COVID-19 Special on-line concert, to be announced by 1 November 2020.

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

Further information

For assistance with submitting your application or other questions, please contact:
Associate Professor Richard Willgoss
Member AMC, Alumni of Sydney Conservatorium of Music