Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Music Centre were delighted to receive the commissions from the three MOMENTUM III - Sue W COVID-19 Special Commissions composers, generously sponsored by Mrs Sue Willgoss and Associate Professor Richard Willgoss. The three composers who received a $3,200 commission were Anne Cawrse, Nicole Murphy and Elizabeth Younan. The commission enabled these artists to compose a new musical work, and have it performed and recorded on video for an online concert presentation.
MOMENTUM III Sue W Covid-19 Special Commissions
The judging process was challenging due to many high-quality proposals received by the deadline, but ultimately the three artists emerged as clear winners due to the strength of their applications and their original vision for the commissions. The panel consisted of Matthew Hindson, Paul Mason, Natalie Williams, and Narelle Yeo, chaired by Richard Willgoss.
South Australian composer Anne Cawrse's new work, Grounded, for cello and guitar, was written for performance by Sharon and Slava Grigoryan. The work is a celebration of rediscovering simplicity and home in the time of COVID-19. 'Infused with joy and a lightness of spirit, it celebrates the rediscovering of ourselves and the things we hold most precious', Cawrse described her project.
Brisbane-based Nicole Murphy's commission took the shape of a 5-6-minute work for piano duo, inspired by Zadie Smith's essay collection, Intimations. Smith's essays present fragmented glimpses into life during the pandemic. 'The writing moves swiftly between settings, observations and opinions, never quite settling with any certainty. These swift changes that present both moments of optimism and pessimism reflect the uncertainty and fluidity of current times', Murphy said. Both practical and artistic reasons informed the choice of instrumentation - artistically, the two pianos represent the plurality of ideas in Smith's essays.
An Australian composer of Lebanese heritage, and graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium's Composing Women program, Elizabeth Younan, wrote a duo for violinist Anna Da Silva Chen and pianist Vatche Jambazian, also both graduates of the University of Sydney. Inspired by Kahlil Gibran's 'On Joy and Sorrow' from his seminal 1923 book, The Prophet, the work brought a voice to the composer's own reflections during the COVID-19 era, and shone a light on Australians' shared multiculturalism.
Deputy Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium, Professor Matthew Hindson AM, praised the generosity of the donors of this prize, as well as the quality of the resulting commissions. "Mrs Sue and Assoc. Prof. Richard Willgoss have made a tangible contribution to Australian music through the donation of this commission prize. The works created by Anne, Elizabeth and Nicole are each outstanding, but more than that, are reflective of the year just past. They will become important markers of Australian music into the future."