Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh has won the first ever Monash International Women’s Day Composition Commission Prize, Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has announced. The Taiwanese/Australian composer, currently based in the USA, takes home $10,000 in the first year of the annual prize, and will write a new work for percussionist Louise Devenish and the Monash Sinfonia, which will premiere on International Women’s Day in March 2021.

Annie HsiehAnnie Hui-Hsin Hsieh

“It is very humbling!” Hsieh tells Limelight. “Winning this award means more than a line on the CV or the opportunities it brings now and perhaps even further down the road.”

“For me, it is a great honour to be acknowledged at this point in my career, to be given a privileged platform for expression,” she says. “But, more importantly, it also brings an opportunity for me to actively participate in the conversation in improving the gender balance in our field, contributing as a musician and educator towards building an inclusive musicking environment.”

“The new work will be written for percussionist Louise Devenish and the Monash Sinfonia, which is a student ensemble directed by violinist Anna McMichael,” Hsieh says. “The idea for the piece so far circles around the metaphorical and acoustical presentations of ‘echoes’. We’ll see where/what it ends up being at the end!”

The new prize aims to grow opportunities for women composers and provide an opportunity for Monash students to engage with work composed by living women composers. The finished score will be lodged at the Sir Matheson Library, Monash University and the premiere will be recorded and made available on the school’s SoundCloud page.

“This prize is an important acknowledgement and celebration of the importance of diversity when it comes to people creating new music,” Professor of Music Cat Hope tells Limelight. “Thanks to the generosity of a select group of donors, Monash has the opportunity to support a composer in the creation of a new work for Monash music students in a school ensemble. We are proud to support such an exciting and innovative composer such as Annie, working with percussionist Louise Devenish and the Monash String Sinfonia.”