The finalists for the 2019 Paul Lowin Prizes have been announced, with six Australian compositions shortlisted for the prestigious Orchestral and Song Cycle prizes. The finalists were chosen from almost 100 original works composed since the previous Lowin Prizes awarded in 2016.

“The submissions to this year’s Paul Lowin Prizes reflect the multitude of styles in composition and artistic expression that is one of the main hallmarks of Australian art music today,” said CEO of the Australian Music Centre John Davis.

Katy AbbottKaty Abbott

The finalists for the Orchestral Prize, worth $25,000, are Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto, which Alban Gerhardt performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra last year, conducted by David Robertson; Lachlan Skipworth’s Spiritus, premiered by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, under Daniel Blendulf (which has already collected the 2017 Albert H Maggs Composition Award and was a finalist in the 2018 Art Music Awards); and Nigel Westlake’s Spirit of the Wild Concerto for Oboe, which the Sydney Symphony Orchestra premiered in 2017 with Diana Doherty. The SSO’s recent recording of the work has also been nominated for an ARIA Award.

In the running for the $15,000 Song Cycle Prize are Katy Abbott’s Hidden Thoughts for six voices and instrumental sextet, written for The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble and drawing on the “hidden thoughts” of women collected in an anonymous survey; Elliott Gyger’s This Kind of Life, a piece for soprano, mezzo-soprano, clarinet, cello, harp and piano, setting correspondence between celebrated chef Julia Child and her friend Avis DeVoto, which was premiered by Halcyon; and Luke Styles’ setting of poetry by Les Murray, On Bunyah, for tenor, string quartet and piano, premiered by Mark Padmore and the Britten Sinfonia.

All but Katy Abbott and Luke Styles are previous Paul Lowin prize winners.

The winners of this year’s prizes – who will join a list that includes Mary Finsterer, Rosalind Page, Martin Wesley-Smith, Michael Smetanin, Liza Lim and Andrew Ford – will be announced in conjunction with the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, which will this year be delivered by soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham, at Melbourne Recital Centre on October 22.

“In 2019, we’re fortunate to be able to bring together these two crucially important events of the Australian art music calendar, in a celebration of our vibrant and multifaceted art form,” said Davis. “The list of people who have delivered the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address over the years is similarly proof of a strong trend towards diversity and true freedom of artistic expression. We are honoured to have Deborah Cheetham AO, an important art leader and one of our strongest compositional voices to have emerged over the past few years, deliver the 2019 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address.”

The 2019 Paul Lowin Prizes will be announced at Melbourne Recital Centre on October 22