Inspired by the rich fantasy world of Lewis Carroll, Holly Harrison’s chamber work Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup has won her a new composition prize awarded by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She will receive $7,000 as the recipient of the Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize, awarded to a female composer whose submission is judged to be the best original chamber work.

Holly HarrisonComposer Holly Harrison

“I’m absolutely delighted to be the inaugural recipient of this award, which seeks to acknowledge Australian female composers,” Harrison said. “It is a welcome boost to my creative confidence, and gives me the encouragement to continue composing with increased self-belief for the future.”

The judging panel, headed by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Professor in Composition Liza Lim, praised Harrison’s work for its “vitality and witty theatrical flair; its sophisticated scoring and stylistic interplay in a jazz idiom.” Harrison herself has described Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup as “an amalgam of multiple genres: rock, jazz, hip-hop, metal, pop, blues and funk,” reflective of the whimsical nature of Carroll’s characters.

Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup was composed for the Chicago-based contemporary music ensemble Eighth Blackbird. The work had its premiere during the ensemble’s Australian tour in February of this year, as part of Musica Viva’s 2017 International Concert Season with performances at the Perth International Arts Festival and Adelaide Festival.

Harrison has a string of upcoming professional engagements, including a commisioned concertino for bassoon and string quartet for Matthew Kneale; a sextet for Ensemble Offspring; a children’s work for the Canberra International Music Festival and a piece for the Brisbane ensemble Kupka’s Piano.