Mark Holdsworth has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Arcadia Winds Composition Prize, receiving $1,500 in prize money and flights to Melbourne to workshop with Arcadia Winds. His new composition for wind quintet, Hellfire, will be premiered by Arcadia Winds at the Melbourne Recital Centre on October 30, and will also be featured on Arcadia Winds’ Australian Wind Music Portal.

Mark Holdsworth. Photograph supplied

A young Perth-based composer and graduate of the University of Western Australia’s Conservatorium of Music, Holzworth has had works premiered by some of Australia’s most prestigious musicians including the Australian String Quartet and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. He was also appointed as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Young Composer in Residence for 2019, involving two new commissions for the MSO.

Panellist and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne, Elliott Gyger, said, “The winning work stood out for its technical sophistication and inventiveness, but above all for its strong sense of individuality and purpose. It makes a strong statement and is not afraid to push the quintet to extremes of sonic intensity.”

The winning piece was chosen from 30 young contenders from around Australia, aged between 18 and 30 years; all had submitted an original composition for wind quintet between six to nine minutes in length. The panel also included Matthew Hindson, composer and Deputy Head of School, University of Sydney, and Marshall McGuire, harpist and Director of Programming, Melbourne Recital Centre.

A second prize of $500 was awarded to Sydney-based composer Ben Robinson for his work Earworm.

The Arcadia Winds Composition Prize is curated by the young Australian wind ensemble Arcadia Winds, whose desire to promote Australian music has led them to commission works by composers such as Elliott Gyger, Natalie Williams, Lachlan Skipworth, Kate Neal and Elizabeth Younan.

Of Holdsworth’s winning work, Arcadia Winds clarinettist Lloyd Van’t Hoff reflected, “The work was immediately arresting right from the beginning. It’s so attractively written for each of the wind instruments, with Mark displaying his unique and distinct musical identity throughout. I remember particularly upon my first hearing of the work, that I didn’t want the piece to end. It was so gripping that I just wanted more!”