Australian guitarist Matt Withers has announced that the 2020 iteration of his Australian Music Composition Competition will be bigger than ever, with more money on offer, and the winning works performed by Withers and pianist Sally Whitwell.

Matt WithersMatt Withers

“Generous sponsors have come on board to grow the Australian Music Composition Competition dramatically in 2020, to possibly the largest of its kind, offering well over $10,000 in cash and prizes,” Withers told Limelight. “Winning composers will share in almost $5,000 in cash plus have their works toured, workshopped and recorded for commercial release on a new ABC Classic album by Sally Whitwell and myself.”

The winning composers will also be flown to the Australian National University’s School of Music for a public workshop where they can hear their music performed ahead of the recording.

The Competition, which Withers launched in 2014, has gone from strength to strength, with 2018’s prize-winners – Wade Gregory, Rick Alexander and Nava Ryan – having their works toured by the guitarist and the Acacia Quartet, and recorded on ABC Classic.

This year composers are invited to submit works for classical guitar and piano. “Guitar is a notoriously difficult instrument to write for but adding it with the exciting duo combination with piano will give composers the ability to spread their musical creativity across two of the most popular instruments in music,” Withers says. “The guitar will be amplified for a slight boost in volume, however consideration will given to how the composers choose to write effectively for the chamber ensemble. Both instruments are so versatile, and though they cannot sustain a note as long as other instruments, both can create beautiful melodies and fantastic rhythms.”

The Competition is open to composers of all ages, and includes an Under 25 Emerging Composer award. The winning music will be performed in 2020, including performances as part of Musica Viva’s 2020 Regional NSW Touring program and at the 2020 Melbourne Guitar Festival.

Sue Needham's OutbackSue Needham’s Outback

Queensland artist Sue Needham, who provided inspiration artworks for last year’s competition, has created a new piece for this year, titled Outback. “In this particular outback rendering of an aerial landscape I’ve depicted variations of what’s on earth,” she said. “Seen from above one’s imagination takes over. What can a musician interpret from the abstraction of country from high above I wonder?”


Entries for the Matt Withers Australian Music Composition Competition are open until January 31, 2020

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