By reimagining the sounds of everyday objects, Samantha Wolf’s composition Want Not has won the Sue W Chamber Music Composition prize for 2019, worth $7000. The biennial award is part of an initiative at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to support female Australian Composers and is made possible by a gift from Mrs Sue Willgoss and Associate Professor Richard Willgoss.

Composer Samantha Wolf

For Wolf, music is a way of understanding and interacting with the world around her and Want Not does exactly that. Originally commissioned by Rubiks Collective for the Inaugural Pythia Prize, Want Not is a culmination of the sounds of traditional instruments – piccolo, piano, percussion and cello, and the sounds generated from discarded, damaged or unused objects, such as gum packets, fruit bowls, and plastic forks. The Chair of the judging panel, Professor Liza Lim describes the work as “taking a sensual, tactile approach to sound that imaginatively responds to a challenging social and environmental issue”

Wolf said, “I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the Sue W Chamber Composition Prize for 2019. I am especially delighted that Want Not, a work that is very special to me, was chosen as the winning piece. She praised the musicians of Rubiks Collective, Gemma Kneale, Jacob Abela, Kaylie Melville, and Tamara Kohler, saying they are “the greatest collaborators any composer could hope for, and I share this prize with them. More broadly, any initiative that addresses the gender imbalance in music composition is both welcome and needed, and I commend the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for taking such a decisive step to combat this persistent issue. My sincerest gratitude to the sponsors, Sue and Richard Willgoss, the University of Sydney, and the judging panel for this great honour.”

Wolf has a number of upcoming engagements. Want Not will be programmed in the Conservatorium’s Modern Music Ensemble season, and a world premiere of her new trio will be performed in Ensemble Offspring’s Kontiki Racket.