The 2018 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition (MICMC) will feature the world premieres of two new works by Australian composers Holly Harrison and Paul Stanhope. The competition, which is being produced by Musica Viva for the first time this year, in partnership with Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australian National Academy of Music, will see eight string quartets and eight piano trios battle it out for a combined prize pool of over $150,000. There will also be prizes going to the best performances of the commissioned works.

Paul StanhopePaul Stanhope

Paul Stanhope, who is Senior Lecturer in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (and whose recent album Luz Aeterna with the Sydney Chamber Choir received four stars from Limelight) will provide the new work for the piano trio stream.

“Musica Viva has a fantastic track record in supporting the creation of new chamber music,” Stanhope said. “This high-level competition is a wonderful and relatively rare opportunity for chamber music groups from around the world, and it will be a treat to hear the performances.”

Holly HarrisonHolly Harrison

Harrison, whose work Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup was commissioned by Musica Viva with support from Geoff Stearn and the Hildegard Project for last year’s tour by American new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird (the work went on to win the Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize), has been commissioned for the string quartet. Her new work has been billed as an exciting stylistic melting-pot of bluegrass, punk-rock and disco in which the “players go rogue”.

“The piece is intended to be theatrical and encourages the quartet to perform with abandon,” Harrison says. “MICMC is a massive event on the Australian music calendar as it brings international competition to our doorstep. I’m very much looking forward to hearing how each of the quartets will interpret my piece, as well as Paul Stanhope’s piano trio!”

The 2015 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, then run by Chamber Music Australia, also featured the premieres of two works, as part of its Australian New Works Award. The winners were Michael Bakrnčev for his Piano Trio No. 2 Janino and Connor D’Netto for his String Quartet No. 2.

The Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition runs July 1 to 8, with Heats and Semi-Finals at the Australian National Academy of Music and the Grand Finals at Melbourne Recital Centre. Subscription packages are on sale now, single tickets and day passes on sale April 24.

Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine