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19 September 2018

Major funding for a University of Tasmania Fellowship for Mary Finsterer

A new opera Antarctica as part of a portfolio of compositions

Mary Finsterer at the 2018 Art Music Awards Image: Mary Finsterer at the 2018 Art Music Awards  
© APRA AMCOS / Tegan Louise

Major funding of more than $500,000 has been confirmed for Mary Finsterer's research and compositional work, in the form of a five-year Fellowship at the University of Tasmania where Mary Finsterer is Adjunct Professor. As the Creative Fellow at the College of Arts, Law and Education (CALE), she will work on a portfolio of compositions, including research for a new opera Antarctica. The opera will draw from literature and mythology but it will also be influenced by the scientific research that has been undertaken in the southern continent.

Further to her research work, Finsterer will work with students from the University's Conservatorium of Music, providing masterclasses and one-on-one tuition. The funding includes a generous donation of $250,000 from Melbourne resident Elaine Smith, as well as funding from other philanthropic sources.

About her decision to support Finsterer's Fellowship with her generous gift, Elaine Smith said,

'I have had such a fulfilling journey in life, gaining such enjoyment from the arts. If I help support and assist a composer to pursue her goals through this fellowship, that means the absolute world to me.'

Mary Finsterer hopes the Fellowship will provide an example for other universities to follow:

'In economic terms, most people enjoy income security in relation to their work. This is not the case with composers, nor indeed in the wider arts community. This contribution equates to a .55 salary at a professorial level, and as such establishes a reliable basis on which to build. To my knowledge, this type of partnership between a patron of the arts and a university, established for the sole purpose of supporting a substantial body of compositional output, is a first in this country. The University of Tasmania is leading the way. It is my hope that this innovative partnership model will inspire other universities and philanthropists to find heart and follow.'

Mary Finsterer's latest opera Biographica sold out during its premiere season at last year's Sydney Festival, and was named Vocal/Choral Work of the Year in the 2018 Art Music Awards. Her work has been featured at five International Society for Contemporary Music festivals, and her many awards include a Churchill Fellowship, and the Australia Council for the Arts Composer Fellowship, as well as the 2009 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for her work In praise of darkness, commissioned by ASKO/Schönberg and Tura New Music, and premiered by ASKO/Schönberg at Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw earlier that same year.

Research for Antarctica is already underway.

'I have been working closely with scientists from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), researching their findings and studies with the aim of incorporating this in my new opera', Mary Finsterer said. 'I'm excited by this collaboration, as scientists follow a process that combines analytical and creative thought that isn't far removed from composing, in that we are each guided by modes of investigation and interpretation. Having this connection with science will help to envision my opera in a dynamic and fascinating way. I intend to create an interdisciplinary work that articulates and integrates science across all of the structural levels of the music composition.'

Further links

Mary Finsterer - AMC profile

Mary Finsterer - www.maryfinsterer.com

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