Enter your username and password

Forgotten your username or password?

Your Shopping Cart

There are no items in your shopping cart.

14 April 2015

Musica Viva's Hildegard Project: more exposure and commissions to female composers

Natalie Williams Image: Natalie Williams  
© Megagraphics Photography

Musica Viva's new initiative, the Hildegard Project will see one of the world's leading chamber music presenters commission more women to write chamber music. Participants of the project will receive the support Musica Viva offers to its composers, including publicity around performances, and opportunities to connect with the organisation's network of performers, patrons and other composers.

The official launch of the new program took place after a performance, at last weekend's Musica Viva Festival in Sydney, of a new string octet by Natalie Williams - a work commissioned for Musica Viva by Linda Matthews and Robin Budden in honour of their mothers. The Hildegard Project itself has its origins in a generous gift made by Katherine Grinberg in honour of the late Adrienne Nagy and her sister Yolanda (Nagy) Daniel. The Nagy sisters were passionate about making a difference in the music world, with particular interests in the areas of education and composition, and reaching those who were finding participation a challenge.

'There is never a simple panacea for gender imbalance, but my hope is that the Hildegard Project, by shining a spotlight on women composers, will bring to the fore talented women who may have previously been overlooked', said Musica Viva's artistic director, Carl Vine. 'Ultimately we hope that this will encourage more young women to consider a career in composition, and start to amend the current imbalance in Australia that sees female composers outnumbered three to one.'

Currently about a quarter of living composers represented by the Australian Music Centre are women. The Hildegard Project has been named after Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century German nun considered to be one of the earliest women composers whose work has survived.

Inclusion in the Hildegard Project will be by invitation, which is the case with all Musica Viva commissions, explains Musica Viva's Director of Artistic Planning, Katherine Kemp:

'Matching of a composer with an opportunity is a detailed and complex decision, so inclusion in this project will be by invitation only. However, we're keen to find new pieces and composers, and protocols for artists and composers who would like to inform us about their activities can be found on our website. And of course we will continue to seek out and program high quality chamber music from all demographics; we're not about to neglect men! We are also very grateful for the wonderful resource that is the Australian Music Centre, without whom our goals for Australian music would be much harder to achieve.'

Subjects discussed by this article:


Add your thoughts to other users' discussion of this article.

You must login to post a comment.

Has Hildegarde Passed On?

The Hildegard Project was completely unknown to me until I followed my nose down the rabbit hole of links from the post on the three winners of the Covid-19 Momentum special commissions to eventually land at this page.

This page tells us clearly that the Hildegard Project has arisen from wonderful inspiration, and Musica Viva is to be commended for doing something really pro-active about getting Australian women's music into the concert hall.

Then to find out that the particular process used by Musica Viva is by invitation only, and please follow the link to find out more about the process of getting on the list. Hoping at last for some transparency.. I looked!

Unfortunately the link does not work, but upon my search of the Musica Viva website, I found some information on this page: https://musicaviva.com.au/artist-development/the-hildegard-project/

Even more sadly, the information was only about the pieces of music, the performers and patrons of past award recipients.  Notable, the last (most recent) performance being held on 2017.

Does this mean that the Hildegard Project is no longer in existence? Does this mean that equality of the sexes in the Australian art music scene was achieved in 2017?

If so, well done Musica Viva! Perhaps you could send a few notes to our politicians to help them realise how it can be done so silently in the background with little obvious effort.