Lachlan Skipworth and Brett Dean have been announced as the winners of the 2016 Paul Lowin Prizes.The announcement was made in Sydney on December 6, 2016 by the Australian Music Centre in collaboration with Perpetual.
A first-time Lowin finalist, the Western Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth took home the $25,000 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for his Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2014). Fellow finalists James Ledger and Cathy Milliken received a special commendation and the sum of $400 each.
Brett Dean was announced as the winner of the $15,000 Song Cycle Prize for his String Quartet No. 2 ‘And once I played Ophelia’ (2013) for soprano and string quartet. The two commended finalists ($400) in this category were Andrew Ford and Andrew Schultz.
Lachlan Skipworth (b. 1982) trained initially as a clarinettist and spent three years in Japan immersed in the study of the shakuhachi. On returning to Australia, he continued to develop and refine his original compositional language. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Western Australia, where he studied with Roger Smalley, and a Master of Music (Composition) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he studied with Anne Boyd. The performance of his Lowin-winning work by Ashley William Smith and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra won the Performance of the Year category in the 2015 Art Music Awards. The Lowin Prize jury said of Skipworth’s Concerto: “Highly accomplished, evocative work with virtuosic writing for the clarinet… An idiosyncratic work with the very individual voice of the composer coming through.”
Brett Dean (b. 1961) is a leading Australian composer with major works commissioned and performed by numerous international orchestras. His many awards include the coveted international Grawemeyer Award (2009), Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize (2006) and Song Cycle Prize (2001), and many Art Music Awards and Classical Music Awards. Dean studied in Brisbane before moving to Germany in 1984 where he was a permanent member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, as a violist, for over 15 years. Dean began composing in 1988, initially working on film, radio and improvisatory projects. Today he is also known as a conductor and champion of his fellow composers’ work. The Lowin Prize jury said of Dean’s winning work: “This intensely dramatic work was a standout for the judges… A compelling and exciting work, it pins the listener to the wall from the outset with its extra ordinary high tessitura, virtuosic vocal line and demanding string writing.”
The awards are named after Paul Lowin who was born in 1893 in Czechoslovakia. He lived in Austria in the 1930s before settling in Australia in 1939 where he lived for two decades before returning to Vienna, where he died in 1961. He left a hand-written will which indicated his wish to establish a competition for works by living Australian composers. The competition was initially held every three years between 1991-97, and since then every 2-3 years.
The 2016 Paul Lowin Prizes attracted the largest number of entries in the competition’s history, with 67 entries in the Orchestral category, and 59 in the Song Cycle category. Previous winners include Nigel Westlake, Elliott Gyger, Mary Finsterer, Andrew Schultz, Brett Dean, Rosalind Page, Nigel Butterley, Julian Yu, Georges Lentz, Brenton Broadstock, Martin Wesley-Smith, Michael Smetanin, Raffæle Marcellino, Liza Lim and Andrew Ford.