Liza Lim receives the Happy New Ears composition award


Australian composer and lecturer at the Sydney Conservatory of Music, Liza Lim, received the 2021 Happy New Ears Award for Composition, presented by the Hans und Gertrud Zender Foundation in collaboration with the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, the series of concerts Musica Viva and radio BR-KLASSIK.

Liza Lim. Photo © Klaus Rudolf.

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Happy New Ears Initiative awards two annual awards: one for composition, recognizing “courageous colleagues who are not only interested in immediate success”, and the Publishing Prize. which “aims to show gratitude to people who contribute to the formation of ‘new ears’ with their work”. The award was created by the late German composer and conductor Hans Zender and his wife. Zender is probably best known for his radical 1993 reinterpretation of Franz Schubert Winterreise for tenor and orchestra. The award is named after John Cage’s famous public invitation to “listen without prejudice”.

Lim is the sixth composer to receive the Composition Prize, after German composers Enno Poppe (2011), Isabel Mundry (2013) and Klaus Ospald (2019), British composer Rebecca Saunders (2015) and French composer Mark Andre (2017 ). The six composers worked hard and are well known in Germany.

Both prizes are awarded by juries organized by the Hans und Gertrud Zender Foundation. Prizes are not announced, making entries impossible.

“The award is by nomination so it was a total surprise! In fact, when I heard the news, I assumed the email was spam; the jury is out on enough, ”Lim wrote on his website after receiving the news.

The 2021 New Music Publishing Prize was awarded to Italian musicologist Gianmario Borio.

The awards will be officially presented at a ceremony in 2022, during which the composition of Lim Marie / Transcendence after a trauma will be premiered by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johannes Kalitzke. The piece is part of a larger orchestral cycle, the Annunciation triptych, which will premiere in a separate concert next year as part of the Acht Brüken festival in Cologne.


You will find more information on the Happy New Ears Awards here.

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