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Fellowship supports award-winning composer to create Antarctica opera

One of Australia’s most acclaimed and award-winning composers will draw on the University of Tasmania’s unique research strengths to create a new opera.

Adjunct Professor Mary Finsterer has been appointed as the College of Arts, Law and Education (CALE) Creative Fellow, supported by a generous donation of $250,000 from Melbourne resident Elaine Smith. The funds will support Mary to create her new opera Antarctica.

“I have had such a fulfilling journey in life, gaining such enjoyment from the arts,” Elaine Smith said.

“If I help support and assist a composer to pursue her dreams through this fellowship, that means the absolute world to me.”

The donation, along with other philanthropic support, will realise more than $500,000 to support Mary’s research and compositional work over a five-year period.

Further to her research work, and as part of her fellowship, Mary will work with students from the University’s Conservatorium of Music, providing masterclasses and one-on-one tuition.

Mary has represented Australia in five International Society for Contemporary Music festivals and has also received numerous prestigious awards including a Churchill Fellowship and the Australia Council for the Arts Composer Fellowship.

Her repertoire covers concert music and feature film.

Her latest opera, Biographica, which sold out during its premiere season at 2017’s Sydney Festival, was named Vocal/Choral Work of the Year in the 2018 Art Music Awards.

CALE Executive Dean Professor Kate Darian-Smith said the College and the University are extremely fortunate to have such a well-known and highly regarded Australian composer as a Fellow.

“The Creative Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to host practising artists, who will bring a wealth of experience and expertise in their creative endeavours,” Professor Darian-Smith said.

“The University’s students will not only get to enjoy and benefit from Mary’s innovation and practice but so too the broader Tasmanian community with opportunities for concerts, showcases and collaborations throughout the fellowship.”

The fellowship will support Mary to further her research for Antarctica.

“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 said.

The opera draws from literature and mythology but will be influenced by the scientific research that has been undertaken in this most mysterious continent.

“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,” Mary said.

“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.

“Collaborating with scientists from IMAS is intrinsic to this process.”

Source: UTAS

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