This week, Sounds Australia and the Australian Music Centre were scheduled to be in Rotterdam, along with the international classical and art music community, for Classical:NEXT 2020. The coronavirus outbreak has meant the conference has had to be postponed until 2021 – however, it’s not stopping the program entirely.

Currently, Classical:NEXT is running a series of online panels, talks, events and meet-ups, and the annual Innovation Award will be streamed online for the very first time. You’ll be able to watch it Wednesday May 20 at 9am (USA ET), 2pm (UK BST), 3pm (CEST) and 11pm (AEST).

We are very excited that Liza Lim and the Composing Women program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music has been shortlisted for this year’s Innovation Award. To celebrate we asked Liza, as well as four composers involved in the program – Bree van Reyk, Georgia Scott, Peggy Polias and Josepheine Macken – to select four tracks of music important to them, also including their own work.

Keep reading to find out what they chose – and you can hear their selections on Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube.

Liza Lim

Liza Lim is a composer, educator and researcher whose music focusses on collaborative and transcultural practices. The roots of beauty (in noise), time effects in the Anthropocene and the sensoria of ecological connection are ongoing concerns in her compositional work.

Here are 4 tracks of mine. A playlist about love in many forms – human, spiritual and ecological – aren’t these all ultimately related?

Genevieve Lacey, recorder, plays a song about erotic longing

‘Speak, Be Silent’
Sarah Soviet, violin; Riot Ensemble conducted by Aaron Holloway Nahum – the title comes from Rumi’s poetry:
The command comes to speak, and you feel the ocean moving through you.
Then comes, Be silent, as when the rain stops, and the trees in the orchard begin to draw moisture up into themselves.

‘Our embraces are a banquet of revolving time’
The last movement of Tongue of the Invisible. Omar Ibrahim, baritone; Uri Caine, piano & bass melodica, Ensemble MusikFabrik conducted by Andre de Ridder – A song about divine love

From How Forests Think. ELISION Ensemble conducted by Carl Rosman. the sound of fertility, abundance and ecstasy.


Bree van Reyk

Bree van Reyk is a drummer, percussionist, composer and sound artist who makes unconventional and tradition-challenging performance works. Her music resides in the intersection between contemporary classical, indie-rock and performance art and is equally warm-hearted, celebratory, and focussed on issues of equality.

Bree van Reyk – ‘Light for the First Time’ (performed by Ensemble Offspring)
I wrote this piece while pregnant. We arrived at the point where our baby could see external light whilst still nestled safely inside my uterus. I was so struck by the enormity of that experience and attempted to sound that first instant in extreme slow motion. The piece relies on a free and open interpretation of the quasi-improvised score by the musicians and it’s a joy to hear some of my dearest friends and colleagues from Ensemble Offspring perform so beautifully here.

Gurrumul – ‘Waak (Crow)’ from Djarimirri
Gurrumul’s music, voice and dreaming touched audiences in Australia and around the world in an incredible way and I’m thankful to have heard these ancient songs through his work. I was lucky enough to play percussion on this seminal album, and will hold the experience as a life highlight always. Erkki Veltheim’s orchestral arrangements offer a very inspiring and innovative avenue for bringing together these diverse and rich traditions.

Dirty Three – ‘Some Summers They Drop Like Flys’ from Whatever You Love, You Are
I’ve recently finished recording my debut instrumental album and was honoured to have Jim White and Mick Turner from Dirty Three contribute their beautiful playing on drums and guitar respectively. They are among my favourite instrumentalists ever and I fell in love with Dirty Three as a teenager and am in love with their music still for its unique ability to be at once intense, sprawling, rich, desolate, uplifting and melancholy.

Mary Finsterer – ‘Silva’ (performed by Ensemble Offspring)
Mary’s music is wonderfully rich, fluid and glowing. This piece seems to me to never start or end. It twists and turns and offers multitude possibilities, but no finite conclusions.


Georgia Scott

Georgia Scott is a freelance composer, orchestrator and arranger. Georgia has had works premiered in venues such as The National Portrait Gallery, London, The Dulwich Picture Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, National Sawdust and the Sydney Opera House.

‘Fire’ by Aidan Rosa performed by Viet-Anh Nguyen
Escapisms is a take on alchemy, transmuting “borrowed” material into something new. Each movement is named after one of the five classical elements. Each element emphasises a different form of transformation in each movement.” – Aidan Rosa

‘Spin’ by Alexis Weaver 
“Spin belongs to a larger suite of pieces, each of which feature the evocative sonorities of much beloved, mechanical toys from childhood. All the sounds in this work are derived from a single sound source, a spinning top.” – Alexis Weaver

‘Tardigradus’ by Melody Eötvös commissioned by Ensemble Offspring and performed by Claire Edwardes and Lamorna Nightingale
“This work accompanies the Tardigrade as we delve into the microscopic world of moss and lichen to observe its detail as well as follow this remarkable slow stepping warrior through its paces.” – Melody Eötvös

‘Lake Ice (Missed Tales No. 1)’ by Mary Finsterer performed by Kees Boersma and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
“Lake Ice sits at the apex of a series of orchestral works I aim to create called Missed Tales, based on the conceit that an anonymous collection of stories has been found after thousands of years in the recesses of a cave in Northern Europe. It searches for ways to bring the solo double bass to the fore and highlights the many strange and beautiful sonorities it can produce.” – Mary Finsterer


Peggy Polias

Peggy Polias is a composer and music typesetter based in Sydney. Polias prepares scores, instrumental parts and other print music materials for some of Australia’s leading composers. Polias explores the influences of Javanese Gamelan, minimalism, feminism, fractals and handicrafts in her music, and takes a keen interest in the possibilities for music in the online space.

These are some eclectic solo and chamber works I’ve composed over a range of about 10 years. A common theme seems to be “air”: in Little Secret, the “airing” of sounds long hidden; Hive is about bees, creatures that fly; “Time III” evokes a spiritual, aethereal dimension; in Electro Fractal Gamelan the percussionist on vibraphone responds to a backing track generated from sine tones, evoking just one fragment of a larger, possibly galactic entity.

Little Secret (2019) for flute, backing track and gate effect
Performed by Lamorna Nightingale (flute)

‘Buzzing’ from Hive (2016), for clarinet, viola, piano (and voice)
Performed by The Nano Symphony: Catherine Thompson (clarinet, voice), Neil Thompson (viola, voice), Lee Akinsanya (piano)

‘Time III’ from Picnic at Hanging Rock Suite (2009), for piano
Performed by Philip Eames (piano)

Electro Fractal Gamelan (2011) for vibraphone and backing track
Performed by Kaylie Dunstan


Josephine Macken

Josephine Macken is a composer and improviser based in Sydney, Australia and co-founder of SPIRAL Ensemble and the lost+sound collective. Both performatively and compositionally, Josephine’s compositional process is deeply collaborative, straining to reconcile the ungainly distinctions between the performer’s voice and the voice of their instrument, examining breath as gestural language and facilitating occurrences of psychoacoustic phenomena in performance.

Georges Lentz, Ingwe (2003-18) for solo electric guitar, extract: bars 113-79
“Ingwe is on the one hand the radiant night sky in the silent vastness of the desert – on the other hand, and in this piece more importantly, the ‘night within’: darkness and pain in my own life at the time I was writing the piece, depression, loneliness, the suicide of one of my closest friends. It is also the night surrounding us in the world every day – hatred, violence, greed, disease, the wilful destruction of our planet…” -Lentz

Lisa Illean, Januaries (2017) for ensemble of 12 instruments
“[Illean] shows an extraordinary sensitivity to colour and timbre and creates an absorbing sound-world which lingers after listening.” – Australian Art Music Awards, 2018

Chris Dench, Ik(s)land[s] (1997-98) for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, guitar, percussion, violin & cello
A gorgeously erratic setting of the prose of Berni Janssen; in the words of Paul Griffiths, “a wonderful example of Denchian swirl and wildness in an atmosphere of floating.”

Kate Moore, Canon (2013) for piano quartet
Written for and recorded by pianist Saskia Lankhoorn, this piece is a mesmerizing listen, drawing remarkable richness out of simple processes.