Dr Katy Abbott wins for Hidden Thoughts at the 2019 Paul Lowin Prizes
Dr Katy Abbott, Senior Lecturer in Music (Composition) at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, has been announced as one of the winners of the 2019 Paul Lowin Prizes in a ceremony at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Katy Abbott's Hidden Thoughts 1 (2017) for six voices and mixed instrumental media last week won the $15,000 Song Cycle Prize, while composer Nigel Westlake was awarded the $25,000 Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize.
Abbott's nearly hour-long work – which begins with a hi-hat percussion solo, and ends with 12 a capella voices singing in unison – is the first composition in her series of festival pieces for The Song Company and Syzygy Ensemble. The work, commissioned with funds provided by the Australia Council for the Arts, sets to music "secret thoughts" by anonymous women.
In their comments on Hidden Thoughts 1, the prize jury said:
"This uniquely Australian work has an innovative and beautifully nuanced score with the compelling text always shining through. The composer shows an excellent technical understanding for each voice type with voiceless interludes focusing the narrative and establishing a wonderful emotional connection for the listener. [...] an inclusive and interactive work for the audience."
The text for the Abbott's Hidden Thoughts 1 was based on responses by more than 200 women to a confidential survey, with questions such as: Do you have hidden thoughts and feelings? Tell me what they are; What have you learnt to be brave about?; and, What would you like to be braver about?
Speaking to the ABC, Abbott said: "Hidden Thoughts is a bit of a journey into that murky place – it's the chatter in your head, as dark as it is ridiculous. And it asks you to consider what confines you. Eckhart Tolle said: 'Become a witness to your thoughts and you are no longer a slave to them.' That's where it started. Not necessarily from that quote. But that's the idea behind it."
Hidden Thoughts is available online as an ABC podcast.