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Marion von Tilzer wins Women's Composition Prize MCN with Rote Schuhe

Amsterdam, 8 October 2012 During the well-attended Classical Music Day at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ the prize winners of the competition for women composers were announced this afternoon. The day was organised for the 11th time by Music centre Netherlands (MCN), which will cease to exist on 1 January. Thanks to an anonymous bequest, explicitly intended for women composers, three prizes could be awarded. Marion von Tilzer won first prize with Rote Schuhe, comprising €10,000; two incentive prizes of €2,500 went to Aspasia Nasopoulou (Lelia doura) and Mathilde Wantenaar (still untitled). The scores will be published by Donemus, the publishing arm of MCN. - So the ladies will have to hurry.

Jury chair Miranda van Drie briefly touched on the sense and nonsense of a composition prize aimed especially at women. It was striking that one of the conservatoire teachers who had been invited to take part had indicated that he would not inform his students about the competition, because he thought the idea behind it was nonsense. This elicited disapproving reactions from the audience. Rightly so, as female composers still get considerably fewer opportunities than their male colleagues. The large number of entries - 59 in total - proves that there is indeed a need among women to measure themselves against each other. It is therefore to be hoped that this competition will be taken over by another organisation, now that MCN will cease to exist. Perhaps something for Women on Top?

Van Drie pointed out the great variety of the submitted proposals and the huge age differences: the youngest entrant was 19, the oldest 72 years old. Von Tilzer, originally from Austria, won first prize with Rote Schuhe, for the unusual line-up of string quartet, double bass, flute, oboe and Hardanger violin. This Norwegian folk music instrument has sympathetic strings (strings next to the neck that resonate more, but are not played separately) and is attributed a devilish character.

Von Tilzer based her piece on an Andersen fairy tale about a girl who tries to realise her dreams despite an oppressive religion. According to the jury report, she manages to give this struggle "expressive form through the development from a strictly march-like theme to a rhythmic dance and then its culmination in a soaring melody". Von Tilzer hopes to finish her composition in November, after which it will be premiered by The cast plays.

Greek-born Aspasia Nasopoulou received an incentive prize for her recorder quintet Lelia doura, in which she combines contemporary composition techniques and unusual rhythms with medieval texts and chants. In this way, she 'makes a beautiful connection with tradition and the past'. The jury report also refers to the large number of professional and amateur recorder players in our country, who will soon be able to add a new piece to their repertoire.

A second incentive prize went to the youngest participant, Mathilde Wantenaar. She studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music and submitted an idea for the original scoring of piano, bandoneon, bes clarinet, viola, cello and double bass. In her explanation, she related her composition to life itself, which she experiences "as a rollercoaster ride full of emotions". The plan expressed youthful enthusiasm, as well as thoughtful and mature thinking about her composition. The jury is curious to see how she will further shape the varied and surprising elements in her proposal.'

It would be nice if the three compositions were premiered in one concert, perhaps Woman & Music play a role in this?

There were 10 nominees: Anke Brouwer; Rieteke Hölscher; Sylvia Maessen; Mayke Nas; Apasia Nasopoulou; Anna van Nieukerken; Sharon Stewart; Marion von Tilzer; Mathilde Wantenaar and Sinta Wullur.

The jury consisted of Miranda van Drie, director of the NJO (chair), Thea Derks, music publicist; Olga de Kort, music publicist; Eleonore Pameijer, flautist, and Astrid in 't Veld, programmer of Vredenburg's De Vrijdag. 


Thea Derks

Thea Derks studied English and Musicology. In 1996, she completed her studies in musicology cum laude at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in contemporary music and in 2014 published the critically acclaimed biography 'Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody'. Four years on, she completed 'An ox on the roof: modern music in vogevlucht', aimed especially at the interested layperson. You buy it here: In 2020, the 3rd edition of the Reinbertbio appeared,with 2 additional chapters describing the period 2014-2020. These also appeared separately as Final Chord.View Author posts

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