National Sawdust, the renowned music incubator and non-profit, announced today the first annual Hildegard Competition for emerging women composers. Composers of winning works will each receive a $7,000 cash prize, a performance and recording by the Refugee Orchestra at National Sawdust, and coaching and mentorship by two critically acclaimed composers: NS Artistic Director Paola Prestini and NS Curator Angélica Negrón. The competition is targeted exclusively to self-identifying female composers in the early stages of their careers, providing them with financial resources, a public performance, and mentorship from some of the most talented composers working today. The announcement of the Hildegard Competition follows the launch of the venue’s third season, which features 15 female composers and artists as curators, Artists in Residence, and commissioned creators. This focus on women further cements National Sawdust’s reputation as an institution that “links the music to broader social issues” (Time Out New York). As the New Yorker put it: “Artistically, National Sawdust’s young and novel presence on the New York scene has been a smashing success.”
Named for the seminal medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen, the Hildegard Competition will be judged by three women at the forefront of music composition: Prestini, Negrón, and NS Curator and Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun. The Refugee Orchestra, conducted by its founder, Lidiya Yankovskaya, will perform the winning works in summer 2018. Applicants from all over the world are encouraged to apply, knowing that the focus will be only on the quality of the work: no letter of recommendation or résumé is required, only a signed declaration that the applicant’s professional experience does not exceed the competition criteria for “emerging artist.”
Composer Paola Prestini, the Artistic Director of National Sawdust, commented: “I am thrilled to announce the launch of the Hildegard Competition. Social equality does not happen naturally – it must be forged. For the music field to create the most vibrant and relevant new work, today’s institutions must elevate women – and other underrepresented voices – to positions of prominence, and provide platforms for their work to be experienced. I believe this initiative will have positive ripple effects within the artistic community for many years to come. I’m very grateful for the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation for providing the resources necessary to make the Hildegard Competition possible.” Funding for all National Sawdust’s endeavors to support women composers this season is thanks in part to a generous grant by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.