Ottawa composer Kelly-Marie Murphy wins Symphony Nova Scotia prize

Kelly-Marie Murphy. Photo Alan Dean Photography

Ottawa composer Kelly-Marie Murphy has won the first ever Maria Anna Mozart Award for Canadian female composers.

The award was created by Symphony Nova Scotia in 2016. It provides funds for Symphony Nova Scotia to commission and perform a new symphonic work by a Canadian woman every three years. The award is the first of its kind in Canada, and was made possible by a donation from Jane Gordon of Halifax.

In announcing the award, Bernhard Gueller, the music director of Symphony Nova Scotia, said in a media release that: “Kelly-Marie Murphy stood out. Her submitted pieces immediately grabbed my attention. They were, from the first note, so interesting and full of temperament, so well crafted.”

Murphy’s music has been performed across Canada and around the world. She is the winner of multiple awards and prizes, and has written for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including Blue on Blue: Unthinkable Distance, Unspeakable Sorrow which honoured Sgt. Marc Leger who was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan for the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. She has also written for the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, the Gryphon Trio and the Cecilia and Afiara String Quartets.

A delighted Murphy is quoted in a media release saying, “I know how incredibly talented Canadian composers are, and it is an honour to count this among my achievements. I look forward to creating a new piece for Symphony Nova Scotia.”

The work she will compose will be about 10 minutes in length, and will be premiered by Symphony Nova Scotia on March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day.

According to a recent report by NPR, only 1.8 per cent of music programmed by major U.S. orchestras was written by women. Even more surprising is the fact that women composers only accounted for 14.3 per cent of performances of works by living composers.

More information about the Maria Anna Mozart Award can be found at 

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.