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The Hildegard Project

Alice Chance & the Enigma Quartet

In 2015, Musica Viva launched the Hildegard Project, the first dedicated national program aimed at encouraging female composers in the Australian music landscape.

At the time of the Hildegard Project’s inception, only a quarter of living composers represented by the Australian Music Centre were women. This highlights a vast gender imbalance in composition that Musica Viva seeks to redress with this pioneering program.

As an industry leader in supporting Australian composition on the concert stage and within its education programs, Musica Viva has extended this tradition of support specifically to female composers. The Hildegard Project is intended to assist women at all stages of their careers in composition.

Through this program, Musica Viva will commission more women to write high quality chamber music. Participants receive varied support from Musica Viva including significant publicity around concerts, and opportunities to connect with the organisation’s network of performers, patrons and other composers; as well as tailor-made developmental opportunities where appropriate. In addition to commissioning new work the program will seek opportunities to present and promote existing works and increase the public profile of all program participants.

The Hildegard Project has its origins in a generous gift made by Katherine Grinberg in honour of the late Yolanda Daniel (née Nagy) and Adrienne Nagy. The Project is named after Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century German nun, one of the earliest female composers whose work is still performed.

“There is never a simple panacea for gender imbalance, but my hope is that The Hildegard Project, by shining a spotlight on female composers, will bring to the fore talented women who may have previously been overlooked. Ultimately we hope that this will encourage more women to consider a career in composition, and start to amend the current imbalance in Australia that sees female composers outnumbered three to one.”
Carl Vine AO, Artistic Director, Musica Viva


Arranged by year of premiere performance.


Holly Harrison was commissioned by Geoff Stearn and with support from the Hildegard Project to create a new work for Eighth Blackbird, which premiered as part of their national Australian tour for Musica Viva’s 2017 International Concert Season.


Cerulean Orbits by Jane Stanley, was commissioned for Musica Viva with support from the Hildegard Project towards fees and travel costs for a composer workshop with the performers. It premiered with nine performances as part of Musica Viva’s International Concert Season tour across Australia by Benjamin Beilman, violin, and Andrew Tyson, piano.

From Ashes to Embers by Gabriella Vici, was commissioned for Musica Viva with support from the Hildegard Project for fees, composer travel and workshop expenses. It was premiered by the Arcadia Winds in Sydney and Melbourne for Musica Viva Coffee Concerts.

Spinning Top by Nicole Murphy was commissioned for Musica Viva by Andrea and Malcolm Hall-Brown to encourage greater support of the arts. The Hildegard Project supported the expenses of the composer to facilitate a rehearsal workshop. The premiere performance was given by the Benaud Trio in Melbourne for a Musica Viva Coffee Concert.

Joan of Arc Variations by Alicia Grant was commissioned for Musica Viva with support from the Hildegard Project. The premiere performance is scheduled for Tamara Anna Cislowska, piano, and the Orava Quartet at the 2016 Huntington Estate Music Festival.

Shoreditch Grind by Elizabeth Younan was premiered by Arcadia Winds as part of the BBC Proms chamber series in Melbourne. The Hildegard Project supported composer workshop expenses. The piece received another performance at the Musica Viva Festival in 2017.


Saudade, by Natalie Williams, was commissioned for Musica Viva by Linda Matthews and Robin Budden in honour of their mothers. It was premiered at the Musica Viva Festival 2015, Sydney, by the Doric Quartet and Pavel Haas Quartet.  As well as marking the launch of the Hildegard Project, this piece won the 2016 Judith Lang Zaimont Prize of the International Alliance for Women in Music and was a finalist in the AMC/APRA Awards.

The First Movement, by Alice Chance, was  commissioned for Musica Viva by the Silo Collective. It received its premiere at a Musica Viva Sydney Coffee Concert, given by the Enigma Quartet.

String Quartet no 3, by Anne Boyd, was commissioned for Musica Viva by Geoff Stearn and with support from the Hildegard Project. It premiered at the 2015 Huntington Estate Music Festival, with the Orava Quartet.