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Mary Finsterer
photo: Dean Golja

Mary Finsterer

Country of origin: Australia
Birthday: August 25, 1962

About Mary Finsterer

Mary Finsterer is recognised as one of Australia’s finest composers. Having received international recognition for her music in Europe, Britain, USA and Canada, Mary has received many awards both nationally and abroad including representing Australia in five International Society for Contemporary Music Festivals and the prestigious Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize, as well as receiving numerous Australian Art Music Awards throughout her career. In 2015 she was the featured composer in the ABC Classic FM Pedestal Programme and has been the celebrated artist for several portrait concerts including ANAM Australian Voices in 2016 and the Sydney Opera House by Ensemble Offspring in 2012, who subsequently toured her music throughout Australia and China.

Also composing music for feature film, Mary composed music alongside Marco Beltrami in the Hollywood blockbuster Die Hard 4 and in 2011 her score for Shirley Barrett’s feature South Solitary was recognised in the Film Critics Circle Australia Awards and has been released on ABC Classics|Universal. Mary has also been the recipient of many prestigious residencies and fellowships including the Churchill Fellowship in 2006, Australia Council Composer Fellowship, Royal Netherlands Government Award and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence.

Mary's first opera Biographica, was premiered by Sydney Chamber Opera and Ensemble Offspring at the Sydney Festival in January 2017 with exceptional success. Having enjoyed a sold-out season, it was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences alike and described as 'an outstanding new opera that deserves a permanent place in the repertory’. 

In 2018 Mary was the composer-in-residence at the Canberra International Music Festival where her new work for viola d’amore and cello entitled Ignis was premiered. Mary has received two Australian Apra|Amcos Art Music Awards in as many years: Art Music Award 2018 – Vocal Work of the Year for her opera, Biographica, and Art Music Award 2019 – Instrumental Work of the Year for Ignis.

Mary's latest chamber opera, Antarctica, was premiered Sydney Chamber Opera and Asko|Schönberg Ensemble at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam in 2022 and at Sydney Festival in 2023 to critical acclaim and a sold-out season.  It was enthusiastically described as ‘ambitious and exquisite’, ‘an achievement of extraordinary beauty’ and ‘an astonishing new vision of what contemporary Australian opera can achieve.’  As with Biographica, the libretto was written by Tom Wright.

Since 1998 Mary has been a member of various regional, national and international advisory boards and adjudication panels of organisations including the Music Board, Australia Council for the Arts, The Melbourne Prize Trust, Soundstream Festival Young Composers’ Award, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Arts NSW, De Ereprijs International Young Composers’ Meeting (The Netherlands), De Internationale Gaudeamus Muziekweek (The Netherlands) and the International Composition Contest Forum – Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Montréal Canada). She is currently the Lead Mentor and Artistic Advisor for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s  Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers' Program.

Mary is the composer–in–residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2023 and is the CALE Creative Fellow at the College of Arts, Law and Education, University of Tasmania.

For more information: www.maryfinsterer.com