Winner of the Willgoss Choral Composition Prize: John Rotar

john rotar headshot
John Rotar, Composer

Music Performance UNSW is delighted to announce John Rotar as the winner of the 2023 Willgoss Choral Composition Prize for his work, Songs about birds, forests, flowers and mountains.

Since 2017, Dr Richard and Sue Willgoss generously sponsor this annual prize for Australian composers to be celebrated within their community, and to cultivate a lasting contribution to choral composition in Australia.

This year, there were many strong applications of extremely high standard in composition, exemplifying excellence of craft, musical sophistication and stylistic interest. We give thanks to our adjudication panel, chaired by Sonia Maddock (UNSW’s Head of Culture and Choral Director), and to the many composers who submitted their diverse compositions.

Songs about birds, forests, flowers and mountains will be premiered by UNSW’s chamber choir, Corde in October 2023.

About Songs about birds, forests, flowers and mountains

On surface level, Songs about birds, forests, flowers and mountains act as a window into the world of a vibrant, nature-filled, tropical Central America. The text is three short poems from 'Cuicapeuhcáyotl' or 'Cantares Mexicanos', a collection of Aztec poetry originally written in classical Nahuatl. Beneath the nature-filled imagery, however, dwells a profound sense of joy and wonder for love, life and philosophical thought, a universal experience Rotar hopes to convey through his music.

About John Rotar

John Rotar's music has been performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Opera Queensland, Southern Cross Soloists, Australian Youth Orchestra, Queensland Youth Orchestras and many others. His work has garnered numerous awards, including the 2021 Cybec 21st Century Composers’ program, The ANAM Set, a finalist for the 2021 Queensland Music Award, and 2018 Künstlerhaus Boswil International choral composition competition. In 2022, John was named the inaugural composer in Opera Queensland’s Young Artist Program. He is also an active performer and is the current Artistic Director and Conductor of The Australian Voices.