16 December 2010

Daniel Manera freely admits that his acumen on the clarinet is restricted to playing Mary Had a Little Lamb - but that hasn't stopped him winning a prestigious national music prize.

The 24-year-old student from Sydney's southern suburbs topped 38 contenders from every State to claim this year's 101 Compositions Competition, which is an integral part of The Con's pioneering 101 Compositions for 100 Years project.

And he did it with a newly written six-minute work for clarinet and high hat cymbals!

"I wanted to produce a work that would be full of rhythm, but easily accessible and playable from an economic viewpoint," comments Manera, who is in his third year of an Honours Degree in Music Composition.

"The clarinet and the high hat is a pretty simple combo, but very portable and surprisingly very versatile. And I say that from a perspective of knowing enough technically to produce a duet but being a very average musician."

Indeed, Manera only took-up music studies at Wollongong TAFE after faring poorly in high school exams.

"I played a bit of bass guitar and so when I didn't have the school results to pursue a trade I figured I would try music."

Manera turned to Wollongong-based senior teacher Michael Barkl to guide development of his composition skills, then studied with Dr Michael Smetanin, Chair of Composition at The Con, for a year before gaining a place for his degree course.

"I wanted to shape music myself, to have a say in what can be played rather than relying on existing music - and both Michaels have helped me make that possible," he said.

"Winning the 101 prize is just such a's a step-up that I thought would be great but wouldn't really happen."

Manera receives $2,000; the work will be performed at a major concert as part of next year's 101 Compositions schedule; and the performance will be recorded for radio broadcast.

The 101 Compositions project is commissioning new works nationally and internationally every year through to the Conservatorium's centenary year of 2015.

The project was initiated in 2008 by the Dean and Principal of The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Professor Kim Walker, and the project's patron and founder of Ars Musica Australis, Father Dr Arthur Bridge.

Next year's schedule of 101 performances will feature the work of international marquee composer Michael Nyman and a new composition by Australian Queen of Jazz Judy Bailey.

Elena Kats-Chernin will be a National Marquee composer in residence but her new commissioned work will not premier until 2013.

"The 101 Compositions Competition aims to broaden the involvement of young music scholars, in what is a project of meaning and significance for Australian and world music," said Professor Walker.

"In encouraging and enticing tertiary student composers to come forward year on year through to 2015, we are ensuring that we unearth some magical works that will add to the special quality of the overall scheme."

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

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