Mary Finsterer


Mary Finsterer is one of Australia’s most innovative orchestral composers and the Chair of Composition at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. Her opera, Biographica, was premiered at Sydney Festival 2017 by Sydney Chamber Opera and Ensemble Offspring to critical acclaim. Mary has won many awards in Europe, Britain, USA and Canada and represented Australia in five International Society for Contemporary Music festivals. Her work has been performed by many prestigious soloists and ensembles including Ensemble Intercontemporain, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Liaison, Sutherland Trio, Gerard Willems, Claire Edwardes & Ensemble Offspring, Kees Boersma, Natsuko Yoshimoto, Geoffrey Collins, David Pereira, The Song Company, Da Capo Chamber Players, Het Trio, Ensemble Modern, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, The New Juilliard Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Asko Ensemble, Ictus Ensemble, De Volharding and the Arditti String Quartet.Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Queensland Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony and Western Australia Symphony Orchestras.

She has also been a winner and finalist in numerous awards in Australia including the APRA AMCOS ART Music Awards with her pieces ‘Falling’, ‘Aerea’, ‘Lake Ice (Missed Tales No.1)’ and ‘Darkest Light’. In 2009 Mary was the winner of the Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for her new work premiered by ASKO│Schönberg in Amsterdam, ‘In Praise of Darkness’. in 2012 ‘Silva’ featured in the Ensemble Offspring program at the Sydney Opera House before touring nationally and China. Her award–winning orchestral music spanning more than 10 years from 1991 to 2002 can be heard on the double–disc compilation entitled CATCH, on the ABC Classics|Universal label. Mary’s score for Shirley Barrett’s feature South Solitary has also been released on ABC Classics|Universal.

Composer website:

Featured Works

Tract, for solo cello

The title of Tract for solo cello (1993) might suggest is a particularly hardline, forthright piece, and to a degree that’s true. But there’s another meaning implicit in the title. One talks of a ‘tract of land’, and here, there’s the underlying idea of a journey. ~ a journey that is constantly returning to its point of origin. This is reflected in the composer’s fascination with the many different places on the cello strings that produce the same note (through harmonics), as well as in the constant returns – after and in the midst of frantic activity – to the cello’s open strings.

NB. This porgramme note is adapted from the programme notes by Richard Toop from the CD Catch, released on the label ABC Classics|Universal in 2004.

Featured in Spotify Waves – February 2017 (1/02/2017)