Composing the Future

Winner Announced

Congratulations Colin Spiers

Composer/pianist, Colin Spiers, has been awarded the top prize in our new composition competition, Composing the Future. This is a new initiative by the Piano+ with support from Creative Partnerships Australia Plus 1. 

Applications called for Australian composers during the second half of 2021, inviting them to submit a new or unpublished solo piano piece for consideration by a panel of eminent Australian pianists – Tamara Anna Cislowska, Kristian Chong Daniel de Borah, Bernadette Harvey and Ian Munro. The panel, chaired by Piano+’s Artistic Director, Piers Lane AO, had a difficult task ahead of them as they listened and played through all 94 submissions which were supplied to the jury without the composers’ names. 

Piers Lane said, ‘It is extraordinary to think there are now almost a hundred new Australian piano pieces available as a result of this competition. The range of styles was striking – something for everyone – and I hope many of the works will find performers and listeners in the near future.’ 

Queensland born, with a teaching career in New South Wales, but now resident in Victoria, Colin Spiers was awarded the first prize of $20,000 with his winning composition titled ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, which is a work inspired by a surrrealist painting. It’s in four movements, just under twenty minutes in length and is dazzling pianistically. Mr Spiers’ work will receive a world premiere by Italian/Slovenian pianist Alexander Gadjiev, the winner of the 2021 Sydney International Online Piano Competition, during his national tour in October and November this year. Click here to book. 

Mr Spiers said, ‘I would like to say what an honour it has been to receive an award in the inaugural Composing the Future. As a pianist I have always been passionate about the instrument and in expanding its already considerable repertoire. So that the opportunity this competition has provided and its close links with the Sydney International Piano Competition have been an extremely important one for the instrument’s continuing evolution both in Australia and internationally in the 21st Century.’ 

‘I would like to stress that, while winning competitions is a great boost for one’s sense of self worth, in this case the opportunity that the award provides to have ones music performed by a world class pianist and actually be heard by a wider audience is even more important.’ 

Click here to read more about Colin Spiers. 

Five other entries were awarded cash prizes of $2,000 each and will be given public performances by the jury pianists during 2022, to mark the 45th anniversary of the Sydney International Piano Competition. For performance dates, please check our website here. 


First Prize Winner – Acceptance Video

A message from Piers Lane AO

About the Competition

Piano+ has a history of commissioning renowned Australian composers to write works to be played by all competitors in the Competition. In 2016, Artistic Director Piers Lane AO decided, while making the performance of an Australian work the only compulsory requirement in the solo rounds of the Sydney International Piano Competition (The Sydney), to make the choice of that work entirely the competitors’ own, hoping that a wider range of Australian works would be explored and performed, meaning greater variety for broadcast and internet streaming and an ensuing better knowledge of the range of Australian music for home and international audiences. He also hoped that, if competitors researched and learned a work of their own choosing, they would be encouraged to continue performing the work long after the competition itself. An example of the success of this approach is the American pianist Lindsay Garritson: her discovery of Carl Vine’s  Toccatissimo in 2016 (coincidentally composed as a commission for an earlier Sydney) led to her commissioning his fourth Sonata and  subsequently recording an entire cd of his music. 

The aims of the Composing the Future project are manifold: to continue the tradition Piano+ encouraging new Australian piano compositions, albeit in a new way; to enlarge the Australian repertoire for solo piano; to encourage composers to write works appealing to performers for whatever reason; to encourage composers to write for a medium that allows for easily achieved repeat performances and access to international audiences; and to encourage performers to support the composers of their own time. 

It is hoped that works previously commissioned by Piano+ may be published as an iconic collection at some point. It is envisaged that the successful pieces from the current project would also be published in such a venture. 


Kristian Chong
One of Australia’s leading pianists, Kristian Chong has performed throughout Australia and the UK, and in China, France, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, and Zimbabwe.
Tamara Anna Cislowska
Tamara Anna Cislowska is one of Australia’s most renowned, ARIA award-winning pianists, performing and recording in Australia and internationally to critical and public acclaim.
Piers Lane AO
Artistic Director - Sydney International Piano Competition
Piers Lane AO is the Artistic Director of the Sydney International Piano Competition. 2016 was the first year with Piers at the creative helm, and his enthusiasm, skills and sheer musical ability bring exciting changes.
Ian Munro
Ian Munro has emerged over recent years as one of Australia’s most distinguished and awarded musicians, with a career that has taken him to thirty countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia.
Daniel de Borah
Daniel de Borah is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost musicians, consistently praised for the grace, finesse and imaginative intelligence of his performances.
Dr Bernadette Harvey
Bernadette Harvey is Senior Lecturer in Piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. An acclaimed international performer and teacher, she was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2000 by then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, for her contribution to Australian Music.

Prize Winners

Justin Williams
Justin Williams holds the position of Assistant Principal Viola with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and is the founding violist of the Tinalley String Quartet (TSQ).
Martin Lass
Martin Lass is a classical and classical crossover violinist and composer. After studying at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney—violin with John Gould, Robert Pikler, and Lim Kek Tjiang and composition with Ross Edwards and Edwin Carr—he played with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in its early years, was a principle player in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, and played with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for over fifteen years.
Colin Spiers
Brisbane-born pianist Colin Spiers studied at the Q’ld Conservatorium of Music where he graduated with its medal for excellence in 1979.
Tristan Coelho
Tristan Coelho is a Sydney-based composer who writes music largely inspired by nature or our digital, data-driven world. Project highlights include Hokusai Mixtape for flute, viola, harp and live electronics toured by Contra Concerts in 2021; Rhythm City, for piano, live video sampler and electronics performed by Zubin Kanga; Smell of the Earth, commissioned for the Canberra International Music Festival and performed by Tambuco Percussion; read/write error, commissioned by Ensemble Offspring and finalist in the APRA Art Music Awards, and an interactive music soundscape walk inspired by the local surrounds of Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains created in collaboration with harpist Emily Granger.
Sam Wu
Sam Wu’s music deals with the beauty in blurred boundaries. Many of his works center around extra-musical themes: architecture and urban planning, climate science, and the search for exoplanets that harbor life.
Peggy Polias
Peggy Polias is a composer, music engraver, curator and arts professional residing and working on Darug land in Sydney. She is currently undertaking a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

1. Eligibility

  1. The Composing the Future Competition is open to experienced Australian composers or permanent residents of any age

2. Jury

  1. Artistic Director Piers Lane AO will be non-voting Chairman of the Jury.
  2. A jury of five eminent Australian concert pianists will be assembled.
  3. Names of jury members will be published on the website as confirmed

3. Supporting Documents

  1. All documents must be submitted online at the time of application
  2. Brief biography of no less than 150 words and no more than 500 words
  3. Copy of current Australian passport, birth certificate or Australian Residency card, clearly showing all personal details
  4. Current professional photographs. Must be 300dpi resolution. Colour versions only are required

4. Online Applications

  1. Applications open Tuesday 1 June 2021
  2. Applications close Friday 10 December 2021 at midday AEDT
  3. A non-refundable application fee of AUD $110 is payable online
  4. Applications must be made online at
  5. Once applications are submitted NO changes can be made
  6. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted
  7. All scores must be notated using electronic software and submitted as PDFs. No hand written scores will be accepted.
  8. All scores must be submitted anonymously. The composer’s name must not appear anywhere on the score.
  9. The applicant may choose to submit a digital recording of the score
  10. The Piano+ Office reserves the right to request additional information as required
  11. All supporting documents must be uploaded and submitted at the time of application
  12. Supporting documents will be used to promote Composing the Future in printed and electronic forms.
  13. The applicant grants to Piano+ the right to use, for the purposes of the Composing the Future Competition, any and all submitted documents supplied during the application process and any additional materials requested, free of any rights, fees or charges.

5. Competition Rules

  1. Entrants must submit a new or unpublished work, never previously performed publicly, recorded or broadcast in any form, for solo piano.
  2. Entrants may submit more than one work, but an entry fee is payable for each submission.
  3. The suggested duration is between 10 and 20 minutes, though there is no minimum or maximum timing requirement.
  4. The piece may be in any style and form – a set of preludes, a set of variations, a four-movement sonata, a fantasy on a well-known theme, a virtuoso transcription, an étude or a set of études – all and more are possible, but the work should not require electronics or a prepared piano for performance.
  5. Any applicant who knowingly gives inaccurate or misleading information will be disqualified.

6. Prizes

  1. Announcement of winners will be made Tuesday 1 February 2022.
  2. Composing the Future is supported through an innovative matched fundraising partnership with Creative Partnerships Australia.
  3. Full listing of cash prizes will be made public on Tuesday 1 June 2021 following the outcome of the Creative Partnership Australia fundraising period.
  4. In addition to a cash prize the winning piece will be presented as an award to the winner of the 2021 Sydney International Online Piano Competition. It is intended that the piece receive its premiere during the winner’s 2022 Australian national tour.
  5. Up to five other compositions receiving top commendations from the panel may be awarded a cash prize. These pieces will receive performances during 2022 from the pianists/jurors who select them.

7. Voting

Voting procedures will be detailed here in due course.

8. Broadcast and Performance Rights

  1. The applicant grants to Piano+ the right to the first performance of a prize-winning work.
  2. Subject to, if applicable, such rights being held by the Australasian Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), the applicant grants to Piano+ the rights free of royalties to include their work in any recital/s by either the 2021 winner of the Sydney International Online Piano Competition or a Composing the Future pianist jury member in their 2022 program/s.
  3. The applicant grants to Piano+ the right to add a dedication to the work.
  4. The applicant retains all commercial publication rights to their work, but grants to Piano+ the rights free of royalties to include their work in any collection of works commissioned by Piano+, for the purpose of promoting the competition(s), and/or the Arts in Sydney, Australia and Internationally
  5. Subject to the prior rights of the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and, if applicable, AMCOS, the applicant grants to Piano+ the right to film, the applicant grants to Piano+ broadcast rights to film, photograph, record, broadcast, live stream, reproduce, transmit, play, show and/or televise as part of a film, online series/platform or television documentary for the purpose of promoting the current and future competition(s), and/or the Arts in Sydney, Australia and Internationally

9.  Taxation

  1. All prize monies are taxable under the Australian Taxation Office

10. Interpretation

  1. Any interpretation or disputes arising in any part will be read as the rules and conditions contained on the official website which Piano+ reserves the right to review from time to time
  2. The Jury’s decision is final and binding
  3. There will be no appeal process and no correspondence will be entered into
  4. The law applicable to the Piano+ and contractual and other rights shall be the law of the State of New South Wales, Australia

Composing the Future is supported by Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus 1