2018    APRA|AMCOS Art Music Award for Vocal Work [Winner]

2016    APRA|AMC Art Music Award for Orchestral Work [Finalist]

2016    Australian National Academy of Music AUSTRALIAN VOICES [Honour]

2015    ISCM World Music Days, Slovenia [Honour]

2015    ABC Classic FM: Pedestal Artist [Honour]

2014    APRA|AMC Art Music Award for Instrumental Work [Winner]

2014    APRA|AMC Art Music Award for Orchestral Work of the Year [Finalist]

2013    APRA|AMC Art Music Award for Instrumental [Finalist]

2012    New Opera Ventures Australia [Winner]

2011    Film Critics Circle Australia [Finalist]

2010    The (Sydney) Magazine’s TOP 100 most influential people [Honour]

2009    Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize [Winner]

2009    Composer–in–Residence at Campbelltown Performing Arts Centre

2010    ISCM World Music Days, Croatia [Honour]

2006    Churchill Fellowship

2001    Ensemble Intercontemporain & Ircam, France [Winner]

1999    Ensemble Modern, Germany [Commission]

1998    Australia Council Composer Fellowship

1998    ISCM World Music Days, England [Honour]

1995    ISCM World Music Days, Germany [Honour]

1993    Royal Netherlands Government Award (Nuffic Foundation)

1992    The International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) [Finalist]

1992    ‘Music Lives!’ Pittsburgh USA [Commission]

1992    Composer-in-residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra

1991    ISCM World Music Days, Switzerland [Honour]

1991    Forum 91, Canada [Winner]

1991    Albert H. Maggs Award [Commission]

1991    Ian Potter Award [ Commission]

1991    Alfred S. White Bequest [Winner]

1989    ‘Let’s Celebrate OZ Music’ Orchestral Award, Australia [Commission]

1989    National Orchestral Composers' School (NOCS) Queensland Symphony Orchestra [Commission]

1988    Dorian Le Gallienne Award [Commission]

1987    Ormond Exhibition Academic Award [Winner]






‘Inventive, engaging, stimulating and moving, Biographica is an outstanding new opera. 

It deserves regular performances as well as a permanent place in the repertory.’

'Biographica’s complex yet crystalline textures, evocative instrumental colours, intricate rhythms and Renaissance-inspired vocal writing resulted in an absorbing, appealing sound-world…’

The Australian, 9 January 2017


'Finsterer's ear for original, dramatically appropriate instrumental and vocal combinations and the way musical processes intersect with mathematical ones, are a collision of the sensual and the rational.'

'Finsterer's score recreates the Renaissance sound world with modern musical codes, using imaginative instrumentation, scattered modernist textures, and instrumental figuration to animate, transform and sometimes subvert the glistening vocal sororities.

Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 2017


‘Finsterer’s score thrums with energy throughout, making this a worthy addition to the Australian operatic canon.’ 

Limelight Magazine, 8 January 2017


 ‘Finsterer draws deep from the medieval minstrel origins of Renaissance music, but links up with intervening periods and contemporary art music styles, delivering highly appealing yet substantive fabrics for every scene. It succeeds paradoxically by being both palatable and unsettling, like the tale it carries. A triumphant level of achievement...'

'... an exemplary achievement for the Sydney Festival: new, fresh high art that will be enjoyed by a wider audience than any accountant would have predicted.’

TimeOut, 10 January 2017


‘Mary Finsterer has managed a musical melange that crosses effortlessly and delightfully from the Renaissance to today which makes Biographica the most musically successful of the young Sydney Chamber Opera's commissions.’

Bachtrack, 9 January 2017


'...a major new work by one of our finest living composers…Biographica is full of lovely colours, both dramatic and subtle. The result is captivating, intelligent, and theatrically powerful.'

'Biographica is a beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking work from an important composer of our time.’

Partial Durations / Real time, 12 January 2017


'...thank goodness for opera, thank goodness for composer Mary Finsterer and thank goodness for the many hands which came together to make this palimpsest of sights, sounds, words and music.' 

Harry Fiddler, 8 January 2017


‘[With] meticulous craftsmanship in her toolkit, Mary Finsterer’s opera is a vote of confidence in the mainstream appeal of new music.’

Financial Times, 10 January 2017


'Mary Finsterer's CATCH - it's title suggesting a lively game or perhaps recalling one of the generic terms for the light-hearted songs from the 17th to the 19th centuries - was notable for its energy.  Catch was an encouraging reminder that new music can sound uncompromisingly cheerful.'

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1994


'Energy levels increased and concentration was more focused with Mary Finsterer's Constans. This remarkable work, premiered at this year's Adelaide Festival, covered familiar Finsterer territory: static harmonic fields, explosions of filigree and was, in its sheer physicality, often powerfully reminiscent of the work of composers like Luciano Berio and Iannis Xenakis.' 

The Age, 29 May 1996


'Constans by Mary Finsterer, tested the technical skills of the ensemble.  It is a highly focused and intense work, direct and powerful in its impact.'

Herald Sun, 29 May 1996


‘The several audio-visual elements and interrelationships were always in harmony and logical…a beautiful and fascinating collaboration of talented artists.’ 

Ura - Vjesnik, 26 April 1999


'With In Praise of Darkness by the Australian composer Mary Finsterer, her work was immediately drawing in one’s attention as she explored the mind of Borges in his state of blindness, a place surging with pastel colours. Finsterer created a soft insisting and dovetailing composition, a poetic and dusky inner world placed in a reddish blaze of orange lights.' 

De Volkskrant, Amsterdam 25 April 2009


'Finsterer applied [extended techniques for the flute] with haunting effect in Ether, no more so than in the stratospheric whisper tones that open and close the work.  Herein lies the reference of the title: perhaps this is what the music of the spheres may sound like.  The more earthbound regions of the piece, anchored to the flute’s lowest note, provide a launching pad for the composer’s sonic missions.  Geoffrey Collins, whose artistry has occasioned so much new Australian music for solo flute, was both the dedicatee and authoritative exponent of this impressive piece.’ 

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2000


 ‘Mary Finsterer’s Falling is a beautifully wrought musical depiction of autumnal leaves...engrossing’ 

The Australian, 16 October 2012


 ‘The world premiere of Mary Finsterer’s Kurz was a welcome relief.  Layers of reiterated instrumental effects [provided] an interesting evolution from muted backdrop to a delineated percussive texture.’ 

The Canberra Times, 23 May 2000


'Based on Samuel Beckett's radio play, RADIO 1, this 1988 score requires the singer to sing in a low, halting style as a male character (he) and with melismatic exuberance as a female (she)... a piece full of spectacular vocal turmoil.'

Sydney Morning Herald 9 August 1994


'Mary Finsterer, a very active Melbourne composer opened the programme with the first performance of her NEXTWAVE FANFARE, written to honour the NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL.  This short work proved to be angular, spiky, enjoyably energetic, and seriously hyperactive.'

The Age, 26 May 1992

'Finsterer’s Nextwave Fanfare is more a driving movement than a mere fanfare.

The Sun-Herald, 7 June 1992



'The work that jumped, metaphorically, out of the playing area was Mary Finsterer's NYX, a score that measured itself out in peremptory jerks over an insistent metrical grid.  It's invention was profuse and, at the same time, delivered punctually within regular, strictly defined spasms.  The Alpha organisation must have assumed that it would make the biggest impression of the evening, placing it last on the programme and giving it's rather enigmatic title, NYX, to the recital as a whole. It had a rolling momentum that could be received as truculent or eupeptic depending on the listener's mood.  I love it...'  

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 1997


'Best for the evening for my taste was Mary Finsterer's setting of a poem by Jacinta Le Plastrier (13th Station): intricate but hard-hitting music which didn't just depend on atmosphere of rhetorical gestures.'

The Sydney Review, May 1993


'Mary Finsterer's Omaggio alla Pieta evoked tribal primitivism with refreshing originality, featuring an alto solo with folk inspired tone quality, accompanied by percussion textures from the rest of the choir and some real percussion as well.'    

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 1993


'...Pascal’s Sphere (Part I) by Australian Mary Finsterer, is based on metaphysics... the sounds of the whirling celesta, futurist horn calls and blast-off figures from the cello and bass were stunning.’ 

The Times Los Angeles, 7 October 1998


'Australian Mary Finsterer’s glistening sound study Pascal’s Sphere (Part I) rounded out the programme:  lively, provocative, performed with evangelical intensity...'  

Los Angeles Weekly, 16 October 1998


'Australian composer Mary Finsterer, a winner in the NEM’s first Forum in 1991, has given us another fascinating work:  Pascal’s Sphere (Part I).  The reference to the mathematician and thinker manifests itself here in a vast, disquieting kaleidoscope with the intermingling of the Celeste and metallic keyboards.  And that’s only the beginning: the composer is preparing a second version twice as long that the NEM will premiere in Australia in the year 2000.’

La Presse, 15 October 1998


‘On the virtuosic concert side, this time with the use of the Celeste, was developed to great advantage by the Australian Mary Finsterer. Drouin (Celeste player of the NEM) must spin out perpetual spirals of notes over which are added groups of instruments, led by the percussion, in as many moments, rhythms in a short, sparkling construction of undeniable form.  The piece will be completed in the year 2000, and we are eagerly awaiting the final result.’

La Devoir, 15 October 1998


'A John Bishop commission world premiere, Finsterer’s multi-media Pascal’s Sphere(complete work) was an impressive achievement; a large-scale, densely textured, high-octane work with ... images firing the imagination ... uncompromising quality.’ 

Adelaide Advertiser, 14 March 2000



'Concerning the creation of a truly novel sonority, one can say that the three composers were equally successful, although with different means and results...Mary Finsterer however has an advantage over her two colleagues: of the three works, it is hers which remains the best. Finsterer has an idea and the means to achieve it, with colour, with rhythm; her music captivates from beginning to end.  In my opinion, she merited the first prize.'

La Presse, Montreal3 December 1991



'The most surprising and "un-Andriessen-like" work was RUISSELANT from the Australian composer Mary Finsterer.  The title of the piece ('streaming') has to be understood as a metaphor for a bigger form, because the direct surface is kaleidoscopic, fierce and rebellious, nearly aggressive so that the music is more like a rapid.  But Finsterer has this turbulent material completely in her power and it is remarkable that her stay in Holland has not created more sensation.'

De Volkskrant, Amsterdam 17 March 1995


'...However, to never shoot means to never hit, and it can be fittingly stated that the chamber orchestra really 'hit it' in Mary Finsterer's RUISSELANT, filled with thundering rocks, festive bells ringing and the delicate sounds of strings.'

Trouw, AmsterdamHolland 17 March 1995



'The works of Mary Finsterer (1962) and Julia Wolfe (1958) were the highlights.  These composers soared head and shoulders above the minimalistic mainstream music of their male colleagues.  Finsterer's expression of streams of thought in RUISSELANT with rapid successions of short, but powerful sound explosions had the power...'

Utrechts Nieuwsbald, UtrechtHolland 18 March 1995


‘Mary Finsterer’s Spherica I tuned into the idiomatic sound of violin harmonics, passed between the players in circular fashion with floating rhythms to create a serene, ungrounded ethereal quality.'

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 2008


'...TRACT is one of a set of pieces edited in an anthology by Pereira and sets the player muscle-tiring challenges for the left hand while keeping the right hand ultra-busy with fiercely aggro bowing.  Pereira correctly judged its strong effect and it's need to be placed, as a truly lively event at the end of the programme.'

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October1993


'Finsterer's TRACT is furiously energetic, flashing with colour and detail, trenchant, repetitive and wild.  It's a rollercoaster of a piece.'

ABC RADIO, 24 HOURS, September Issue 1996