<July 2019>


Juliet Palmer wins ninth annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers

DSO competition is only one of its type among major orchestras

Detroit, (November 15, 2017) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) today announced the winner of the ninth annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers: New Zealand-Canadian composer, sound artist, and performer Juliet Palmer.

"It is a huge thrill to receive the Elaine Lebenbom Award to create a new work for the DSO," says Palmer. "The Detroit Symphony is one of North America's most celebrated orchestras, known for artistic excellence, innovation, and for its deep connection to the community. I look forward to collaborating with the musicians and discovering new musical worlds together."

Palmer is currently the artistic director of Urbanvessel, a Toronto-based platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Her music has been featured around the world, from the Bang on a Can Festival in New York to the Adelaide Festival in Australia. Performers of her music include the Penderecki String Quartet, Trio Fibonacci, the Gryphon Trio, Toca Loca, Continuum, l’Orchestre Métropolitain, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and more.

The Lebenbom Award includes the commission of a new orchestral piece to be premiered by the DSO, a $10,000 cash prize, and a one-month residency at the Ucross Foundation, an artist’s retreat in northern Wyoming.

The competition, launched in 2006, is the only annual orchestra-sponsored award granted annually to a living female composer, of any age or nationality. The DSO received 71 competition entries from composers around the world. Palmer was chosen by a jury of DSO musicians and members of the Detroit music community.

See below for more information about the Lebenbom Award, including a list of previous winners.


About Juliet Palmer

New Zealand-Canadian composer Juliet Palmer has been described as a “post-modernist with a conscience” (The Listener) whose work “crosses so many genres as to be in a category of its own” (Toronto Star). She is currently the artistic director of Urbanvessel, a Toronto-based platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. She was the 2011-12 Creative New Zealand/Jack C. Richards composer-in-residence at the New Zealand School of Music and the 2012 composer-in-residence of Orchestra Wellington.

Selected recent works include Invicta, with text by Blackfoot Pikani spoken word artist Zaccheus Jackson (Signal Theatre and The National Youth Orchestra); Quarry for soprano Sarah Albu and Continuum (Touching Ground Festival); Boots, an interactive boudoir opera (Opera Peepshow); Singing River, a site-specific performance at the Wonscotonach/Don River (Aanmitaagzi, Native Earth, Evergreen and Pan Am Path); and Voice-Box (Harbourfront World Stage premiere and Fresh Ground commission). Upcoming works include collaborations with the Vancouver Symphony, pianist Stephen De Pledge, and mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau.

Based in Toronto since 1997, Palmer’s work has been featured around the world with performances at New York’s Lincoln Center, London’s Southbank Centre, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Bath International Festival, Voix Nouvelles France, Italy’s Angelica Festival, Evenings of New Music Bratislava, Musica Ficta Festival Lithuania, NYYD Festival Estonia, The Istanbul Festival, Soundculture Japan, the Adelaide Festival, the New Zealand International Arts Festival, and Canada’s Sound Symposium.

Palmer holds a PhD in composition from Princeton University and a Master of Music in performance, composition, and time-based art from Auckland University. Her teachers and mentors include Louis Andriessen, Jack Body, Phil Dadson, Michael Gordon, Eleanor Hovda, David Lang, Paul Lansky, Annea Lockwood, Meredith Monk, Steve Mackey, and Julia Wolfe.

About The Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award

The Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award was inspired by composer, teacher, poet, artist, and lecturer Elaine Lebenbom, a resident of Bloomfield Hills, MI, who died in 2002. Despite her talent as a composer, making a career was diffi­cult for Lebenbom: she faced overt sexism and discrimination in the musical field, often having pieces rejected or rescinded upon orchestras learning she was a woman. But she persisted, ultimately earning praise as both a composer and tireless advocate for women’s representation in the arts.

The Award was created in 2006 to honor Lebenbom’s memory, talent, and activism. To be considered for the award, participants must submit a resume; a completed application form; sample scores of up to three completed works, including one scored for full symphony; and supporting audio and/or video representation of at least one, preferably the symphonic work. Submitted entries are be judged by a committee formed by the DSO.

Previous winners of the award include, from first to most recent:

 - Stacy Garrop

 - Margaret Brouwer

 - Cindy McTee

 - Du Yun

 - Missy Mazzoli

 - Wang Jie

 - Sarah Kirkland Snider

 - Britta Byström

About the DSO

Hailed by The New York Times as “cutting edge,” the internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, visionary maestros, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an ardent commitment to Detroit. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the institution. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became the DSO’s 12th Music Director, endowed by the Kresge Foundation, in 2008. Acclaimed conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik serves as Principal Pops Conductor, while celebrated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the Detroit community, the DSO’s performance schedule includes Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, and Neighborhood concerts, and collaborations with high profile artists from Steven Spielberg to Ben Folds and Lang Lang. In July 2017, the DSO embarked on its first international tour in 16 years, making its debut in China and first visit to Japan in 19 years. A commitment to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast, and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.


For Press Inquiries, please contact:

Ben Breuninger
Public Relations Coordinator
bbreuninger@dso.org | 313.576.5196