Workshopping a new composition with one of Australia’s top chamber ensembles is no mere pipe dream for emerging talents Natalie Nicolas, Clare Johnston and Ella Macens. Alumni of the Sydney Conservatorium’s inaugural National Women Composers Development Program, they’ve just spent the last few days working with the Flinders Quartet and acclaimed composer Mary Finsterer on exciting new pieces to be premiered at a professionally recorded and livestreamed performance this Tuesday.

Composers in the Con’s NWCDP: Ella Macens, Elizabeth Younan, Clare Johnston, and Natalie Nicolas. Photo © Rahkela Nardella.

Taking place in Melbourne, workshops have been open to the public and have taken place over eight days. Although each composer is allowed to workshop just one piece, Natalie Nicolas has been lucky enough to have two works included this year, both of them world premieres. She explains that her piece Exhale is inspired “by the regimen of the last two years of my career and the necessity to breathe and pause for cathartic liberation from the often overwhelmed life we live”. It’s a work that she evocatively describes as languid, with soft and long melodies that enable listeners to “relax into the depth of the strings”.

Her second work,...