Singer-composer Shauna Beesley has been awarded the 2024 Willgoss Choral Composition Prize for her work, Journey.

Supported by Richard and Sue Willgoss, the prize recognises the work of rising composers and encourages them to create a lasting contribution to choral composition in Australia. Previous winners of the Prize include John Rotar, Oliver John Cameron, Philip Eames and Ronan Apcar. Beesley is the first female recipient of the prize.

Shauna Beesley. Photo supplied

“I am delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the recipient of this year’s Willgoss choral prize,” Beesley said. “Choirs change our lives: they alter our body’s chemistry, in a positive way, both in participating and listening. For me, choral singing is one of the human race’s highest achievements and most intricate forms of collaboration.”

Beesley’s Journey is based on a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay. It expresses dissatisfaction at being forced to race through life and failing to spend time and absorb the beauty that is around us.

“I wanted to capture, in music, a sense of longing that is constantly being forced to accelerate,” Beesley says. “In the poem Millay writes about cat birds...