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Britta Byström.

DETROIT, (July 30, 2015) – Swedish composer Britta Byström has been awarded the eighth annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). Byström, who was chosen from applicants worldwide, will compose a new work for orchestra that will be given its premiere in the 2016-17 season. In addition to concerts presenting her work, Byström will receive a $10,000 prize.

“I am very honored to receive the 8th Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award and I’m very much looking forward to composing a new piece for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,” Byström said. “The donor behind this award has found a new, unexpected way to influence the orchestral repertoire of the future, and I will do my very best to write music in the same spirit: new, unexpected and with a curiosity for the future.”

Byström was chosen by the following jury of DSO musicians and members of the music community: Joe Becker, Principal Percussion; Shannon Orme, clarinet; Una O’Riordan, cello; Evan Chambers, Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan; and Gabriela Lena Frank, DSO Music Alive Composer-in-Residence.

“Britta Byström writes music of great beauty, of imaginative color and texture, with compelling formal sweep and an engaging sense of the mysterious,” Chambers said. “She is a tremendously accomplished orchestral composer with control of all aspects of the medium, someone Detroit audiences will enjoy hearing!”

Lebenbom Award candidate Elena Ruehr earned honorable mention in the competition. Ruehr is an award-winning faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Guggenheim Fellow and has been a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Her work includes compositions for chamber ensemble, orchestra, chorus, wind ensemble, instrumental solo, opera, dance and silent film.

Last year’s winner Sarah Kirkland Snider’s new work will be given its premiere April 14-16, 2016 at Orchestra Hall under the direction of Giancarlo Guerrero. The work has not yet been named.

In addition to the performance at Orchestra Hall, winning works are webcast to a worldwide audience at, providing a global platform for the work of female composers.

About Britta Byström

Britta Byström was born in Sundsvall, Sweden in 1977 and began her musical career as a trumpet player. In her teens, she began to compose music and studied composition at the Royal University of Music in Stockholm 1995-2001, where her main teachers were Pär Lindgren and Bent Sørensen.

Byström has composed for most sizes of orchestras and contexts including chamber music, vocal music and opera, but the emphasis has been on orchestral music. Some of those who have performed her music are the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Gürzenich Orchestra, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the International Youth Wind Orchestra. In 2010, she was the subject of a ”weekend composer portrait” at the Stockholm Concert Hall, and in 2014 she was the Swedish Radio Orchestra’s “spring composer,” with several orchestral performances.

Among the works could be mentioned Der Vogel der Nacht, which was first performed by the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen during the Baltic Sea Festival in 2010 and the orchestral work Picnic at Hanging Rock, a tone poem inspired by Peter Weir’s film. Byström has described it as music with disappearance as a main motiv. The piece was awarded with the Christ Johnson prize in 2012. In 2014, the viola concerto A Walk After Dark received the da capo-prize at the Brandenburger Biennale.

During 2015, Byström has created a new stage work based on a Sami legend, which will premiere at the Canadian new music festival Soundstreams. LatByström is also one of the finalists in the composition contest “Feeding Music” in Milano. A new CD with her music, Invisible Cities, was nominated to a 2015 Swedish Grammy and selected as “the classical album of the year” in several magazines.

Byström’s music demonstrates a special attention to sound and sensitivity for the music’s resonance that could be described as impressionistic.

Byström’s music is published by Edition Wilhelm Hansen.

Enter the Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Competition

Details and submission deadlines for the ninth annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Competition for Female Composers will be announced this fall. The international competition, launched in 2006, is the only annual symphony orchestra sponsored award granted annually to a living female composer, of any age or nationality. Each year, one winner receives a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to have her original work premiered in the DSO’s Classical Subscription Series. The award is made possible by an anonymous donor. More information can be found at For questions, please contact Katherine Curatolo at [email protected].

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 will be judged by a committee formed by the DSO.

Previous Winners

The previous winners of the Lebenbom Competition are Stacy Garrop, Margaret Brouwer, Cindy McTee, Du Yun, Missy Mazzoli, Wang Jie and Sarah Kirkland Snider, respectively.

Last year’s winner,  Sarah Kirkland Snider’s recent and upcoming commissions/performances include ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Cantus, Colin Currie, Ensemble Signal, Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (CA), the Knights, North Carolina Symphony, NOW Ensemble, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Psappha (UK), Residentie Orkest Den Haag (NL), Roomful of Teeth, Volti, Shara Worden and yMusic. Her debut album Penelope was named to dozens of 2010 best-of lists worldwide including NPR, Time Out New York, WNYC, eMusic, textura, and Huffington Post. She released her second album, Unremembered, on New Amsterdam Records in fall 2014. Snider is Co-Director of Brooklyn-based record label and presenting organization, New Amsterdam Records/Presents.

The Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award was inspired by composer, teacher, poet, artist and lecturer Elaine Lebenbom, a resident of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who died in 2002. The DSO has premiered three of Lebenbom’s works. Kaleidoscope Turning  received its world premiere under the direction of DSO Music Director Emeritus Neeme Järvi in 1997. Reflections on a Rainbow  and Gamatria were debuted in 2004 and 2007, respectively, both after the composer’s death.

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 chart-topping musicians from Smokey Robinson to Kid Rock. 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 now reaches tens of thousands of children with the new 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 more information visit the newly updated or download the free DSO to Go mobile app.



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