Winners of the International Composition Competition NEUE SZENEN VII

Neue Szenen VI - Exposed © Astrid Ackermann

The winners of the International Composition Competition NEUE SZENEN, which was held for the seventh time in cooperation with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, have been announced. Huihui Cheng (composition) and Guiliana Kiersz (libretto), Zara Ali (composition) and Hannah Dübgen (libretto) as well as Haukur Þór Harðarson (composition) have been commissioned to compose music theatre works that will be premiered in April 2025 in the Tischlerei, the experimental venue of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

This year, composers alone as well as teams of composer and author were invited to apply for the NEUE SZENEN. They submitted at least one expressive work, on the basis of which the commissions for a total of three music theatre works will be awarded.

By 31 July 2023,155 valid applications had been received, more than half of them from European and non-European countries. In several steps, the jury - Prof. Sarah Nemtsov (composer), Uljana Wolf (writer), Peter Meiser (Head of Vocal Studies, Hanns Eisler University of Music Berlin), Sebastian Hanusa (dramaturge, Deutsche Oper Berlin) and Prof. Claus Unzen (director, Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin) - determined the most interesting and promising among the submitted works. The prize winners will receive libretto and composition commissions for three music theatre works, which will be premiered as a three-part music theatre evening in April 2025 in the Tischlerei, staged, sung and performed by students of the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music Berlin.

Prize Winners New Scenes VII

Huihui Cheng, born in China in 1985, is a composer who focuses on the field of "theatrically expanded composition" by discovering the visual aspects of music and charging sound with theatrical meaning to enhance and expand the expressive potential of music. Cheng experiments with different materials, costumes, movements, expanded objects, lighting, etc. To bring in intermedial elements, she makes use of dance, performance and video installation. All these means of expression aim at communication as the central theme of her artistic work: communication between performers, between people and machines, and with the audience.

Huihui Cheng studied composition with Guoping Jia at the Central Conservatory in Beijing and with Caspar Johannes Walter at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart. In 2015/16 she took courses with Héctor Parra and Grégoire Lorieux at IRCAM, Paris. She was a scholarship holder of the Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg, Schloss Wiepersdorf, Künstlerhaus Schöppingen, Camargo Foundation, Fondation Royaumont and the German Academy Rome Villa Massimo (Casa Baldi). She was an academician with the SWR Vokalensemble and the Akademie Musiktheater heute. Her works have been performed at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Munich Biennale, the Tongyeong International Music Festival in Korea, Wien Modern, the ECLAT Festival Neue Musik Stuttgart and rainy days in Luxembourg, among others. Huihui Cheng received the first prize at the International Isang Yun Composition Prize (2011) and the Giga-Hertz Production Prize of the ZKM Karlsruhe (2016). She released a portrait CD on WERGO / Contemporary Music 2020. Further information:

The Buenos Aires-born writer and librettist Giuliana Kiersz lives and works in Berlin. Her work deals with political and social issues such as the climate crisis, migration processes and the way postcolonial structures inscribe themselves in bodies. Her work is often based on field research and interviews, from which she develops text forms that talk about violence, love and trauma. Her plays have received several awards, including first place in the X. German Rozenmacher Prize, the third prize of the Dramaturgy Competition of the National Theatre Institute and the Translation Prize of the Maison Antoine Vitez.

Her work has been supported by numerous institutions, including the Akademie Schloss Solitude, the Theatertreffen, the Maxim Gorki Theatre, the Académie du Festival d' Aix and the Royal Court Theatre in London. Her texts have been translated into English, German, French, Portuguese and the Mayan language Tzotzil and published by Rara Avis Editorial, Libros del Rojas, Fondo Editorial ENSAD, Editorial INTeatro, Espejo Somos, Libros Drama, Solitude Editions / Archive Books and Editions Espaces 34. In 2021 and 2022, she was part of the Young Woman Opera Makers, organised by the Académie du Festival d'Aix and directed by Katie Mitchell. In the field of opera, she wrote the libretto for THE END OF THE WORLD (composition: Patricia Martínez, direction: Carmen C. Kruse), which was a finalist in the NOPERAS! 2021 competition, commissioned by CoCreations and co-produced with SWR Experimental Studio Freiburg and Centro Experimental del Teatro Colón Buenos Aires. Further information:

Zara Ali is a Frankfurt-based composer and multimedia artist. Her versatile musical style includes lively programmes, carefully woven microtonal harmonies, great attention to electroacoustic timbres and the translation of structural concepts (e.g. geometry, kinetics, temporality) into sound. Ali has been awarded the 2023 Gaudeamus Prize, the 2022 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Composition Prize, the 2022 Young Musicians Germany Special Prize, the Robert H. Burns Composition Prize and the JACK Studio Award. Her music has been performed at impuls Festival für zeitgenössische Musik, cresc Biennale für aktuelle Musik Frankfurt Rhein Main, Gaudeamus Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Seoul International Computer Music Festival, Archipel Festival and Royaumont Festival, among others. She was composer-in-residence for the IEMA Ensemble 2022/23. More information:

Hannah Dübgen was born in 1977. She studied philosophy, literature and musicology in Oxford, Paris and Berlin. She worked as a dramaturge at the theatre and wrote the texts of several internationally successful operas, e.g. MATSUKAZE (2011), a collaboration with composer Toshio Hosokawa and choreographer Sasha Waltz, nominated many times as "World Premiere of the Year". Her play "Gegenlicht" was nominated for the playwright's prize of the Stadttheater Klagenfurt in 2008. Hannah Dübgen's multiple award-winning debut novel "Strom" was published in 2013, followed by the novel "Über Land" (2016). Her works have been translated into several languages and supported with scholarships at home and abroad. Further information:

Composer Haukur Þór Harðarson's works explore the physicality of the space in which listening takes place. Through the transformations of sounds and resonances, he thereby explores the possibility of bringing the listener into close contact with acoustic space and perceived time. His music, which includes both acoustic and electroacoustic works, has been described as fragile, delicate, intense, concentrated and physical.

Haukur Þór Harðarson studied composition with Atli Ingólfsson at the Icelandic Academy of Arts and with Richard Ayres and Wim Henderickx at the Amsterdam Conservatory, followed by studies at the Instituut voor Sonologie at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He then took private lessons with Rebecca Saunders in Berlin.

His works have been performed by ensembles and musicians such as the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, ensemble mosaik, Trio Abstrakt, Elektra Ensemble, Ensemble Adapter, Departure Duo, Caput, Neon, Ensemble Recherche, the Neue Vocalsolisten, the Asko/Schönberg, Nieuw Ensemble, TAK, Quatuor Diotima, Siggi String Quartet, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, Marco Fusi, Jack Adler McKean, Sophie Fetokaki, Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, Sarah Saviet and Loadbang. He is part of the artistic direction of the Active Listening concert series and a member and co-founder of the composers' collective Errata.
Haukur Þór Harðarson lives and works as a freelance composer in Berlin. Further information: