2018 Awardee: Maria Donohue

"Without the support of the award I would not have been able to attend this life changing experience"


From Brooklyn, New York, Maria is a pianist, improviser, and artist.

Maria studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she gained a First Class Honours Degree and a Masters. She went on to study a PhD at Huddersfield University under the EHRC funded project IRiMaS, researching the psychophysiological responses in group free improvisation.

Maria has performed in numerous concerts in America at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre, The Lotus Club and The Brooklyn College of Music. In the UK she has performed widely, including at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Centre for Contemporary Arts, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

The core of her work is a focus on audience. For Maria, expanding, adapting, and altering the possibilities for the audiences of live works is of utmost importance for the future of all artistic practices.  She is specifically interested in experimentations in inter-disciplinary collaborations, looking to create new possibilities for merging and adapting artistic spheres. Because of these interests, much of her work utilises improvisation to both devise and question the successful impact of her mixed artistic practice, hoping to adapt to audiences and scenarios. In her improvisations, whether sonic, visual or movement based, Maria looks to uncover and imitate the root of communication.

In her quest for inter-disciplinary experimentations, Maria is part of a number of ensembles and collaborative groups. She has worked with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, Tonotopy, a collaboration on image to sound with visual artist Gino Ballantyne, and is also a Founding member of the young artist collective EAST (Experimental Artists Social Theatre) for interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge. Maria has won several awards including the Governors Recital Prize and the New Piano Stars competition. She has worked with leading improvising practitioners such as Phil Minton, Anton Pet and Trever Watts.

How the Award Helped

Maria’s Award allowed her to travel to Australia and participate in the Australian Art Orchestras CMI (Creative Music Intensive). She presented a paper and performed at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. The residency helped Maria to extend her learning of musical traditions outside of her western classical background – a crucial opportunity to immerse herself in learning outside of her expertise and develop her skills as a PhD candidate, performer and teacher.

"Without the support of the award I would not have been able to attend this life changing experience"