An opera fueled by outrage over the imprisonment of asylum seeker children, which features growling and screaming to an unconventional score without musical notation, has been awarded Work of the Year: Dramatic category at the annual Art Music Awards, a top 2020 Art Music Awards honor.

Speechless, by Melbourne-based composer Cat Hope (CRF 2014), was inspired by the Human Rights Commission 2014 report The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry Into Children in Immigration Detention, and the response to it from some conservative parliamentarians and media.

Hope says Speechless aims to make audiences respond with empathy to children who lack someone to speak for them, and reflects her long-standing interest in making works with “long-form sounds, drones and texture”.

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