Symphony Nova Scotia announces fifth Maria Anna Mozart Award Recipient

Halifax/K’jipuktuk, NS – Symphony Nova Scotia is pleased to announce Matthew-John Knights has been selected as the fifth recipient of the Maria Anna Mozart Award for Canadian women and non-binary composers.

Matthew-John Knights (they/them) is a composer living and working in New Brunswick. Their music has been described as “Varèse on cocaine” (Mark Takeshi McGregor, 2022) and praised for its “militant gender fuckery” (Sarah Jo Kirsch, 2023). They studied composition with Dorothy Chang and Kelly-Marie Murphy, the Symphony’s inaugural Maria Anna Mozart Award recipient.

“Matthew-John’s writing is immediately sonically impactful and enticing,” says Symphony Nova Scotia Music Director Holly Mathieson. “From the first note, you feel like you need to know what happens next, and there’s a palpable sense of storytelling and theatre, which are themes we’ve been delving into recently in our repertoire.

“They also write so idiomatically for the orchestra – this is someone with exceptional compositional technique, who knows how to exploit the orchestra as an instrument to its full potential.”

Matthew-John is currently completing a Doctorate at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dorothy Chang, after completing a Master’s degree in Composition at the University of Ottawa.

While Matthew-John loves composing for a wide array of genres under the contemporary classical umbrella – including solo, chamber, and large orchestral works – they have a particular affinity towards creating works that combine music and theatre in non-traditional ways, creating a more immersive experience for the audience of the 21st century. In the age of iPhones, what can classical music offer to capture the interests of the common concert goer? For Matthew-John, the answer lies in combining music and theatre.

“Being chosen to compose for Symphony Nova Scotia as winner of the Maria Anna Mozart Award is such an exciting opportunity for me,” says Matthew-John. “I’m ecstatic to be able to compose for a symphony orchestra again. I am also very excited to share my journey as a non-binary composer through music with the members of the orchestra and the Maritimes in general.

“While I am basing the piece on something deeply personal – my own journey of accepting myself as a non-binary person – I believe the narrative and musical arc of discovering joy in the finding of one’s true self to be a universal story that can speak to anyone who has struggled internally. I can’t wait to get started composing!”

Matthew-John’s original composition will premiere with Symphony Nova Scotia during the 2025/26 concert season.

Launched in 2016, the Maria Anna Mozart Award supports the work of Canadian women and non-binary composers, providing $10,000 for Symphony Nova Scotia to commission and perform a new symphonic work. The award is the first of its kind in Canada and was made possible through the generosity of Halifax resident and Symphony supporter Dr. Jane Gordon.

Learn more about the Maria Anna Mozart Award at

Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra, championing symphonic music in the province for 40 years. With a home base in Halifax/K’jipuktuk and performances across the province, Symphony Nova Scotia is proud to be a vibrant, vital part of Nova Scotia’s rich cultural community. From sold-out orchestral concerts to free family events, youth and seniors’ activities, and educational partnerships, Symphony Nova Scotia creates unforgettable experiences with truly great music. Visit to learn more.


For more information, please contact:

Marcus Glover
Director of Marketing & Communications
Symphony Nova Scotia
[email protected]