Estonian composer and saxophonist Maria Faust awarded in Denmark

Maria Faust, an Estonian saxophonist, composer, arranger and improviser, has received the prestigious, annually awarded “Hæderspris” (merit award) from the Danish Composers and Songwriters Association.

The prize was presented on 18 September in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hotel Cecil in Copenhagen. 

The winners of the prize remain anonymous to the public until the award ceremony each year. Faust’s win was announced by Anna Lidell, a board member of the Danish Composers and Songwriters Association and a presenter of the show.

Maria Faust with Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Kristjan Järvi in early 2018.

“Maria Faust is an artist – and magician. As a composer and saxophonist, she practices the rare art of wordlessly conveying emotions and stories. She fights and hungers for testing new boundaries and cross-pollinates impressions and genres to end up with her own unique expression,” Lidell said, announcing Faust’s win that included a cash prize and statuette.

As part of the award ceremony, Faust gave a live performance of her own music, backed by a specially selected group of musicians.

Inspired by the orthodox Russian culture

Faust was born in the Estonian island of Saaremaa, but now lives in Copenhagen. She is best known in the fields of third-stream jazz (a synthesis of jazz and classical music), modern big band music, improvised music and other alternative genres. Faust and her bands have performed in concert halls and music festivals around the world.

Maria Faust’s “Undine’s Curse” (2018).

Her breakthrough album, “Sacrum Facere”, was inspired by the orthodox Russian culture in the Estonian-Russian border region. The album merged songs, hymns and lullabies with classical music by free improvisation and received two Danish Music Awards in 2014 – the Jazz Composer of the Year and the Jazz Crossover Release of the Year.

In 2016, Faust and Kira Skov, a Danish singer and composer, recorded the album, “In The Beginning”, in an abandoned Russian Orthodox church in Estonia. The album again won two Danish Music Awards – the Vocal Jazz Release of the Year and the Jazz Composer(s) of the Year. The project also won the Danish Critic Association prize.

Cover: Maria Faust (Krõõt Tarkmeel).