The Mozart Fellowship

The Mozart Fellowship was established in 1969 to aid and encourage composers of music in the practice and advancement of their art, to associate them with the life of the University and to foster an interest in contemporary music within the University and in the community. The work of the Mozart Fellow may be performed in concert during their Fellowship year.

The annual, 12-month Fellowship provides a studio/office space and not less than the minimum salary of a fulltime university lecturer. It is open to composers who are normally resident in New Zealand who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, have demonstrated their ability and talent, and the intention of pursuing a career in music, and would benefit from holding the Fellowship.

Previous Fellowship recipients since 2008

All previous Fellowship recipients

Photo of Sean Donnelly

Sean Donnelly

Mozart Fellow 2022

Award-winning songwriter, contemporary composer and studio producer Sean Donnelly is the Mozart Fellow.

Under the stage name SJD, Sean has released eight albums prized for their originality and expansive exploration of several genres. He has composed soundtracks for many of New Zealand’s leading film and television productions, producing traditional and experimental acoustic work, and since the 1990s has frequently performed live.

His new, full-length album, entitled Sweetheart, was releasesd in October 2021.

During the Fellowship, Donnelly hopes to explore and subvert “some of the cheesier areas of popular music”, including concept albums, rock operas, and “big dumb pop songs”.

“I’m always secretly trying to make a banger or something that functions like a banger (even if it sounds more like a fizzer). I like to delve into pure pop but try to make it less cheesy and more emotionally direct and honest. Music and composition are all about finding stories to tell – especially about this peculiar little corner of the world we inhabit.”

He was “absolutely over the moon, humbled and blown away in equal measure” when he learned he’d received the Mozart Fellowship.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to give myself over fully to making new music, be it weird, off-putting or even accidentally universal. It will be so great not to have to take my eyes off whatever I’m having a moment with. I’m also keen on improving my skills, plus of course, making a truckload of music and a truckload of new friends.”


Otago Fellows University of Otago