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21 August 2018

2018 Art Music Awards - winners!

Chamber Made's Tim Stitz and Tamara Saulwick - Award for Excellence in Experimental Music Image: Chamber Made's Tim Stitz and Tamara Saulwick - Award for Excellence in Experimental Music  
© APRA AMCOS / Tegan Louise

The recipients of the 2018 Art Music Awards have been revealed across 11 national and six state categories. A gala event honouring Australia's finest art music composers, from the genres of contemporary classical music, jazz, experimental music and sound art, was held at Melbourne's Plaza Ballroom on Tuesday evening. In its 8th year, the Art Music Awards is the only national event to acknowledge the achievements and creative successes of individuals and organisations who continue to champion Australian art music both at home and overseas.

The Vocal/Choral Work of the Year winner is composer Mary Finsterer for her critically acclaimed opera Biographica, about 16th-century Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano. Premiered at Sydney Festival in 2017, the work was performed by Sydney Chamber Opera and Ensemble Offspring, conducted by Jack Symonds. According to the judging panel, Biographica was 'a stand-out entry', in which 'the composer seamlessly integrates the worlds of baroque and contemporary music into a cohesive whole'.

Matthew Sheens received the Jazz Work of the Year award for American Counterpoint, performed with Lyndon Gray, Myele Manzanza and Zephyr String Quartet. The work is a musical reflection on the horrific 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, and a commentary on topical issues particularly in the USA where Sheens currently resides. 'An original, beautiful work with outstanding collaborators', according to the judging panel.

The award for Excellence in Jazz went to saxophonist and composer Sandy Evans OAM for rockpoolmirror, a suite of musical responses to the photography of Tall Poppies Records founder Belinda Webster. According to the judges, rockpoolmirror stretches the definition of jazz. 'As with the best musical experimentation, this suite requires the listener to engage with and interrogate the material' the panel commented. (Read Belinda Webster's article about the rockpoolmirror project on Resonate.)

The Instrumental Work of the Year was awarded to Lisa Illean for her large ensemble work, Cantor (after Willa Cather). Commissioned and initially performed by Ensemble Offspring, and funded through the APRA Art Music Fund in its inaugural year, the work has been performed by a number of ensembles worldwide. 'The work shows extraordinary sensitivity to colour and timbre and creates an absorbing sound-world which lingers after listening. The writing is thoughtful, use of the ensemble and connection with the voice exquisite', the panel commented. (Read an article about this work on Resonate.)

The Orchestral Work of the Year went to Paul Stanhope, a serial Art Music Awards finalist and winner, for his Concerto for trombone and orchestra, written for and performed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Davis (trombone) and conducted by Asher Fisch. 'A major concerto, with depth, outstanding technique and strong melodic sense', according to the judging panel.

Chicago-based contemporary chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird is the recipient of the Performance of the Year award for Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup, by young Australian composer Holly Harrison. 'The rhythmic and technical demands of this delightful work are amply met in this performance of panache and flair with precision and wit', according to the judges. Eighth Blackbird performed Harrison's work in Australia as part of their Musica Viva national tour in 2017.

Tura New Music received the award for Excellence by an Organisation in recognition of their 30-year contribution to Australian art music and the sonic arts, presenting and promoting to local, regional, national and international audiences. The judges were impressed by Tura's collaboration with communities, overcoming geographical boundaries, and the organisation's outstanding engagement with Indigenous music and musicians, its contemporary focus and evolution over decades.

One of Australia's best-known composers, Carl Vine AO, is the recipient of the award for Excellence by an Individual. 'A stellar year for Carl Vine the composer, whose contribution to Australian music extends far beyond a single year', commented the judging panel.

Young Music Society Inc. (ACT) is the recipient of the award for Excellence in Music Education, acknowledging a significant 50-year commitment to and development of Australian music, by providing access to music for young people. The Society has been the launching pad for many of Australia's leading musicians, composers and professional artists. The panel applauded the Society's 'sustained and valuable endeavours and the tremendous access and engagement afforded in a rural area'.

The award for Excellence in a Regional Area went to Big hART for Acoustic Life of Sheds, which celebrated these spaces, located in regional Tasmania, by repurposing them as instruments or sound-shells, with input from leading composers and musicians working with local community groups. 'A broad-ranging, innovative program', 'A broad-ranging, innovative program...thoughtful presentation of new music'.

Chamber Made is the recipient of the award for Excellence in Experimental Music for Between 8 and 9 (Chengdu Teahouse Project) with lead artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, a contemporary performance installation and a collaboration between Chamber Made artists and those from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu. 'A particularly well-realised, intellectually and musically rigorous, collaborative, contemporary performance installation.'

The award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music (as determined by the APRA Board of Writer and Publisher Directors) was presented to Canberra-based curator, academic and musicologist, Robyn Holmes. With a career spanning over 40 years, her one driving purpose has been to preserve, collect and communicate Australia's artistic legacy, particularly in her long-term position as Senior Curator of the National Library of Australia. (Read a news article about the announcement on Resonate.)

The 2018 Art Music Awards, staged jointly by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre (AMC), were hosted by Jonathan Biggins; presenters included outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Australia Council for the Arts, Tony Grybowski, composers Liza Lim, Tony Gould and Deborah Cheetham AO, and human rights and refugee advocate, Julian Burnside AO QC.

Musical performances curated by Gabriella Smart included Sandy Evans performing with Bobby Singh and Adrian Sherriff; the choir Hallelujah Junction conducted by Jonathan Grieves-Smith; 2018 Art Music Awards finalist Matthew Horsley on Uilleann pipes accompanied by electronics; Melbourne pianist Timothy Young and cellist Svetlana Bogosavljevic performing a Musica Viva commission from young South Australian composer Jakub Jankowski; and a performance by the Titjikala Women's Choir of a work composed by Gabriella Smart, following her involvement with 'The Titjikala Project'.

APRA AMCOS and the AMC congratulate all the 2018 Art Music Awards winners on their outstanding achievements. We'd also like to thank the following people for their time in judging the nominations for this year's Awards: Adam Yee, Alexander Hunter, Andrew Ford, Ben Northey, Chris Williams, Dan Thorpe, Ellen Kirkwood, Gian Slater, Hannah Reardon-Smith, Helen Lancaster, Jessica Nicholas, Joel Crotty, Jonathan Zwartz, Jula Szuster, Karlin Love, Kate Lidbetter, Margaret Moore, Marshall McGuire, Matthew Lorenzon, Nick Shimmin, Nick Vines, Nicole Canham, Peta Williams, Peter McCallum, Phoebe Green, Raff Wilson, Rebecca Erin Smith, Rhod McNeill, Roz Cheney, Sarah Penicka-Smith, Sean Foran, Stephen Leek, and Vanessa Tomlinson. A special thank you goes to Siobhan Lenihan for chairing the Awards panels.

> Read a news article about the finalists announcement.

2018 Art Music Awards - winners

Vocal / Choral Work of the Year

Title: Biographica
Composer: Mary Finsterer; libretto by Tom Wright
Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera, Ensemble Offspring with Jack Symonds (conductor)

Jazz Work of the Year

Title: American Counterpoint
Composer: Matthew Sheens
Performer: Matthew Sheens, Lyndon Gray, Myele Manzanza, and Zephyr String Quartet

Instrumental Work of the Year

Title: Cantor (after Willa Cather)
Composer: Lisa Illean
Performer: Ensemble Offspring

Orchestral Work of the Year

Title: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra
Composer: Paul Stanhope
Performer: Joshua Davis (trombone), West Australian Symphony Orchestra with Asher Fisch (conductor)

Performance of the Year

Performer: Eighth Blackbird
Title: Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup
Composer: Holly Harrison

Award for Excellence by an Organisation
Tura New Music for 30 years of presenting, producing, commissioning, exhibiting, publishing, advocating and supporting Australian art music

Award for Excellence by an Individual
Carl Vine AO for 2017 activities

Award for Excellence in Music Education
Young Music Society Inc. (ACT) for 50 years of community youth music activity

Award for Excellence in a Regional Area
Big hART for Acoustic Life of Sheds

Award for Excellence in Experimental Music
Chamber Made for Between 8 and 9 (Chengdu Teahouse Project) with lead artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey

Award for Excellence in Jazz
Sandy Evans for rockpoolmirror

2018 State and Territory Awards

NSW State Award for Excellence in a Regional Area
Tyalgum Music Festival for the 2017 Tyalgum Music Festival

QLD Award for Excellence in Experimental Music
Vanessa Tomlinson, Leah Barclay and John Ferguson for 100 Ways to Listen

SA Award for Vocal/Choral Work of the Year
Anne Cawrse for On Earth as in Heaven

TAS Award for Orchestral Work of the Year
Maria Grenfell for Spirals for clarinet, bassoon and chamber orchestra

VIC Award for Excellence by an Organisation
Move Records for 50 years of recording and release of new music

WA Award for Performance of the Year
Louise Devenish, Leah Scholes and Vanessa Tomlinson for Never Tilt Your Chair Back by Kate Neal

> Art Music Awards (AMC Online)

> Art Music Awards (APRA AMCOS)

[Updated 5 September 2018 - more detail in the 'Excellence in Experimental Music' category.]


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