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1 August 2016

Helen Gifford recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Services to Australian Music Award

Helen Gifford in 2015 Image: Helen Gifford in 2015  
© Paul Penton, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

APRA AMCOS and the AMC are proud to announce that composer Helen Gifford OAM will be the recipient of the Distinguished Services to Australian Music Award for 2016. She will receive this prestigious honour at the Art Music Awards on Tuesday 16 August at the Plaza Ballroom in Melbourne. This Award, which is determined by the APRA AMCOS Board of Directors, recognises an individual artist who has made a notable contribution to Australian art music.

A proud modernist with a long and illustrious career, Gifford has written a wide range of compositions, from dramatic works to chamber music, vocal and solo pieces. She was born in Hawthorn, Victoria, in 1935, and gained her Bachelor of Music at Melbourne University Conservatorium in 1958, studying piano with Roy Shepherd and harmony with Dorian Le Gallienne. She won the Dorian Le Gallienne Award in 1965, and a Senior Composer's Fellowship in 1973. Between 1970 and 1982 Helen Gifford received regular commissions to write music for Melbourne Theatre Company productions and was appointed composer in residence to the Australian Opera in 1974. In the 1980s, she wrote two substantial music theatre works funded through grants from the Music Board of the Australia Council: Regarding Faustus (1983), and Iphigenia in Exile (1985).

Works completed in the 1990s include commissions for ELISION, ABC Classic FM and Astra (Choral Scenes). She received a composer fellowship from the Australia Council, and was awarded Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by Monash University (1996), and a Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to music as a composer (1996). A solo piano work for Michael Kieran Harvey, Menin Gate (2005), won the APRA/AMC Classical Music State Award for Victoria in 2006.

See also: 2016 Art Music Awards finalists and Performers and presenters at the 2016 Art Music Awards

AMC resources

Helen Gifford - AMC profile (biography, works, events, articles, recordings)

MP3s of Gifford's music; CDs featuring Gifford's works (AMC Shop)

'Helen Gifford - war, craft, and the making of a modernist composer' - transcript of a 2015 radio interview on ABC RN (Resonate 22 September 2015)

'Helen Gifford: still writing, still modernist and still brilliant' - extract from Rosalind Appleby's book Women of note , Fremantle Press 2012 (Resonate 28 February 2012)

Further links

'Composer Helen Gifford to be honoured at the 2016 Art Music Awards' - an article on the APRA AMCOS website

Listen to Gifford's 1986 opera Iphigenia in Exile and the 1969 orchestral work Imperium on ABC Classic FM's online Australian music collection Rewind

EXILE iPad app by Aphids and ChamberMade Opera (aphids.net)

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