Art Music Awards
2020 Art Music Awards - winners announced in a virtual ceremony
Luminary Awards to Chris Sainsbury and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra; Western Australia's virtuosi Louise Devenish and Linda May Han Oh setting the bar high:
The 2020 Art Music Awards have been celebrated on 8 September in a virtual ceremony fit for a creative nation, with winning artists and organisations spanning the country from East to West, and from Tasmania to the Northern Territory.
The 2020 Awards included several new and restructured categories, in tune with the constantly evolving art music landscape. As a reflection of this, the winners' list in this year of the pandemic is arguably the most vibrant and forward-looking in the history of these Awards. This is a fitting result for the 10th birthday year of the Art Music Awards - though the history of the Awards goes further back, with the Classical Music Awards, and before that the Sounds Australian Awards, first organised in 1988.
The performance program of the virtual event showcased the talents of two of this year's winners from Western Australia: percussionist Louise Devenish (Performance of the Year: Notated Music; and Luminary Award: Western Australia) and bassist and composer Linda May Han Oh (Work of the Year: Jazz), whose virtuosic performances left little room for doubt as to the accuracy of the judging panels' deliberations. We also heard finalists Robin Fox & Erkki Veltheim, and, as the finale of the program curated by Barney McAll, a performance featuring poetry slam champion Melanie Munuggurr-Williams and producer Beatrice Lewis.
The inaugural national Luminary Award for an Individual, for sustained contribution over several years, was presented to Dharug composer Chris Sainsbury for initiating and driving the Ngarra-Burria: First Nations Composers program, a critically important project. According to the judging panel: 'Chris' work over the past five years has had a national impact in both training emerging First Nations composers and redefining their role and future within Australian art music'.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra was the recipient for the Luminary Award for an Organisation, for long-term commitment offering professional development for Australian composers and musicians, as well as promoting gender equity through opportunities for female conductors. The TSO's support of Australian music was also evident in this year's finalists list.
The Performance of the Year Awards - for the first time presented in two categories - were a show of strength by women in particular. Louise Devenish won the Notated Music category with her percussion program 'Sheets of Sound'; while Sandy Evans's Bridge of Dreams team (Evans, Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan and Sirens Big Band) took home the inaugural Performance of the Year: Jazz/Improvised Music Award.
The new Work of the Year: Dramatic category made Awards history in having two winners. The judging panel unanimously agreed to award two very different but equally outstanding operatic works: Elliott Gyger and Pierce Wilcox's Oscar and Lucinda, based on Peter Carey's novel; and Cat Hope's Speechless - a wordless opera with a graphic notation score generated from the 2014 Human Rights Commission Report about children in immigration detention.
Bassist and composer Linda May Han Oh continued Western Australia's strong performance by taking home the Art Music Award for Work of the Year: Jazz for her Aventurine - 'a pinnacle of what jazz can be in Australia today' according to the judging panel.
The new Award for Work of the Year: Electroacoustic/Sound Art went to the Melbourne-based Matthias Schack-Arnott's Everywhen, praised by the panel as 'stunning in conception and in execution'.
In the new Work of the Year: Choral category Paul Stanhope's work to Steve Hawke's text, I am Martuwarra, was acknowledged as 'a texturally varied and interesting work that harnesses the richness of the multi-layered choral forces to great effect'. Commissioned by Gondwana Choirs, the work's title refers to the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley Region.
James Ledger's Viola Concerto won the Award for Work of the Year: Large Ensemble, the judges calling it 'a highly sophisticated work with its innovative harmonic language and beautiful synergy between all its elements'. The Work of the Year: Chamber Music went to Chris Dench's extensive solo piano composition passing bells:day,'an extraordinary contribution to the repertoire'.
The Award for Excellence in Music Education went to Netanela Mizrahi and Guwanbal Gurruwiwi for the Djari Project. A finalist in two categories this year, the project is a compositional collaboration drawing on the traditional knowledge and songlines from the Galpu community of Galiwinku/Elcho Island, bringing together composers, musicians, music educators and students throughout the Northern Territory.
The Award for Excellence in Experimental Music was presented to the Music Box Project for 'Shallow Listening', a concert experience which combined new compositions by emerging composers with a pioneering Australian work by Moya Henderson. The panel praised the Music Box Project's ability to facilitate, curate and perform experimental music at the highest level.
The Award for Excellence in a Regional Area went to Gillian Howell and Tura New Music for the Fitzroy Valley New Music Project, a third and final year of residencies developing music projects through community collaboration and open exchange of ideas.
The recipients of State and Territory Luminary Awards were also announced on Tuesday. Our warmest congratulations to: Canberra International Music Festival (Luminary Award: ACT); Joanna Drimatis (NSW), Ross McHenry (SA); David Wilfred & Daniel Wilfred (NT); Louise Devenish (WA); Making Waves (Vic); Michael Kieran Harvey (Tas); Katie Noonan (Qld). For more details about these Awards, please see further below.
Composer and sound artist, Dr Ros Bandt formally accepted her Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, presented at the ceremony by Dr. Leah Barclay. Read more about this Award, announced prior to the ceremony on 27 August.
The Art Music Awards were co-hosted by Jonathan Biggins, Dr Lou Bennett AM and Zela Margossian.
APRA AMCOS and the AMC congratulate all the 2020 Art Music Awards winners on their outstanding achievements.
2020 Art Music Awards - winners
Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music
Dr Ros Bandt
Award for Excellence in Music Education
Netanela Mizrahi and Guwanbal Gurruwiwi for the Djari Project
Award for Excellence in a Regional Area
Gillian Howell and Tura New Music for the Fitzroy Valley New Music Project
Award for Excellence in Experimental Music
The Music Box Project for 'Shallow Listening'
Work of the Year: Choral
Title: I am Martuwarra
Composer: Paul Stanhope, text by Steve Hawke
Performer: Gondwana Choirs, Luminescence Chamber Singers, Valla Voices, Hunter Singers, and Resonance and Lyn Williams, conductor
Work of the Year: Chamber Music
Title: passing bells: day
Composer: Chris Dench
Performer: Alex Raineri
Work of the Year: Large Ensemble
Title: Viola Concerto
Composer: James Ledger
Performer: Brett Dean, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Fabien Gabel, conductor
Work of the Year: Electroacoustic/Sound Art
Composer: Matthias Schack-Arnott
Performer: Matthias Schack-Arnott
Work of the Year: Dramatic
Title: Oscar and Lucinda
Composer: Elliott Gyger, librettist Pierce Wilcox
Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera and Jack Symonds, conductor
Composer: Cat Hope
Performer: Judith Dodsworth, Karina Utomo, Caitlin Cassidy, Sage Pbbbt (soloists), with Australian Bass Orchestra, Decibel New Music Ensemble and Aaron Wyatt, conductor
Work of the Year: Jazz
Composer: Linda May Han Oh
Performer: Linda May Han Oh, Greg Ward, Matt Mitchell, Ches Smith, Fung Chern Hwei, Sara Caswell, Benni von Gutzeit, Jeremy Harman, Invenio with Gian Slater, director
Performance of the Year: Notated Composition
Performer: Louise Devenish
Title: Sheets of Sound
Composers: Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, Matthias Schack-Arnott, Louise Devenish and Stuart James
Performance of the Year: Jazz/Improvised Music
Performer: Sandy Evans, Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan and Sirens Big Band
Title: Bridge of Dreams
Composer: Sandy Evans, Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan
Luminary Awards: National
Chris Sainsbury for initiating and driving Ngarra-Burria: First Peoples Composers program
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra for Australian Composers School, Australian Conducting Academy, and professional development opportunities for Australian musicians
Luminary Awards: State/Territory
Australian Capital Territory: Canberra International Music Festival for their record-breaking 2019 event and ongoing reputation for high quality and innovative programming
New South Wales: Joanna Drimatis for sustained contribution to the performance, programming and advocacy of Australian works, and string music education
South Australia: Ross McHenry for trailblazing global pathways through artistic practice for South Australian musicians
Northern Territory: David Wilfred & Daniel Wilfred for cultural leadership and sustained creative contributions in Australia and beyond
Western Australia: Louise Devenish for her ongoing advocacy, commissioning and performance of new percussion music in Western Australia
Victoria: Making Waves for breaking down perceived state barriers and connecting a new generation of Australian musicians
Tasmania: Michael Kieran Harvey for supporting the Tasmanian new music community through teaching, performance and recording
Queensland: Katie Noonan for The Glad Tomorrow and furthering the future of Queensland musicians
About the Art Music Awards
The yearly Art Music Awards are presented by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Australian Music Centre to recognise achievement in the composition, performance, education and presentation of Australian music.
In 2020, a number of changes were introduced in the categories and the nomination process of the Art Music Awards: broader categories for Work of the Year; a stronger multi-genre approach to Performance of the Year and Excellence categories; and a new sustained contribution 'Luminary' Awards on both national and state levels. More information about these changes further down on this page.
Art Music Awards categories from 2020
• Work of the Year: Choral
• Work of the Year: Large Ensemble
• Work of the Year: Dramatic
• Work of the Year: Electroacoustic / Sound Art
• Work of the Year: Jazz
• Work of the Year: Chamber Music
• Performance of the Year: Notated Composition
• Performance of the Year: Jazz / Improvised Music
• Award for Excellence in Music Education
• Award for Excellence in a Regional Area
• Award for Excellence in Experimental Music
• Luminary Award - Individual
• Luminary Award - Organisation
• Luminary Awards - State/Territory Awards
• Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music
Please read the full guidelines for the 2020 Art Music Awards.
Nominations for the 2020 Awards were accepted for works and activities in the 2019 calendar year.
A number of changes were made to the categories and the nominations process. The number of Work of Year categories was expanded to give a dedicated space for electronic works (under Electroacoustic/Sound Art), and to works for the theatre such as opera, music theatre, and ballet (under the Dramatic category). Vocal, instrumental and orchestral works were assessed based on number of forces with 1 to 12 players defined as Chamber Music, and larger works as Large Ensemble. Works for choir remain as a separate category (Choral). In the case of multiple options/nominations, the composer was able to elect in which category the work was considered.
Performance of the Year expanded to two categories, noting the difference in realising a composer's intent (Performance of the Year: Notated Composition) and devising and creating new content (Performance of the Year: Jazz / Improvised Music). The Awards for Excellence (Music Education, Regional and Experimental Music) remain structurally the same, but with an increased focus on inclusivity - these categories are for our jazz and experimental communities as well as our classical community.
The Awards for Excellence by an Individual, Organisation and the State Awards were combined into a new group of awards: the Luminary Awards. The Luminary Awards seek to honour individuals and organisations for their sustained contribution (demonstrated over a period of the last 3-5 years). The Awards will be presented on state level (State Awards) and nationally in the categories of National (Individual) and National (Organisation). Unlike in previous years, State Awards were be specifically nominated for, focusing on the nominee's contribution to their local community.
Nominations were accepted from AMC members (you can join here) and APRA AMCOS members (Composer, Author or Publisher member). Nominators can only nominate once for each award category each year, and self-nomination is not possible in any category. The online nomination process in 2020 was simplified: in addition to essential details regarding the category, nominee etc., a short paragraph detailing the reasons for nomination was required.