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Art Music Awards

2019 Art Music Awards

The 2019 Art Music Awards winners have been announced at a ceremony held at the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on Monday 19 August 2019. Winners across 11 national and eight state categories include some of Australia’s most innovative artists and organisations with a long-term commitment to Australian art music.

Hosted annually by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre (AMC), the Art Music Awards is the only national event in Australia that acknowledges the achievements and creative successes of Australian composers, performers and educators in the genres of contemporary classical music, jazz and experimental music.

This year’s Orchestral Work of the Year went to Carl Vine’s Implacable Gifts (Concerto for two pianos and orchestra) a sophisticated, strong work inspired by surrealist painting Arrival of Implacable Gifts by James Gleeson. ‘A work of great beauty and refinement’, commented the judges.

Mary Finsterer was recognised in the category of Instrumental Work of the Year for Ignis, a meticulously crafted duet for cello and the six-stringed viola d’amore. ‘Breathtakingly beautiful, surprising at every moment’, according to the judging panel.

Vocal/Choral Work of the Year was awarded to wordless opera The Howling Girls, composed by Damien Ricketson with direction from Adena Jacobs. A single soprano and a teenage chorus of howling girls create a sensory spectacle that communicates in a mode beyond the rational. Judges described this work as 'quite ahead of its time’.

The Jazz Work of the Year was Trombone Song Cycle, a collection of obscure love songs composed by Joshua Kyle and arranged by Andrew Murray for the unusual combination of trombone quartet and voice. The award for Excellence in Jazz went to composer and bass player Ross McHenry for the creation of major new works, international touring, residencies and commissions in 2018.

The Performance of the Year went to Speak Percussion and Jessica Aszodi for their performance of Liza Lim's Atlas of the Sky. ‘A wonderful example of a high-quality performance that realised the ambition of the composer’, commented the judges.

Zephyr Quartet received the award for Excellence by an Organisation in recognition of their 2018 program which defied genre, style and expectation, as well as their fearless championing of Australian work over 20 years. The winner of the award for Excellence by an Individual was Lyn Williams for her significant contribution to the creation and performance of choral music in Australia. Over 30 years, Lyn has transformed the choral landscape in Australia through the establishment of world-renowned children’s choirs including Sydney Children’s Choir and Gondwana Voices.

West Australian Symphony Orchestra is the recipient of the award for Excellence in Music Education for their Crescendo program. Inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema, the program delivers free, ongoing and regular music education programs to West Australian schools. Illawarra-based Steel City Strings won the award for Excellence in a Regional Area for their performance activity in the last twelve months and continued commitment to new Australian music.

The award for Excellence in Experimental Music went to Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music for their ongoing event, described by the judges as ‘a courageous, stimulating and imaginative place for high quality experimental music’.

The newly-titled Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music (as determined by the APRA Board of Writer and Publisher Directors) was presented to experimental jazz trio The Necks, the first band to receive this honour. With a career spanning three decades, the trio have carved out a unique space in the music scene, walking the line between avant-garde, improvisation and minimalism while still paying respect to jazz.

The 9th annual Art Music Awards were hosted by Jonathan Biggins; presenters included Chief Executive Officer of the Australia Council for the Arts, Adrian Collette AM; Create NSW Executive Director of Investment & Engagement, Elizabeth W. Scott; ABC Classic's Content Manager Toby Chadd; Artistic Director for SIMA, Zoe Hauptmann; Philanthropist and Chair of the Copyright Agency, Kim Williams AM and Dr Simon Barker, Senior lecturer in Jazz Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Live performances curated by musical director Barney McAll featured composer Alice Chance; pianist Sonya Lifschitz performing a work by Robert Davidson; a duo improvisation by saxophonist Scott McConnachie and organist Amy Johansen; and a performance of Rhyan Clapham’s 'Talk To Me I’m Listening', performed by Ensemble Offspring’s Jason Noble and Emma Jardine joined by Benjamin Kopp, Sonya Holowell and Chloe Kim.

APRA AMCOS and the AMC congratulate all the 2019 Art Music Awards winners on their outstanding achievements. For more information about all Art Music Awards finalists in 2019, please see this earlier article on Resonate.


Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music

The Necks

Vocal / Choral Work of the Year

Title: The Howling Girls
Composer: Damien Ricketson; with Adena Jacobs (director)
Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera: Jane Sheldon (soprano); artists from The House That Dan Built (ensemble)

Jazz Work of the Year

Title: Trombone Song Cycle
Composer: Joshua Kyle and Andrew Murray
Performer: Joshua Kyle (voice), James Greening, James Macauley, Jordan Murray & Adrian Sherriff (trombones) with Andrew Murray (conductor)

Instrumental Work of the Year

Title: Ignis
Composer: Mary Finsterer
Performer: James Wannan (viola d'amore) and Christopher Pidcock (cello)

Orchestral Work of the Year

Title: Implacable Gifts (Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra)
Composer: Carl Vine
Performer: Kathryn Stott (piano), Piers Lane (piano), West Australian Symphony Orchestra with Rory Macdonald (conductor)
Publisher: Hal Leonard/Faber

Performance of the Year

Performer: Speak Percussion with Jessica Aszodi
Title: Atlas of the Sky
Composer: Liza Lim; texts by Bei Dao and Eliot Weinberger
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing MGB obo Ricordi Berlin

Award for Excellence by an Organisation

Zephyr Quartet for their 2018 activities and 20 years of sustained contribution to the local, national and international arts scene

Award for Excellence by an Individual

Lyn Williams for significant contribution to the creation and performance of choral music in Australia

Award for Excellence in Music Education

West Australian Symphony Orchestra for Crescendo, El Sistema-inspired free music education program

Award for Excellence in a Regional Area

Steel City Strings for activities in 2018 and commitment to new Australian music

Award for Excellence in Experimental Music

Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music for their ongoing contribution

Award for Excellence in Jazz

Ross McHenry for recording, international touring, residencies and commissions


2019 State and Territory Awards

Winners of State Awards are determined through a review process assessing all applications received for each state across all Award categories.

ACT Award for Excellence by an Organisation

Canberra International Music Festival for sustained creative excellence, exceptional growth and cultivation of Australian music

NSW Award for Excellence in Jazz

Ellen Kirkwood for [A]part and other projects and activities in 2018

NT Award for Excellence in a Regional Area

Warren H. Williams, Michael Sollis and Barkly Arts for One Sky Many Stories, inspiring audiences as they explore their relationship to the night sky, Indigenous culture and the world around us

QLD Award for Excellence in Experimental Music

Leah Barclay for Listening Underwater, a large-scale experimental music and acoustic ecology project

SA Award for Excellence by an Individual

Gabriella Smart for activity in 2018

TAS Award for Excellence by an Individual

Brian Ritchie for sustained contribution to the Australian music sector as a performer, curator and mentor

VIC Award for Excellence by an Individual

Cat Hope for leadership in the composition, performance and education of new music in Australia

WA Jazz Work of the Year

Daniel Susnjar for Onward and Upward


> Rules and Guidelines for the 2019 Art Music Awards


About the 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. There are eleven national Awards and a varying number of State and Territory Awards. The national awards are presented in categories covering, among others, composition (four Work of the Year awards), performance, music education, regional music, experimental music and jazz. Nominations are accepted from current AMC or APRA members - also, industry organisations and companies such as educational institutions, broadcasters, retail outlets, recording studios, and promoters are able to nominate.


National Awards

Eleven national Art Music Awards are open for nominations from members of the Australian Music Centre and APRA, as well as industry organisations and companies such as educational institutions, broadcasters, retail outlets, recording studios and promoters: Work of the Year (orchestral; instrumental; vocal or choral; jazz), Performance of the Year, Award for Excellence by an Individual, Award for Excellence by an Organisation, Award for Excellence in Music Education, Award for Excellence in a Regional Area, Award for Excellence in Experimental Music (for works, people or events) and award for Excellence in Jazz (for works, people or events).

An additional category is awarded at the discretion of the Board of Directors of APRA and AMC for Distinguished Services to Australian Music.


State/Territory Awards

For each State or Territory, one Award is given from one of the following categories: Work of the Year (orchestral; instrumental; vocal or choral; jazz), Performance of the Year, Award for Excellence by an Individual, Award for Excellence by an Organisation, Award for Excellence in Music Education, Award for Excellence in a Regional Area, Award for Excellence in Experimental Music (for works, people or events), award for Excellence in Jazz (for works, people or events).