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Art Music Awards finalists announced

Media Published Tuesday 20 July 2021
First Time Finalists for 2021 (L-R, Top Row to Bottom Row): Carl Rosman, Hamed Sadeghi, Josephine Macken, Lyndon Davis, Mindy Meng Wang, Cyrus Meurant, Peggy Polias, Emily Granger, Loretta Palmeiro, Georgia Scott, Paul Cutlan, Clemence Williams, Jessica O'Donoghue, Reuben Lewis, Lisa Young, Tariro Mavondo, HiberNATION festival, Tricia King, Vanessa Perica, Ed Kuepper, Grischa Lichtenberger, Phonetic Orchestra, Holly Harrison

APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre are excited to announce the finalists for the 2021 Art Music Awards, to be held on Tuesday 17 August in Melbourne.

The Awards celebrate a diverse range of individuals, organisations and some of Australia’s finest composers and performers in contemporary classical, jazz and experimental music and sound art, recognised for excellence in their field.

The quantity, quality and variety of projects and works included makes a powerful statement about the talent, creative drive and resilience demonstrated by art music practitioners everywhere during a year of cancellations and hardships.

The finalists for the Work of the Year – Large Ensemble are a case in point. Holly Harrison’s work Splinter for wind band was premiered by the San Jose State University via a recording after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of physical performances. Yitzhak Yedid’s Kadosh Kadosh and Cursed was part of a live-streamed presentation of the Azrieli Music Prize Gala Concert by the world-famous Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) from Canada. Cyrus Meurant’s When I stand before thee at the day’s end premiered as part of Canberra Symphony’s Australian Series a day before Australia went into lockdown for the first time, and Piece 43 For Now by Cathy Milliken was composed during the lockdown period, inspired by the turmoil of the year’s events, and premiered in a recorded format by Germany’s SWR Symphony Orchestra.

Female composers dominate the Work of the Year – Choral category. Beannaicht An Long (Blest be the Boat) by Clare Maclean incorporates the medieval hymn Ave Maris Stella and two Gaelic prayers for safety at sea; while Lisa Young’s Sacred Stepping Stones was composed for 320 singers at the Festival of Summer Voices, Gondwana National Choral School. Alice Chance and Amanda Cole are nominated for works recorded remotely during the 2020 lockdown; Until We Gather Again and Singing in Tune with Nature.

The Work of the Year – Jazz shortlist features Asteroid Ekosystem composed by the Alister Spence Trio with Ed Kuepper. The rest of the list is comprised of Loretta Palmeiro & Mark Isaacs’ collaboration All Who Travel With Us; Living, composed by Paul Cutlan and included on the album by Paul Cutlan’s String Project; and Vanessa Perica’s Spaccanapoli, a homage to the historic street in Naples.

The Work of the Year – Dramatic category features three works from the Sydney Chamber Opera’s Breaking Glass quadruple bill, premiered via streaming in April 2020: Peggy Polias’s Commute; Georgia Scott’s Her Dark Marauder and Josephine Macken’s The Tent.. Rounding out the category is the Chamber Made & CultureLink Singapore co-production Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep, composed by Erik Griswold.

Finalists for Work of the Year – Chamber Music are Anne Cawrse’s A Room of Her Own for string quartet; Kate Neal and Grischa Lichtenberger’s evocative Canyon 1205, originally written as part of a stage show, and rewritten for solo cellist Blair Harris; Gordon Kerry’s Clarinet Quintet, performed by Omega Ensemble; and Hidden Thoughts II: Return to Sender by Katy Abbott, based on letters sent by Australians to asylum seekers in detention.

The Work of the Year – Electroacoustic / Sound Art finalists competed against a large number of outstanding entries, again demonstrating the need for this recently added category. Shortlisted in 2021 are Mindy Meng Wang’s An Improvisation Through Time and Space 穿越时光的即兴; Tariro Mavondo, Reuben Lewis and Peter Knight’s Closed Beginnings; Jane Sheldon’s Fugue and Amanda Cole’s Oracle Chamber.

The finalists for Performance of the Year Jazz – Improvised Music include dual nominees Loretta Palmeiro & Mark Isaacs for All Who Travel With Us; the Phil Slater Quintet’s performance of The Golden Seam; Phonetic Orchestra’s work Silent Towns; and Vazesh’s Sacred Key featuring Jeremy Rose, Hamed Sadeghi and Lloyd Swanton.

The Performance of the Year – Notated Composition shortlist consists of Emily Granger’s performance of Ross Edwards’s The Harp and the Moon; Sydney Chamber Opera’s production of Peggy Polias’s one-act opera Commute; clarinettist Carl Rosman’s performance of Subdue by Jakob Bragg, and Ensemble Offspring’s collaboration with composer Alex Pozniak, En Masse - the first-ever live performance at the new Sydney arts venue Phoenix Central Park.

Finalists for the Award for Excellence in Music Education highlight the new ways of teaching and connecting with the next generation of music creators in times of change. The shortlist consists of Australian Art Orchestra for Creative Music Intensive 2020; Moorambilla Voices for Moorambilla Magic Modules; Musica Viva for Musica Viva in Schools Online, and Speak Percussion for Sounds Unheard Education Program.

Rounding out the finalists for 2021 are those shortlisted for the Award for Excellence in Experimental Music. Decibel New Music Ensemble commissioned 21 two-minute works for their 2 Minutes from Home project, performed by the ensemble playing their parts in their respective homes. Also on the list is HiberNATION an online, live-streaming festival of experimental projects by artists at home or in unusual performance spaces. Keyna Wilkins is recognised for her activities in 2020 including recording three albums, developing performance projects and composing didjeridu concerto Celestial Emu. Listening in the Wild is a sound art project by Leah Barclay, Lyndon Davis and Tricia King that blends artist voices, science and technology.

The 2021 Art Music Awards ceremony on Tuesday 17 August will also include Luminary Awards, recognising sustained contributions by individuals and organisations. There are no finalists in these categories. The Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, as determined by the APRA Board of Directors, will also be announced.