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Nigel Butterley to receive posthumous Art Music Award

Media Published Tuesday 16 August 2022
Nigel Butterley AM - photo by Josh Raymond

Late pioneering composer Nigel Butterley AM will be honoured posthumously for Distinguished Services to Australian Music at the 2022 Art Music Awards

The Art Music Awards ceremony will feature a curated line-up of five live music performances from musical director Barney McAll

The 2022 Art Music Awards will take place on Wednesday 31 August at Meat Market in North Melbourne

Presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, the prestigious Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music will be posthumously presented to composer Nigel Butterley AM at the 2022 Art Music Awards, on Wednesday 31 August in Melbourne.

Sydney-born composer, teacher, broadcaster, and pianist, Butterley was a highly decorated musician, and is cited as one of the most influential pioneers of contemporary Australian composition.

As a composer, Butterley’s work captured the attention of listeners in the 1960s. His chamber work Laudes (1963) affixed his place as one of the foremost Australian composers of his generation, a position further cemented by his winning of the Italia Prize for his work In the Head the Fire in 1966.

Butterley’s colourful opus includes work for solo piano, string quartets and other chamber music, an opera, and several major orchestral works, drawing seemingly unending inspiration from poetry.

In his decades-long career, Butterley was awarded prestigious composition prizes including the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award, the Don Banks Music Award, and the Paul Lowin Orchestral and an Art Music Award in 2003 for Choral or Vocal Work of the Year for The True Samaritan.

As a broadcaster, Butterley worked at ABC Radio from 1952 to 1973, where he became a staunch advocate for new music not previously heard in Australia. 1973 was a milestone year in his career: he was commissioned the work Fire in the Heavens to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Opera House and took up a position as a lecturer in contemporary music at the Newcastle Conservatorium. He held his tenure before retiring with the assistance of a four-year Australian Creative Fellowship in 1991,which is the same year he was named a Member of the Order of Australia. In 1996, he was bestowed with an honorary doctorate by the University of Newcastle.

The posthumous award will be presented at the Art Music Awards ceremony, which will feature five live music performances in a line-up curated by musical director Barney McAll. Performers include Gian Slater and Invenio Singers; Helen Svoboda with Erik Griswold, Joseph O’Connor, Audrey Powne and Andrew Saragossi; violin and piano duo Andrew Haveron and Simon Tedeschi; Baroque recorder and harpsichord duo Hannah Coleman and Donald Nicolson; and Butchulla songman Fred Leone, with experimental contrabassist Samuel Pankhurst, Ritchie Daniell and Charlotte Jacke.

APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre are looking forward to hosting the first live, in-person Art Music Awards ceremony in two years.