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Pianist Jonathan Wilson has won the 2017 Geoffrey Parsons Award, worth $6,000. Presented by the Accompanists’ Guild of South Australia, the Award is thought to be Australia’s longest and most significant prize celebrating the art of collaborative piano performance. The Guild itself was founded to acknowledge and elevate the importance of the accompanist in classical music.
In announcing Wilson as this year’s winner, Chairman of the jury and Head of Piano and Chamber Music at the Australian National Academy of Music Timothy Young emphasised “the professionalism and high standard of performances” of the finalists. Wilson’s fellow finalists were David Jenkin from Brisbane and Thomas Saunders from South Australia.
Wilson came out on top with a programme of Beethoven, Brahms, Duparc, Granados and de Falla. Speaking to Limelight, he said: “I chose my programme to display a variety of styles and versatility with working with different musicians. I worked with Adelaide violinist Lachlan Bramble on the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op 30 No 2, and Sydney-based singer Michael Butchard on French and Spanish songs. All three finalists in the competition had to prepare two compulsory songs by Brahms for performance with the distinguished mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Campbell. I feel the most successful part of my programme was the song Phidylé by Henri Duparc, a song with which I feel a deep and personal connection”.
Of his win, Wilson said: “it has been a great honour… particularly as it is named after one of the most important collaborative pianists of the 20th century. It is also wonderful that there is a national competition in Australia solely devoted to the art of collaborative pianism and the art of accompanying. I think the Parsons Award is a great way of gaining more exposure as a collaborative pianist, and the generous prize money will go towards future study projects that I plan to undertake”.
About further accompanying engagements, he said: “my tertiary studies were focussed on solo pianism. However, I now mainly devote my time to working with singers, particularly in opera. However, I do solo recitals from time and time, and often like to sneak in a solo work in a Liederabend or vocal concert. My eventual goal is to have a balance between solo work, collaborative projects with singers and instrumentalists, and repetiteur work and coaching”.