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Victorian Opera and classical music street press publication CutCommon have made the longlist for the 2017 Classical:NEXT Innovation Award. The award is part of the Classical:NEXT conference to be held this year in Rotterdam and has been running since 2015. It is designed to draw attention to forward-thinking activities taking place around the world.
“This award aims to give international recognition to the people who are doing the most to push things forward with daring yet intelligent, effective and successful ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, planning and action,” said Classical:NEXT Director Jennifer Dautermann in a statement on the Classical:NEXT website. “I firmly believe the time has come to add such a distinction to the list of already existing awards. As with Classical:NEXT itself, the Innovation Award is a global, democratic, community effort.”
Kanen Breen and Mew Meow in Victorian Opera's 'Tis Pity. Photo by Pia Johnson
Victorian Opera has commissioned 16 new Australian operas in its 11-year history and stages at least one new work annually. The company’s most recent work ’Tis Pity: An Operatic Fantasia on Selling the Skin and the Teeth – a collaboration with cabaret performer Meow Mew, with music by VO Artistic Director Richard Mills – received four stars from Limelight reviewer Tony Way earlier this month.
“As a relatively small and young company, Victorian Opera is immensely proud to receive this international recognition,” said VO Managing Director Andrew Snell. “We work tirelessly to reimagine our art form and evolve opera in a dynamic way. This daringness and point of difference regularly leads to thrilling collaborations and mind-blowing productions. We are so happy to be recognised as a leading force in the innovation of our art form.”
Limelight critic and founder of CutCommon, Stephanie Eslake. Photo by Graziano di Martino
CutCommon, an independently run classical and new music magazine that focuses on young and emerging Australian musicians, is also in the running for the Award. The publication – which was Limelight’s Classical Music Site of the Month in November 2014 – was founded by music journalist and Limelight critic Stephanie Eslake to build an online community for young classical musicians and writers in Australia.
Eslake was named Hobart’s Young Citizen of the Year at a ceremony on Australia Day this year for her work with CutCommon as well as Hobart City Council’s youth arts and culture magazine Platform, and she has recently been named as a semi-finalist in the Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards Arts and Fashion category.
“The CutCommon team is so excited to receive this nomination, and humbled to be placed in this longlist among such innovative projects from across the world,” she told Limelight. “It is a privilege for us to be able to represent Australia's community of young writers and musicians by being part of this international award.”
Last year’s Classical:NEXT Innovation Award was won by German group Ensemble Resonanz, and while an Australian group or artist has yet to take out the prize, there have been several nominations over the past few years. The Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music and JOLT Arts’ Click Clack Project received nominations in 2015 and Ensemble Offspring and Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour made the longlist in 2016.
The nominations for 2017 were chosen by a committee of 21 music journalists and experts from 18 countries, with Harriet Cunningham – best known for her work as a classical music critic for the Sydney Morning Herald – representing Australia. The committee will narrow the nominations down to a shortlist, which will then be opened to the global Classical:NEXT professional community who will vote for the winners online via C:N NET. The winner will be announced and the award presented at the Classical:NEXT 2017 closing ceremony on May 20.