The Art Music Awards will honour beloved music educator and conductor Richard Gill, who died last year, by renaming the Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music. The newly named Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music will be presented at the 2019 Art Music Awards, which recognise outstanding contributions across contemporary classical music, contemporary jazz and improvised music, experimental music and sound art, held this year at the University of Sydney’s Great Hall. Previous recipients of the award include Gill himself in 2014, Robyn Holmes, John Pochée, Helen Gifford, Larry Sitsky and Peter Sculthorpe.

Richard GillRichard Gill at the 2014 Art Music Awards

“On October 28, 2018, the music world went into mourning at the loss of one of its most adored and cherished advocates. Richard Gill AO, the pragmatist, the polymath, the juggernaut, the educator, the conductor, the wise sage, much loved leader, mentor and believer of all good things, finally succumbed to illness following a devastating and prolonged battle with bowel and peritoneal cancer,” said composer and APRA AMCOS Board Member Nigel Westlake. “In his 76 years, Richard touched many thousands of people with his belief in the power of music to heal, to educate, to civilise, to beguile and entertain. His fervent belief that music is the pinnacle of mankind’s greatest achievements was an infectious and powerful mantra that enthused and inspired numerous generations of music students and lovers of the artform. There would hardly be a musician playing on any stage in Australia who has not been profoundly inspired by Richard’s love for music and passion for art.”

“Originally called Distinguished Services to Australian Music, this award has been conferred upon an elite handful of Australia’s most revered and highly esteemed composers, educators, performers and conductors since 2008,” Westlake said. “In partnership with the family of the late Richard Gill, the APRA Board of Directors have chosen to honour Richard’s legacy through the renaming of this important recognition of contribution to culture. This is perhaps one small way in which our community can acknowledge the beauty, passion and mirth that Richard so generously shared with the world.”

The Art Music Awards, which are presented by APRA and the Australian Music Centre, will be hosted by actor Jonathan Biggins with music curated by pianist and composer Barney McAll. This year’s awards will be different from previous years, with the presenters promising a reinvigorated stage and seating layout, to be revealed on the night. Finalists will be announced on July 16.

“Our art music community grows more dynamic and more diverse year after year, and we believe it was time for the Art Music Awards to reflect this change,” said John Davis, Australian Music Centre CEO. “The magnificent Great Hall at Sydney University is imbued with a beautiful sense of history and prestige, so we felt it was appropriate to liberate our audience from the pews to better experience the evening’s fabulous live performance program, and to participate in this unique celebration of our rich art form.”

The 2019 Art Music Awards will be presented at the University of Sydney’s Great Hall on August 19