The nominations for the 2020 AIR Awards’ Best Independent Classical Album have been announced. Presented by the Australian Independent Record Labels Association, the AIR Awards recognise, promote and celebrate Australia’s independent music sector.

This year the five classical nominations acknowledge albums by Amy Dickson, Joseph Tawadros, Katie Noonan with the Australian String Quartet, Richard Tognetti and Erin Helyard, and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Asher Fisch, with heldentenor Stuart Skelton.

Saxophonist Amy Dickson has been nominated for her album In Circles in which she pays homage to Australian and European folk traditions. Released by ABC Classic, the recording features music by Sculthorpe, Grainger, Brahms and Vaughan Williams among others. Pianist Daniel de Borah joins Dickson for Manuel de Falla’s Jota.

Oud player Joseph Tawadros is nominated for his self-produced album Betrayal of a Sacred Sunflower. Described as “a reflective, meditative and emotional journey in music”, the dreamy, melancholic recording features music written by Tawadros himself. For the recording he teams the oud with violin and 6-string violin (Veronique Serret), piano (Luke Howard), electric guitar (Damian de Boos-Smith), trombone (James Greening) and Egyptian percussion (James Tawadros).

“For this album I wanted to explore silences. It’s about restraint, surrounding myself with artists that know more about space than I do, exploring where [we] could go in that context,” he said.

Katie Noonan and the Australian String Quartet are recognised for their collaboration on The Glad Tomorrow, a song cycle featuring art songs by 10 Australian composers based on poems by Oodergoo Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker). The composers are William Barton, Robert Davidson, Connor D’Netto, Iain Grandage, Thomas Green, David Hirschfelder, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Tognetti, Carl Vine, and Noonan herself. Noonan and the ASQ also toured a concert version of The Glad Tomorrow.

Celebrated Australian musicians violinist Richard Tognetti and harpsichordist Erin Helyard are nominated for their album Beethoven & Mozart Violin Sonatas, recorded by ABC Classic.

“Tognetti and Helyard are two of Australia’s most exciting, original and thoughtful musicians. They’ve collaborated on a number of occasions over the years, but this is the first time they’ve recorded Mozart and Beethoven together. The combination of talent, familiarity and novelty was bound to produce something special,” said Limelight in its 4.5 star review. “Their playing is exceptional, the Kreutzer real edge-of-your-seat stuff. But Tognetti and Helyard feel more flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants stuff. That’s to say, thoroughly prepared and rehearsed, but willing to take those kinds of risks which always sound spontaneous.”

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of its Principal Conductor Asher Fisch has also been nominated for its recording of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde featuring Stuart Skelton and Gun-Brit Barkmin. The concert performance, staged in August 2018, was described by Limelight as “an astonishing gift to audiences and a triumph of music making”. The album, released by ABC Classic, received a 4.5 star review from Limelight.

The AIR Awards and the accompanying Indie-Con Australia Conference are supported by the South Australian Government.

Innovation and Skills Minister David Pisoni said the South Australian Government is proud to be a major partner for both Indie-Con and the AIR Awards.

“The Indie-Con Australia conference provides the music industry both nationally and locally an opportunity to come together to support each other through these challenging times as well as have important conversations about navigating the future,” said Minister Pisoni.

“The AIR Awards will recognise and celebrate the inspiring talent of Australia’s independent artists during what has been a tough time for the music industry. Congratulations to all the award nominees on their success.”

The 2020 AIR Awards will be held at Adelaide’s Freemasons Hall on October 1. If COVID-19 restrictions prevent a face-to-face event from taking place, the Awards will be broadcast digitally.


The full list of nominations