Tony Lee, a 24-year-old pianist from Sydney, takes home the $25,000 first prize.

Sydney pianist Tony Lee has taken home the $25,000 First Prize at this year’s Australian National Piano Award competition held in Shepparton, Victoria. The biennial competition saw 11 pianists performing at Shepparton’s Eastbank Centre competing for a total prize pool of $65,000. The award has been running since 1992, and past winners include Alex Raineri, Daniel de Borah, Jocelyn Ho and Kristian Chong.

“It’s been quite a musical journey,” said Lee, who has studied in Sydney, Melbourne and Moscow and is currently working with Professor Michael Endres at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Norway, “and the experience has been positive and fruitful. Winning this Award helps me to remain focussed on being true to myself and my music. Best of wishes and my thanks to the fellow pianists for the wonderful gift, that is making Music.”

First Prize winner Tony Lee

In addition to First Prize, Lee was awarded $1000 for best performance of music from the Romantic Era (excluding Chopin) or for the first half of the 20th century.

Second place – and a prize of $13,000 – was awarded to 26-year-old Melbourne pianist Peter de Jager – who also won the awards for best performance of the music of Bach and best performance of the music of Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven. Brisbane pianist Oliver She came in third, winning $7,000, and also took out the Andreadis Family Australian Composition Prize for the best performance of music written in or after 1951, receiving $5,000 to commission a new work by an Australian composer.

Second Prize winner Peter de Jager 

Josh Hooke, from Wonthagi, Victoria, won The Lorna Speechley Memorial Prize for the People’s Choice – a prize of $5,000.

“We’ve had the pleasure of listening to some spectacular performances this year, of world class standard,” said Clem Leske, who sat on the jury alongside Rolfe Plagge and Diana Weekes. “What a platform ANPA provides for the burgeoning young talent of this country! Many congratulations to all involved in this wonderful award.”

Third Prize winner Oliver She

The grand final recitals and highlights were recorded by ABC Classic FM and aired nationally Sunday September 11. A limited edition CD recording of highlights from the competition will be produced in the near future.

“Once again, the ANPA audience has been treated to a ‘listening feast!’” said President, Darryl Coote. “We heard stunning performances of not only the great classics, but modern masterpieces such as Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Firebird suites, Carl Vine’s Sonata No 1, Bagatelles and Tocatissimo, Scriabin’s Sonatas and Fantasy, Michael Smetanin’s Stroke, Anne Boyd’s Karbarli Meditation, Georges Cziffra’s arrangement of Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee and Stephen Hough’s charming, yet virtuosic, arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ My Favourite Things – the breadth of repertoire and the expertise with which it was played, were amazing. Right through all four recital stages, from first note to last, we were treated to brilliantly compelling and breath-taking interpretations, transporting us into other worlds – an exciting spiritual renewal!”