Dr Richard Letts has received the 2020 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award, presented annually by the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, for his outstanding contribution to Australian Music.

Richard LettsRichard Letts. Photo: supplied

“Richard Letts has had a profound influence in reshaping the pattern of government support for music in Australia,” said Melbourne Conservatorium’s Ormond Professor of Music Gary McPherson. “From his early years as a classical pianist and jazz band leader to, in more recent times, his work as Founder and Director of The Music Trust, he has made a singularly impressive contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the importance and value of music within the Australian community.”

“The contribution that Dr Letts has made on the Australian arts landscape over the past few decades has been formidable,” said Managing Director of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sophie Galaise. “His deep insight into the musician’s experience and his intellectual rigour has had a major impact not only here in Australia, but around the world. From all of us here at the MSO, we sincerely congratulate Dr Letts on receiving this recognition.”

Letts has held numerous influential positions across the music world in Australia and internationally, including as a Director on the Music Board for the Australia Council for the Arts, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Music Centre, Chair and later Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia (now Music Australia), which he founded, as well as President of the International Music Council, UNESCO’s advisory body on matters of music. With Laurence Freedman he devised and launched the Freedman Music Fellowships in classical music and jazz, with funding from the Freedman Foundation, and in 2013 established The Music Trust, of which he is Founder and Director.

Letts became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1996, and in 2008 received the APRA/AMC Classical Music Award for Long-Term Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music.

Letts joins a distinguished list of previous Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award recipients including Deborah Cheetham, Richard Gill, Carl Vine, Yvonne Kenny, Peter Sculthorpe, John Hopkins, Barry Tuckwell, Richard Tognetti, Brett Dean, Simone Young and Frank Callaway.