APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre have announced the finalists for this year’s Art Music Awards, with many first-time finalists, emerging composers and past winners in the mix. Celebrating excellence and innovation in contemporary Australian art music, past winners are a distinguished bunch including Liza Lim, Brett Dean, Paul Grabowsky and Cat Hope.

CEO of the Australian Music John Davis has commended the range of finalists this year, stating: “This is testament to the vibrancy of our art music scene, reflecting a rich landscape of creative practice across the sector.”

Those up for Orchestral Work of the Year are Paul Stanhope for his Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, Andrián Pertout for his Entropia for Symphony Orchestra, Maria Grenfell for her Spirals for Clarinet and Bassoon, and Lachlan Skipworth for Spiritus.

Paul Stanhope

An equally strong group of contenders have been shortlisted for this year’s Instrumental Work of the Year category. They are composers Jakub Jankowski for his Aspects of Return, Lisa Illean for Cantor (after Willa Cather), Corrina Bonshek for Up in the Clouds, and Lisa Cheney for When We Speak.

Mary Finsterer’s Biographica, Andrew Form’s Comeclose and Sleepnow; six Liverpool love songs, Alice Chance’s Flat Lux: The Light Cycle, and Anna Cawrse’s On Earth as in Heaven have seen these composers nominated for Vocal/Choral Work of the Year.

Mary Finsterer. Photo © Dean Golja, Image United

Duking it out for Performance of the Year are the Australian String Quartet and cellist Pieter Wispelwey for their performance of Gordon Kerry’s String Quintet No 2, Eighth Blackbird for its performance of Holly Harrison’s Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup, multi-instrumentalist Matthew Horsley for his rendition of Liam Flenady’s A Book of Migrations, and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and soloists conducted by Simone Young for their performance of Andrew Schultz’s Maali.

Simone Young. Photo © Klaus Lefebvre

Carl Vine’s undertakings in 2017, Connor D’Netto’s artistic direction of the concert series ARGO, and Kenya Wilkins’ activities in original art music throughout 2017, including the release of three original albums, have seen these arts leaders shortlisted for Excellence by an Individual.

Carl Vine. Photo © Keith Saunders

This year’s hopefuls for Excellence by an Organisation are the Australian Art Orchestra, Gondwana Choirs, Move Records and Tura New Music. The Australian Art Orchestra have been shortlisted for its collaboration, touring, mentorship and innovative programming, while Gondwana Choirs have been recognised for its Songs of My Country collaboration with the Vienna Boys Choir. Move Records meanwhile has been acknowledged for its 50 years of recording and release of new music, while Tura New Music is a finalist for its 30 years of advocacy and support for Australian art music.

Elsewhere, Chamber Made (Between 8 and 9, Chengdu Teahouse Project), Eugene Ughetti (Assembly Operation, Splinter Orchestra (for new work, performances, exhibitions, concerts), Vanessa Tomlinson, Leah Barclay and John Ferguson (100 Ways to Listen) are all shortlisted for Excellence in Experimental Music.

For Excellence in a Regional Area, Big hART has been nominated for its Acoustic Life of Sheds, Moorambilla Voices for its 2017 season, The Orpheus Club String Quartet for their 2017 ‘Festival in a String Quartet’ Central QLD tour, and the Tyalgum Music Festival for its 2017 Festival.

The Australian Art Orchestra may pick up two Art Awards this year, additionally shortlisted for Excellence in Music Education for its Creative Music Intensive residency. It’s up against the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Wind Symphony (MCM Wind Symphony Performances), the MLC School (MLC School Sydney Opera House Concert 2017), and Young Music Society Inc for 50 years of community youth music activity.

The award winners will be announced at the Art Music Awards on August 21 at Melbourne’s Plaza Ballroom, while the APRA Board of Directors will announce the recipient of the Distinguished Services to Australian Music in the next few weeks. Past winners include John Pochée, Richard Gill, George Dreyfus, Helen Gifford and Peter Sculthorpe.


Full list of finalists

Vocal / Choral Work of the Year

Title: Biographica
Composer: Mary Finsterer; libretto by Tom Wright
Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera, Ensemble Offspring, Jack Symonds (conductor)

Title: Comeclose and Sleepnow: six Liverpool love songs
Composer: Andrew Ford; poems by Adrian Henri, Brian McGough, Brian Patten
Performer: The Monash Art Ensemble, with Gian Slater, Paul Grabowsky (conductor)

Title: Fiat Lux: The Light Cycle
Composer: Alice Chance
Performer: Leichhardt Espresso Chorus, The Song Company, Alice Chance, Benjamin Burton (and audience); Michelle Leonard (conductor)

Title: On Earth as in Heaven
Composer: Anne Cawrse; text by Michael Leunig
Performer: Adelaide Chamber Singers, Christie Anderson (conductor)

Jazz Work of the Year

Title: American Counterpoint
Composer: Matthew Sheens
Performer: Zephyr String Quartet, Matthew Sheens, Lyndon Gray, Myele Manzanza

Title: [A]part
Composer: Ellen Kirkwood
Performer: Sirens Big Band, Andrea Keller (piano), Sandy Evans (saxophones), Gian Slater (voice)

Title: Opioid
Composer: Johannes Luebbers
Performer: Johannes Luebbers Dectet

Title: rockpoolmirror
Composer: Sandy Evans
Performer: Sandy Evans (saxophone), Steve Elphick (double bass), Alon Ilsar (drums), Satsuki Odamura (koto), Adrian Sherriff (trombone), Bobby Singh (tabla)

Instrumental Work of the Year

Title: Aspects of Return
Composer: Jakub Jankowski
Performer: Nicolas Altstaedt & Aleksandar Madžar

Title: Cantor (after Willa Cather)
Composer: Lisa Illean
Performer: Ensemble Offspring

Title: Up in the Clouds
Composer: Corrina Bonshek
Performer: All of the Above

Title: When We Speak
Composer: Lisa Cheney
Performer: Gemma Tomlinson

Orchestral Work of the Year

Title: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra
Composer: Paul Stanhope
Performer: Joshua Davis (trombone), West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Asher Fisch (conductor)

Title: Entropia for Symphony Orchestra, no. 441 (2016-2017)
Composer: Andrián Pertout
Performer: Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra, Guerassim Voronkov (conductor)

Title: Spirals for Clarinet and Bassoon
Composer: Maria Grenfell
Performer: Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, James Feddeck (conductor), Andrew Seymour (clarinet), Tahnee van Herk (bassoon)

Title: Spiritus
Composer: Lachlan Skipworth
Performer: West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Blendulf (conductor)

Performance of the Year

Performer: Australian String Quartet and Pieter Wispelwey
Title: String Quintet No. 2
Composer: Gordon Kerry

Performer: Eighth Blackbird
Title: Lobster Tales and Turtle Soup
Composer: Holly Harrison

Performer: Matthew Horsley
Title: A Book of Migrations
Composer: Liam Flenady

Performer: West Australian Symphony Orchestra and soloists; Simone Young (conductor)
Title: Maali, op. 101 – Concerto for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn with orchestra
Composer: Andrew Schultz

Award for Excellence by an Organisation

Australian Art Orchestra for collaboration, touring, mentorship and innovative programming

Gondwana Choirs for ‘Songs of My Country’ collaboration with the Vienna Boys Choir

Move Records for 50 years of recording and release of new music

Tura New Music for 30 years of presenting, producing, commissioning, exhibiting, publishing, advocating and supporting Australian art music

Award for Excellence by an Individual

Carl Vine AO for 2017 activities

Connor D’Netto for outstanding artistic direction of ARGO throughout 2017

Keyna Wilkins for activities in original art music throughout 2017 as a composer-musician including the release of three original albums

Award for Excellence in Music Education

Australian Art Orchestra for Creative Music Intensive

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Wind Symphony for MCM Wind Symphony Performances

MLC School, Sydney for MLC School Sydney Opera House Concert 2017

Young Music Society Inc. (ACT) for 50 years of community youth music activity

Award for Excellence in a Regional Area

Big hART for Acoustic Life of Sheds

Moorambilla Voices for their 2017 season

The Orpheus Club String Quartet for their 2017 ‘Festival in a String Quartet’ Central QLD tour

Tyalgum Music Festival for the 2017 Tyalgum Music Festival

Award for Excellence in Experimental Music

Chamber Made for Between 8 and 9 (Chengdu Teahouse Project)

Eugene Ughetti for Assembly Operation

Splinter Orchestra for new work, performances, exhibitions, concerts

Vanessa Tomlinson, Leah Barclay, John Ferguson for 100 Ways to Listen

Award for Excellence in Jazz

Sandy Evans for rockpoolmirror

Alister Spence Trio for Not Everything But Enough

Barney McAll for Hearing the Blood

Jeremy Rose for the recording, performance, composition and promotion of contemporary jazz through Earshift Music.