The finalists for the 2019 Art Music Awards have been announced, with several newcomers appearing alongside established voices, and this year – for the first time in the history of the Art Music Awards – there are more women than men in the running for the prestigious Orchestral Work of the Year category. Presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, the Art Music Awards celebrate achievements in Australian contemporary classical music, experimental music and jazz.

Melody EötvösMelody Eötvös. Photo: supplied

“The finalists for the Art Music Awards this year not only reflect the diversity of creative practice in the art music sector, with much activity that takes place beyond the confines of the concert hall; but they also reflect a diversity of voices – from around the country, and from both established and emerging voices,” said Australian Music Centre CEO John Davis.

In the Orchestral Work of the Year category, Elena Kats-Chernin’s Third Piano Concerto, Lebewohl (premiered by Tamara-Anna Cislowska and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alondra de la Parra), is up against Melody Eötvös’s Ruler of the Hive for orchestra and narrator (premiered by Pamela Rabe and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marko Letonja), Cathy Milliken’s DACCORD: A Diary of Discourse, (premiered by soprano Jessica Aszodi, guitarist Vladimir Gorbach and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under Benjamin Northey at the Adelaide Guitar Festival) and Carl Vine’s double piano concerto Implacable Gifts (premiered by Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, with Rory Macdonald on the podium). While this year marks Eötvös’s first foray into the category as a finalist, Milliken took out the award in 2016 for her Earth Plays while Kats-Chernin was a finalist in 2017 and 2011 and Vine was a finalist in 2013.

Rachel BreuervilleRachel Bruerville. Photo: supplied

The Vocal/Choral Work of the Year section sees another newcomer join the fray, with Rachel Bruerville’s In Due Season, setting text by Valerie Volk, up against Alice Chance’s The Audience Choir (premiered by Ensemble Offspring), Andrew Ford’s The Drowners, which sets texts by Tim Winton, George Barker, Georgiana Molloy, Bruce Dawe, Stevie Smith and William Shakespeare, and Damien Ricketson’s The Howling Girls, co-created with director Adena Jacobs for Sydney Chamber Opera.

Elizabeth Younan is another newcomer in this year’s awards, with her Piano Sonata – written for Joyce Yang’s Musica Viva Australia tour – a finalist in the Instrumental Work of the Year category. She’s up against Andrew Ford with his Sixth String Quartet, premiered by the Flinders Quartet, as well as the 2014 winner of the category, Mary Finsterer (whose opera Biographica, took out the Vocal/Choral Work of the Year last year) with Ignis for viola d’amore and cello, which premiered at the 2018 Canberra International Music Festival, and Robert Davidson’s Stalin’s Piano.

Atlas of the SkyLiza Lim’s Atlas of the Sky. Photo © Bryony Jackson

Finalists in the Performance of the Year category are Victorian Opera’s Lorelei, Ray Chen and Julien Quentin’s performance of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Sonata Dark Matter for Musica Viva, Speak Percussion and Jessica Aszodi’s performance of Liza Lim’s Atlas of the Sky, and Taikoz and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Lachlan Skipworth’s Breath of Thunder.

The Award for Excellence by an Organisation will be between the Canberra International Music Festival, City Recital Hall (for its Extended Play festival), Plexus and Zephyr Quartet, while the Award for Excellence by an Individual is between Cat Hope, Lyn Williams, Michelle Leonard and Brian Ritchie.

The finalists for the Award for Excellence in Music Education are Musica Viva Australia, Speak Percussion, Topology and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, while the Award for Excellence in a Regional Area is between Moorambilla Voices, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Steel City Strings, and Warren H Williams, Michael Sollis and Barkly Arts.

The Award for Excellence in Experimental Music is between the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, Leah Barclay, Speak Percussion and Eugene Ughetti and Thembi Soddell.

In the jazz categories, the Jazz Work of the Year is between Gratitude and Grief, Katie Noonan’s collaboration with Michael Leunig and her trio Elixir, Brenton Foster’s Love, As We Know It, Ross McHenry’s Nothing Remains Unchanged and Joshua Kyle and Andrew Murray’s Trombone Song Cycle, while the finalists for the Award for Excellence in Jazz are Andrea Keller, Jeremy Rose, Niko Schauble and Ross McHenry.

The winners of all categories, including the newly renamed Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, will be announced on August 19 at a ceremony at the University of Sydney’s Great Hall, hosted by Jonathan Biggins and featuring music curated by composer-pianist Barney McAll.


Limelight is proudly sponsoring the 2019 Art Music Awards. The Awards will be held on Monday 19 August at The Great Hall of The University of Sydney. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for our live coverage of the event.