Three young instrumentalists have been nominated for the prestigious $20,000 scholarship.

The three finalists have been announced for the 2016 Freedman Classical Fellowship. The annual award recognises a classical instrumentalist under 30 with a scholarship of $20,000 to undertake a “career-enhancing creative project”. Previous recipients include some of Australia’s preeminent soloists: percussionists Timothy Constable, Claire Edwardes and Eugene Ughetti, oud player Joseph Tawadros, guitarists Geoffrey Morris and Karin Schaupp, recorder player Genevieve Lacey, didgeridoo player William Barton, violinist Kristian Winther, flautist Lina Andonovska, clarinettist Ashley Smith, pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska and pianist/composer Peter de Jager. The winner of last year’s award was dynamic clarinettist Aviva Endean.

The 2016 finalists are Tasmanian violist Stefanie Farrands, Victorian percussionist Kaylie Melville, and Queensland pianist Alex Raineri. In an unprecedented move, the winner will be announced on September 17 at a premiere Finals Concert in the ABC’s Eugene Goossens Hall to be hosted by Russell Torrance.

If named the lucky winner, violist Stefanie Farrands says that intends to commission three new chamber music works for viola and other instruments by Australian composers, performing and recording these works with leading Australian musicians both at home and in Europe. Percussionist Kaylie Melville plans to develop her international profile in contemporary and experimental music performance by commissioning Wreak, a significant new piece for solo percussion, live electronics and animation. She hopes to collaborate with composer and sound artist Gemma Peacocke and animator Timothy Armstrong to produce a daring hour-long show that will foreground the virtuosity of percussion and explore new technology in contemporary music. Pianist Alex Raineri will undertake further tuition in the UK, Italy and Austria. He then proposes to commission and workshop three new Australian works for solo piano, programme five self-commissioned Australian works and record a CD of commissions for independent release and digital distribution. Raineri hopes to showcase this work on a performance tour throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The difficult task of selecting the winner falls to Australian composer and educator Professor Matthew Hindson AM, award winning percussionist Claire Edwardes and Timothy Matthies, Director of Artist Development at Music Viva Australia. Dr Richard Letts, director of the Music Trust, is delighted that the Fellowship’s partnership with ABC Classic FM will “bring the brilliance of the finalists’ live performance to an audience for the first time”, hailing 2016 as a “milestone year” that will include “multiple benefits for a range of Australian composers and performers”.