This year’s hopefuls have submitted proposals that look to take classical music in fresh directions.

Eight nominees have been announced for the prestigious Freedman Classical Fellowship for 2017, which awards one classical instrumentalist of up to 30 years of age $20,000 to undertake a career-enhancing creative project.

The nominees this year are a diverse bunch, with bassoonist Matthew Kneale, flautist Tamara Kohler, double bassist Jaan Pallandi, pianist Alex Raineri, percussionist Thea Rossen, double bassist Phoebe Russell, violinist Emily Sheppard, and violist Katie Yap hoping to make it through to the finals. Three will be chosen to perform at a concert on September 9 in Sydney’s Eugene Goossens Hall, with the full concert and announcement of the winner broadcast live on ABC Classic FM.

The project proposals submitted by the nominees are refreshingly varied, taking in music videos and performance art crossovers, to new commissions and international tours. Topics as diverse as climate change, the Tasmanian wilderness, marital roles, and Baroque improvisation are in the mix.

Kneale has proposed an international concert tour that centres on the bassoon as a solo and chamber entity in its own right, performing repertoire such as Australian Holly Harrison’s new work for bassoon and string quartet written specifically for Matthew, and solo bassoon work, Multisonics by Australian composer Katy Abbott.

 Kohler’s proposal involves the release of her first solo EP through a series of music videos, including the world premieres of three new solo commissions with visual media from composers Jakob Bragg, Holly Harrison and a work for her ensemble Rubiks Collective.

Pallandi, the youngest member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra bass section, hopes to be able to develop his abilities as a soloist by commissioning new work for solo double bass and chamber orchestra from Elena Kats-Chernin, and to perform this work with the Auckland Chamber Orchestra as part of their 2018 season.

Raineri proposes to tour newly commissioned Australian works for solo piano across Europe and New Zealand, introducing an international audience to the work of Australian composers James Ledge, Samantha Wolf, Liam Flenady, Samuel Smith, Corrina Bonshek and Chris Dench.

Rossen plans to collaborate with internationally renowned percussionist Maria Finkelmeier of Kadence Arts in Boston, creating and performing a new work for percussion that explores climate change.

Russell intends to commission new works for double bass, including a duet for two double basses from composer Kristian Winther, and a concerto for double bass and ensemble from composer Paul Dean, and to finance an unconventional performance project inspired by Marina Abramovic, in which Russell and her husband, musician Bernardo Alviz, play music that represents the different roles in modern society.

Sheppard’s proposal involves recontextualising classical music through the use of the music video. She plans to incorporate the Tasmanian wilderness in her project.

Yap hopes to be able to demonstrate the contemporary potential of classical music by creating improvisational works in the Baroque style, recorded for online distribution via social media, and also providing a downloadable educational guideline for teaching baroque improvisation, to further encourage improvisation within classical music.

The three finalists will be selected by judges Elaine Chia (CEO of City Recital Hall), Dr Steven Mould (Chair of Opera Production and Senior Lecturer in Conducting and Operatic Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and Kirsten Williams (Associate Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra).


The finalists concert will be held on September 9 at the Eugene Goossens Hall

More information