The composer, artist, writer and broadcaster has won the Classical section in this year’s awards, taking home a $15,000 prize.

Composer Julian Day was won the Classical section of the 2017 APRA Professional Development Awards, APRA AMCOS announced today. The composer, artist, broadcaster and Limelight contributor will receive a cash prize of $15,000.

“I can’t quite believe it!” Day told Limelight. “This year’s finalists are incredible (shout outs to Amanda Cole, Katy Abbott, Nicole Murphy and Tristan Coelho) so I’m feeling very humbled. I’ve actually been entering for over six years and kind of gave up on winning a long time ago. So remember kids – never give up.”

Julian DayComposer Julian Day. Photo © Felicity Jenkins

The biennial awards are designed to create career boosting opportunities for highly talented songwriters and composers across different genres. Ainslie Wills, Julia Jacklin and Sophie Payten (Gordi) have won awards in the Popular Contemporary category, Jess Beck won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander category, Fanny Lumsden won Country, Nick Drabble (Set Mo) won Dance/Electronic, Damien Lane won Film and Television and Andrea Keller took out Jazz.

Composer and poet Eric Avery was announced as the recipient of the $12,000 Indigenous and Media Award from the Smugglers of Light foundation, which was set up in memory of Eli Westlake, who was tragically killed in Sydney in 2008. The award was presented by Eli’s father, composer and conductor Nigel Westlake.

The judging panel for this year’s awards included Lior, Mia Dyson, Johannes Luebbers, James Blundell, Brooke McClymont, Cat Hope, Dan Zilber, Kevin Bennett, Leah Flanagan and John Ferris.

For Day, the prize money represents a chance to make the most of opportunities overseas. “I currently have a one-off US visa so I’m going to see how long the funds last in New York City,” he says. “I’ll be writing new music, scoping out performance projects, taking some lessons, meeting with producers and curators and getting to as many shows as I can with what’s left over.”

“Being a composer or freelance musician is like leaping off a cliff,” Day says. “You have to invent your own career, through your skills, your connections and your ability to make things happen. So getting a boost like this, both in visibility and cold hard cash, makes a really huge difference.”

But the composer still has Australia very much in his sights. “I’m directing an ambitious 24-hour citizen’s choir in Sydney on the first weekend of September, as part of the exhibition This Is A Voice,” Day explains. “We will be singing continuously from 1pm Saturday 2nd to 1pm Sunday 3rd on Observatory Hill in The Rocks as a kind of wordless tribute to the great social movements that have taken place in the area.”

“You are welcome to say hi at any time,” he says, “in fact, bring your singing voice and join us!”


Julian Day will direct a ‘citizen’s choir’ at Sydney Observatory September 2 – 3

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