Who were the musicians who thrilled you most in 2017? The artists who raised your spirits and your pulse? Who turned in performances you will never forget? For the third year running, the Limelight critics put together a shortlist of 40 outstanding musicians and ensembles – 20 Australian and 20 international artists – who had particularly wowed them. We then invited you, our readers, to register your online vote. And what a starry line-up it was of musicians, opera singers, composers, conductors, directors and ensembles, ranging from the very established to relative newcomers. The full list is still available on our website. With our highest public vote to date, it was a close contest.

We can reveal that among the artists nominated for Australian Artist of the Year, Benjamin Northey, Asher Fisch, Erin Helyard, Elena Kats-Chernin and Piers Lane received a lot of love. (For these awards a non-Australian who leads an Australian orchestra or arts organisation has been counted as an Australian artist). In the International category, Daniil Trifonov, Angela Hewitt, Renée Fleming, Les Arts Florissants and Mahan Esfahani polled strongly. But, we are delighted to announce that once the public and critics’ votes were combined, this is who you chose…

AUSTRALIAN ARTIST OF THE YEAR

BRETT DEAN

Brett Dean, Australian Artist of the Year, Limelight, 2017Brett Dean. Photo © Bettina Stoess

“TO BE RECOGNISED IS AN HONOUR. I’M VERY EXCITED, BECAUSE DOING WHAT I DO NORMALLY DOESN’T SCORE HIGHLY IN TERMS OF POPULARITY. MUCH OF WHAT I DO IS BASED AROUND WRITING WEIRD SHIT” – BRETT DEAN

Read Limelight’s interview with Brett Dean here.

Runner UP

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Artist of the Year, Limelight

The Australian Chamber Orchestra under Artistic Director Richard Tognetti continued to live up to its reputation as one of the world’s great chamber orchestras with a programme that ranged from the cinematic and musical odyssey Mountain to concerts with star flautist Emmanuel Pahud. The year also included a triumphant UK and European tour, with The Guardian hailing them as “one of the wonders of the musical world”, and news of a three-year London residency as Associate Ensemble at Milton Court in partnership with the Barbican Centre

International Artist of the Year

Jonas Kaufmann

Jonas Kaufmann, Artist of the YearJonas Kaufmann

“Those of us fortunate enough to hear and see Opera Australia’s Parsifal recently in Sydney, in which Kaufmann led a stellar cast, witnessed a peerless performance” – Limelight Critic James McCarthy

Read Limelight‘s 2017 interview with Jonas Kaufmann here.

Read Limelight critic James McCarthy on why for him Jonas Kaufmann is the “best tenor of the day” here.

Runner UP

Limelight Artist of the Year

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields undertook its first national Australian tour in 2017 and thrilled audiences with two invigorating programmes. The world renowned London-based chamber orchestra, founded by Sir Neville Marriner, was led by virtuoso American violinist Joshua Bell, Music Director since 2011. Critics praised the musical camaraderie between Bell and the ensemble, with his “white-hot account” (Limelight) of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto a highlight. This year the Academy celebrates its 60th anniversary.