Musica Viva has announced the finalists and first-round prize-winners of the 2021 Strike A Chord competition.

The national chamber music competition was created in 2020 to celebrate Musica Viva’s 75th anniversary. Open to all secondary students across Australia, it provides an exciting platform for the young musicians to work collaboratively as an ensembles and develop their musical skills. In this, its second year, 465 young musicians were involved in the 114 entries to the Strike a Chord competition.

Strike a Chord 2021. Photograph courtesy of Musica Viva Australia

After two weeks of deliberation, the jury has decided on the 12 groups from across Australia that will be heading to Melbourne for the Grand Finals at Melbourne Recital Centre on 14 and 15 August. The 12 finalists are: The Canberra Reds from Canberra; Bartholdy Trio, False Relations and Piccolo String Quartet from Sydney; Amogus Trio, JPMS Ensemble Spirito and “Shell Shocked” Chamber Percussion Ensemble, Sheldon College from Brisbane; Piruli String Quartet from Adelaide; Scotch College String Quartet, Trio Finifugal, and Vdub from Melbourne; and Four Strings from Perth.

Wilma Smith, Artistic Director of Competitions at Musica Viva, said, “I’m personally thrilled with the diverse mix of wind, string, piano, percussion and vocal groups represented in our 114 entries from all across Australia, and by the incredibly high quality of the playing and singing. It’s exciting to see and hear these polished, sophisticated and enthusiastic performances from our young musicians and I think finals weekend will be a cracker.”

Not only has Gandel Philanthropy supported Strike A Chord for the second year, but in 2021 it has partnered with Musica Viva to present the Gandel Australian Music Prize, which was won by False Relations from Sydney.

Gandel Philanthropy CEO Vedran Drakulic OAM said, “The inaugural Gandel Australian Music Prize for the best performance of an Australian work recognises both the efforts and talent of our young musicians, as well as helping promote the work of Australian composers. Gandel Philanthropy looks forward to joining the winners, False Relations, for their performance at the Strike A Chord semi-finals in Melbourne later this year.”

Other first-prize winners include Baroque Ensemble from Adelaide which won the Innovation Award, the Shearwater Trio from Armidale/Coffs Harbour, which won the MRC Regional Prize, and Bellissimo Flute Ensemble from Brisbane, which won the AMEB Emerging Ensemble Encouragement Award.

In addition to the main competition, a new novice section, supported by Yamaha Music Australia, welcomed groups in which all members played at a maximum AMEB Grade 4 standard (equivalent). The first prize was won by Ensemble Fontegara from the Sunshine Coast, second prize went to Darwin High School Saxophone Quartet from Darwin, and third prize to Spinifex Senior String Ensemble from Mt Isa.

Prizes to be won at the Grand Final weekend include First Prize – The Robert Salzer Prize worth $5,000; Second Prize – The Paul Morawetz Prize worth $4,000; Third Prize – The Laura Brown Prize worth $2,500; and Audience Prize – The Peter Druce Prize worth $2,000.

The Australian National Academy of Music Prize will also be awarded to the string quartet which the adjudicators believe would most benefit from a week-long coaching residency at ANAM.


The finals of Musica Viva’s 2021 Strike a Chord competition will take place at Melbourne Recital Centre on 14 & 15 August. A full list of finalists and first-round prize winners can be found here  

Sign up to the Limelight newsletter