The Music & Opera Singers Trust in partnership with ABC Classic have announced the semi-finalists for the 2021 ABC Young Performers Awards – one of Australia’s most prestigious awards for young classical musicians. In its 77th year, the now biennial award has a long history of illustrious past winners, including pianist Simon Tedeschi and percussionist Claire Edwardes. The ABC Young Performers Awards recognises talent and potential in young performers from around Australia. Originally slated to be held last year, the competition was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

This year’s semi-finalists are: Jason Henery (double bass), Tony Lee (piano), Robbin Reza (piano), Eliza Shephard (flute), Bennett Tsai (cello) and Edward Walton (violin). The 2021 reserves are Andrew Blanch (guitar), Leanne McGowan (piano), Charlotte Miles (cello), Yebin Yoo (violin) and Jeremy Sreejayan (percussion). 

ABC Young Performers Awards
Benett Tsai, Eliza Shephard, Robbin Reza, Jason Henery, Tony Lee and Edward Walton. Photographs supplied

Sydney-based Jason Henery (20) is currently principal double bass for the Australian Youth Orchestra. Tony Lee (29) is a pianist from NSW who has played internationally with the Brussels Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, China Central Ballet Symphony, as well as locally with the Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. Robbin Reza (26) is also a pianist from Sydney, who was previously a YPA semifinalist in 2018. Eliza Shephard (27) is a Victoria-based flautist who has performed internationally and around Australia, including with Arcadia Winds and Elision Ensemble. Benett Tsai (17) is a NSW-based cellist who was named among the Gen Next: 30 Brilliant Young Musicians by Limelight in 2019. Youngest of the group, Edward Walton (15) is a violinist from Victoria who was recently placed second in the 2021 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. The semi-finalists and reserves were selected from video submissions from around Australia.

The first round was adjudicated by a panel made up of past winners including Ian Munro, Julian Smiles, Janet Webb, Karin Schaupp and Alice Giles, with Dene Olding as the Chair of the adjudication panel.

“Thank you to the many talented musicians throughout Australia and overseas who entered the YPA. It is always inspiring to see the breadth of talent produced by this country and the passion they have for keeping classical music alive,” said Roland Gridiger, CEO of the competition.

“Only those of us behind the scenes see the many hours of work that go into adjudicating a competition like this and this year’s panel of adjudicators have given weeks of their time and expertise. They have the heartfelt thanks of all of us at the Young Performers Awards,” said Gridiger.

The Semi-Finals Concert will be held on 7 November, followed by the Finals Concerts on 21 November, and will be broadcast on ABC Classic.  


More information about the competition and semi finalists can be found here

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