Musica Viva Australia has announced the grand finalists of the inaugural Strike a Chord competition, the organisation’s National Chamber Music Championship for secondary school ensembles. Twelve ensembles have been chosen from six states and territories to compete in the Grand Final event, which will be live streamed across Australia thanks to Melbourne Digital Concert Hall.

Strike a ChordMusicians from Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Photo © James Grant

The competition boasts a prize pool totalling over $40,000 worth of cash and development opportunities, and audiences at home will also be invited to vote for their favourite performance on the day. The Audience Prize of $2,000 will be announced live alongside all the Major Prizes, including The Robert Salzer Prize of $5,000 for the winning ensemble.

The finalists include string quartets (Cousin Quartet and Serendipity Quartet from Sydney), piano trios (Lammoyip Trio and The Lashavi Trio from Sydney, The Millenium Trio from Perth and Open School Trio from Canberra), percussion ensembles (JPMS Ensemble Animato and JPMS Ensemble Brillante, both from Brisbane), as well as a cello quartet (Cellolujah from Melbourne), a chamber choir (Esperanza from Adelaide), a wind quintet (Magnolia Quintet from Sydney) and a piano quartet (Piccolo Piano Quartet from Sydney).

“Selecting just twelve ensembles to progress to the Strike A Chord Grand Final was extremely difficult, given the rich array of talent on display in the wonderful video entries we received,” said Wilma Smith, Artistic Director of the Competition, who was joined on the panel by first round jurors Elizabeth Sellars and Stefan Cassomenos. “It’s been an extraordinary process and along with our two stupendous first round jurors, I was bowled over by the quality and moved by the genuine joy and enthusiasm for music-making from students all over Australia.”

“They, their teachers and parents are to be congratulated for keeping music alive and thriving during this topsy-turvy year,” said Smith. “I can’t wait to share the extraordinary diligence and talent of these young musicians with a wider audience via our special online broadcast on Saturday 12 September.”

ABC Classic presenter Ed Ayres will host the final, which will see all 12 groups have a performance featured in the online concert – either a live performance from a satellite location or a broadcast of a pre-recorded entry video for those groups affected by lockdown restrictions.

The Strike A Chord competition is a new initiative developed by Musica Viva Australia for its 75th anniversary in 2020, with support from Creative Victoria and presented in partnership with Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). The Championship will be held annually and is open to secondary school aged chamber ensembles of between three and eight players in any vocal or instrumental combination.

Musica Viva has also announced the winners of the following prizes:

Woodwind Prize

Bellissimo Flute Ensemble, QLD

Brisbane Girls Grammar School Harp Trio, QLD

Churchlands Senior High School Year 12 Wind Quintet, WA

Pimlico State High School Saxophone Quintet, QLD

The King’s School Clarinet Quartet, NSW

Trinity College Senior Clarinet Ensemble, SA

Brass Prize

Dry Your Tears, ACT

St. George Brass Band Junior Quintet, NSW

Percussion Prize

Desmosedici Percussion Ensemble, QLD

JPMS Ensemble Energico, QLD

String Prize sponsored by the Australian String Teachers Association (AUSTA)

Cairns State High School String Quartet, QLD

Opus Quartet (Barker College), NSW

Pirulí String Quartet, SA

Trinity Grammar School (Summer Hill) String Quartet, NSW

Spirit Of Chamber Music Prize in memory of John and Lesley Sellars

Brisbane Girls Grammar School Year 12 String Quartet, QLD

Vocal Prize

Barockers, SA

The Illegal Choir, NSW

Vox Crucis, QLD

Keyboard Prize

Brisbane Girls Grammar School Piano Trio, QLD

MLC School Senior Piano Trio, NSW

Trinity Grammar School (Summer Hill) Senior Piano Trio, NSW

The Waterford Trio, WA

Junior Prize

The Artemis Trio, NSW

Barker Cello Quartet, NSW

Bradford Trio, VIC

Trio Mignon, QLD

AMEB Emerging Ensemble Encouragement Award

Fort Street High School Saxophone Quartet, NSW

Innovation Award

St. Andrew’s Cathedral School Bolling Quartet, NSW

The Grand Final of Strike a Chord will be live streamed at 2pm AEST on September 12

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