The winners of the 2019 Art Music Awards have been announced at a ceremony in the University of Sydney’s Great Hall, in a celebratory evening of live performances hosted by comedian Jonathan Biggins. Presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, the Art Music Awards celebrate achievements in Australian contemporary classical music, experimental music and jazz.

Carl Vine, Symphony No 8, Enchanted LoomCarl Vine. Photo © Keith Saunders

While the list of finalists this year included several newcomers, the night largely belonged to established voices and previous award winners. Carl Vine won Orchestral Work of the Year for his double piano concerto Implacable Gifts, inspired by the James Gleeson painting of the same name and given its premiere by Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Rory Macdonald. The composer has been a regular finalist at the Art Music Awards across a number of categories (including for Orchestral Work of the Year in 2013 for his Second Piano Concerto) and was last year honoured with the Award for Excellence by an Individual. The composer was up against fellow finalists Melody Eötvös, Elena Kats-Chernin and Cathy Milliken.

Another returning Art Music Awards regular was Mary Finsterer, who – after taking out the Vocal/Choral category last year – won Instrumental Work of the Year for Ignis, which was premiered by James Wannan on viola d’amore and Christopher Pidcock on cello. This is Finsterer’s second time winning the category, having won it in 2014 for Aerea.

Damien Ricketson, who was a finalist in the Instrumental category in 2011 and went on to win it in 2015, returns this year to win Vocal/Choral Work of the Year for The Howling Girls. Created with director Adena Jacobs, it was premiered by Sydney Chamber Opera and soprano Jane Sheldon, alongside artists from The House That Dan Built.

Jessica Aszodi and Speak Percussion. Photo © Bryony Jackson

Performance of the Year went to Speak Percussion (who received the Excellence in Experimental Music award at the 2016 Art Music Awards) and Jessica Aszodi, for their performance of Liza Lim’s Atlas of the Sky. Lim herself is no stranger to the Awards, having taken out both the Instrumental and Vocal/Choral categories in 2017.

Gondwana Choirs founder Lyn Williams won the Award for Excellence by an Individual, for “significant contribution to the creation and performance of choral music in Australia,” while the Zephyr Quartet took out the Award for Excellence by an Organisation for “their 2018 activities and 20 years of sustained contribution to the local, national and international arts scene.”

The West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema-inspired education program Crescendo won the Award for Excellence in Music Education, while the Award for Excellence in a Regional Area went to Steel City Strings and the Award for Excellence in Experimental Music went to the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music.

In the jazz categories, Jazz Work of the Year went to Joshua Kyle and Andrew Murray’s Trombone Song Cycle  while the Award for Excellence in Jazz went to composer, bass player and producer Ross McHenry for recording, international touring, residencies and commissions.

In the State and Territory Awards, the Canberra International Music Festival won the ACT Award for Excellence by an Organisation, trumpeter and composer Ellen Kirkwood won the NSW Award for Excellence in Jazz, Warren H. Williams, Michael Sollis and Barkly Arts won the NT Award for Excellence in a Regional Area for One Sky Many Stories, and sound artist Leah Barclay won the Queensland Award for Excellence in Experimental Music. Drummer and composer Daniel Susnjar won the Western Australia Jazz Work of the Year award for his Onward and Upward. Pianist Gabriella Smart won the South Australia Award for Excellence by an Individual, bass player Brian Ritchie won the Tasmania Award for Excellence by an Individual and composer Cat Hope won the Victoria Award for Excellence by an Individual.

The newly renamed Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music went to experimental jazz trio The Necks, who is the first band to receive the honour.

The event featured performances, curated by Barney McAll, including music by Alice Chance and Robert Davidson, an improvisation by saxophonist Scott McConnachie and organist Amy Johansen, and a performance of Rhyan Clapham’s Talk To Me I’m Listening, by Ensemble Offspring’s Jason Noble, Emma Jardine, Benjamin Kopp, Sonya Holowell and Chloe Kim.


Limelight is a proud sponsor of the 2019 Art Music Awards