Glittering notes, winning awards

Keith Gallasch

The APRA-Australian Music Centre Classical Music Awards have become a significant part of the Australian musical calendar. This year the ceremony was broadcast on ABC Classic FM from the Sydney Conservatorium's Verbrugghen Hall, an indication perhaps of an improving sense of connection between the arts-faltering national broadcaster and the community of which it is a part. The awards recognise the achievements of artists for specific works or across the span of their creative lives. There are no dollars, as yet, but the recognition counts highly and the more Australians who hear about them, the better.

Award winners for 2004 included composers Andrew Ford (Best Composition by an Australian Composer: Learning to Howl), Gordon Kerry (Orchestral Work of the Year: This Insubstantial Pageant), Gerard Brophy (Vocal/Choral Work of the Year: Berceuse) and Richard Charlton (Instrumental Work of the Year: Stoneworks, for guitar). Best Performance of an Australian Composition was won by young clarinettist Richard Haynes for his performance of Peter Rankine's Time and the Bell. Viola virtuoso Patricia Pollett was awarded Most Distinguished Contribution to the Presentation of Australian Composition by an Individual for her performances of Australian works she'd commissioned and has played on her CD Still Life (reviewed by Chris Reid on Earbash).

The Most Distinguished Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music in a Regional Area went to the Queensland Biennial Festival of Music and was accepted by its artistic director Lyndon Terracini—a well-deserved award for a truly innovative approach to developing regional engagement with music-making. The Distinguished Services to Australian Music award went to Miriam Hyde, composer, teacher and poet, now in her 90s but a confident presence at the ceremony. The Award for Long Term Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music went to composer Felix Werder (for biographies of Hyde and Werder go to www.amcoz.com.au). Among the state awards (SA) composer Bozidar Kos was recognised for Long-term Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music (his 70th birthday concert by Ensemble Offspring is reviewed in this edition). The full list of awards can be found on www.amcoz.com.au.

Initially muted by live broadcast decorum, but loosening up as the night progressed and the winners quipped drolly about career ups and downs, the sense of occasion was heightened with memorable performances. There were vividly dramatic excerpts from Andrée Greenwell's multimedia music theatre work Dreaming Transportation; Ensemble Offspring gave a dynamic account of Michael Smetanin's engaging Spray; and oboist Diana Doherty and company revelled in Ross Edwards' flirtatious and sensual Love Duet.

Ananda Sukarlan played a contrasting and increasingly dark selection from his In Memorium commissions in remembrance of the victims of the 2002 Bali bombing; and Robert Hughes, a 2003 award winner, offered a great flourish in the form of his Prelude for Organ (played by Sarah Kim) to open the evening.

Given the national importance of the awards, it's looking like the ceremony will move on to other capital cities in the years to come. It's a well-organised, good-humoured blend of prize-giving, spare, witty speech-making and excellent performances worthy of the winners and the culture they represent.

APRA-Australian Music Centre Classical Music Awards, Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, July 12

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2004