The legendary homegrown composer tells Limelightwhat he has in common with George Clooney.

The Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australian Music Centre have paid tribute to Peter Sculthorpe with the 2012 Art Music Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music.

The 83-year-old Tasmanian composer, internationally renowned for his distinctive style drawing inspiration from the Australian landscape and indigenous culture, said he was proud of his long association with the organisations presenting the award.

“APRA was founded in 1926 and I became a member in 1956,” he recalled, ”So I must be one of the very oldest living members. That makes it very special to me and I treasure the recognition.”

Speaking from his Sydney home the afternoon of the awards, Sculthorpe dismissed the description of “the father of Australian classical music” that has plagued him for decades. But he doesn’t mind comparing himself to George Clooney.

“I haven’t prepared my speech for tonight,” he confessed. “It’s the one thing I have in common with George Clooney. I heard him say on television that he just wings it when he gives a speech.”

The composer was hard at work, however, on an arrangement of an earlier string arrangement for a concert of...