APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre have announced the finalists for the 2022 Art Music Awards, which will be held live in Melbourne on 31 August after last year’s online ceremony. The awards recognise the excellence and achievements of Australian musicians and artists across a range of categories and prizes. This year’s finalists have explored the incredible social and cultural impact of the ongoing global pandemic, as well as the accelerating climate emergency.

Hand to Earth. Photo supplied

While you might expect pandemic-inspired works to be fraught with fear and anxiety, endless lockdowns also provided an opportunity to explore stillness and rest, as seen in the finalists for the Work of the Year – Large Ensemble category. Anne Cawrse, winner of the 2021 Chamber category, is nominated for her meditative concerto for cor anglais and orchestra, The Rest is Silence. Olivia Davies’ work Stratus had its 2020 premiere curtailed by lockdowns. Inspired by the image of a stratus cloud, it was finally performed last year by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. The transcendent Śūnyatā by Fiona Hill, performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, opens with a musically notated yogic breath. Paul Dean’s Symphony No 1 Black Summer falls outside this mould and offers instead a searing commentary on climate change, performed by the Australian World Orchestra.

Nominated for Work of the Year – Choral are Paul Stanhope’s Requiem and Joseph Twist’s An Australian Song Cycle, both of which feature texts by First Nations artist and poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Anne Cawrse’s A Gathering, using the text of an unpublished Paul Hetherington poem of the same name, earns her a second nomination, while Brenton Broadstock is nominated for Pandemic, mvt.6 of “Shadow and Hope – Cantata from Six Continents in the Age of Pandemic”, which is one part of a 6-movement international collaboration.

Deborah Cheetham’s opera Parrwang Lifts the Sky, produced by Victorian Opera and Short Black Opera, is nominated for Work of the Year – Dramatic, as Australia’s second ever Indigenous opera. Huw Belling’s Fumeblind Oracle, a companion song cycle to Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, has received a nomination, as has Jane Sheldon’s Poem for a Dried Up River – “a cry of environmental despair” that blended opera, poetry, physical theatre and art installation for its world premiere at Carriageworks. Ekrem Eli Phoenix’s large-scale work for Gravity & Other Myth’s The Pulse rounds out the category.

Live performance of The Pulse

The Pulse, Gravity & Other Myths. Photo © Darcy Grant

Finalists for Work of the Year – Jazz include Gian Slater’s synth-pop album Grey is Ground and Benjamin Shannon’s track See You Round the Traps, performed by trio Milton Man Gogh. Fronted by Reuben Lewis, I Hold The Lion’s Paw is nominated for its album Lost in Space, while Hand to Earth has been shortlisted for its self-titled work, with music written by Aviva Endean, Sunny Kim, Peter Knight, Daniel Wilfred and David Wilfred.

As a finalist for Work of the Year – Chamber Music, Natalie Williams offers another perspective on the climate emergency with her work Black Summer String Quartet (an Homage to Australia’s Bushfire History). Tristan Coelho looks inward with his nominated Hokusai Mixtape, inspired by reflective, dreamlike works by Debussy and Takemitsu. Bree van Reyk’s work threaded in amongst the infinite threading, recorded on Genevieve Lacey and Marshall McGuire’s acclaimed album Bower, was also shortlisted, along with Rishin Singh’s work mewl infans.

Work of the Year – Electroacoustic/Sound Art sees Mindy Meng Wang receive a second nomination in as many years for Undercurrent 暗涌, written by her and Carolyn Schofield, who is also known by her stage name, Fia Fiell. Other finalists are Erkki Veltheim and his work Effigy, for viola and electronics; Sia Ahmad for Depth Disintegration; and Tim Bruniges, Julian Day and Matt McGuigan for VERY FAST & VERY FAR. 

Performance of the Year – Notated Composition finalists include Andrew Haveron and Simon Tedeschi for their performance of Paul Stanhope’s violin sonata Machine Codes; Andrew Blanch and Ensemble Offspring for Felicity Wilcox’s Tipping Point, another exploration of the destruction wreaked by climate change; and two shortlisted orchestral performances, including Rachael Dease’s performance of her own work Hymns for End Times with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Voyces, and a collaboration between Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian Art Orchestra, Daniel Wilfred, David Wilfred and Benjamin Northey, for their performance of Wata by Paul Grabowsky, Daniel Wilfred and David Wilfred.

Hymns for End Times. Photo supplied

Shortlisted in Performance of the Year – Jazz/Improvised Music are Jeremy Rose & The Earshift Orchestra featuring Simon Barker and Chloe Kim for their performance of their work Disruption! The Voice of Drums; Pat Jaffe, Callum Mintzis and ensemble for their performance of their own reflective work A Sanctuary of Quietude; Vanessa Perica Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

For Love is a Temporary madness, The Symphonic Suite; and ZÖJ, a collaboration between Gelareh Pour and Brian O’Dwyer, for their performance last year at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

The Art Music Awards also offer Awards for Excellence in a number of disciplines. This year, the Award for Excellence in a Regional Area returns to recognise achievement in supporting art music presentation and engagement in regional communities. Nominated are guitarist Andrew Veivers; Camerata, Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra; Fred Cole, and Perth-based arts organisation Tura New Music and Marrugeku.

For the Award for Excellence in Music Education, nominees include Honeybee Creative; the Musica Viva in Schools program; Speak Percussion for their Sounds Unheard program, which earned them a nomination in the same category last year; and educator Tim Nikolsky.

Finalists for the Award for Excellence for Experimental Music are ADSR Zine, for their work in showcasing publications from Australian artists; Hand to Earth, an Australian Art Orchestra project inspired by First Nations song cycles; Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio; and Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey for their project Witness Stand. 

Also presented on the night will be the Luminary awards, for which there are no finalists, but are awarded to individuals and organisations that have demonstrated a significant and ongoing contribution to Australian art music. The APRA Board of Directors will also present the Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music.

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