Hilary Geddes is the Freedman Jazz Fellow for 2021.

The Sydney-based guitarist was announced as the winner of the Freedman Jazz Fellowship ahead of finalists saxophonist Flora Carbo, electric bass guitar and double bass player Joseph Franklin, and drummer Maria Moles.

Hilary Geddes

Hilary Geddes. Photo © ABC Jazz

Originally from Griffith, NSW, Geddes has become a key figure on the Australian scene in just a few short years. After studying with Andreas Wahl in Germany in 2016 and 2017, she returned home and graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with First Class Honours in 2018. In 2019 she received the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award, which enabled Geddes to record her debut album with her quartet, Parkside, which was released on ABC Jazz this year.

Throughout 2020, Geddes also received mentorship from Vanessa Tomlinson, Cat Hope and Andrea Keller as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s and Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA)’s 2020 mentorship programs, and she was one of the three people selected in the inaugural ABC Jazz Scholarship program for 2021.

Conceived by Laurence Freedman and Dr Richard Letts, the Freedman Jazz Fellowship is an award offered annually to Australian musicians aged up to 35. It is judged by senior jazz figures around the country, assessing not just the individual’s musical talent but also how the winner will use the $21,000 prize “to benefit their own music, their contribution to the art form and to the communities of audiences and musicians”. This year the judges were saxophonist Loretta Palmeiro, trumpeter Naadje Noordhuis, pianist Stuart Hunter and previous Freedman Fellow guitarist Ben Hauptmann.

With her prize money, Geddes will return to her roots, giving public performances and conducting workshops across the NSW Riverina, Canberra and Goulburn. She will also visit regional conservatoriums and other community and regional organisations, and take steps to engage with the Indigenous population, with the aim of elevating music making in the area. Geddes will also write a new composition for her band, rehearse and record at the Cad Factory, a professional rehearsal and recording studio at Boree Creek, south of Narrandera, and then tour the new work to Sydney and Melbourne.

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