It is surely a travesty for classical music in Australia that the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Award is to be discontinued after being run annually for 71 years.
More than just a contest, the nation’s only national fixture for emerging musicians has been operating since 1944 and has served as a platform for some of Australia’s most successful musicians to launch their careers – pianists Roger Woodward, Simon Tedeschi and Tamara-Anna Cislowska, baritone Jonathan Summers, soprano Rosamund Illing, mezzo-sopranos Catherine Carby and Fiona Campbell, violist, conductor and composer Brett Dean, oboeist Diana Doherty, percussionists Claire Edwardes and Alison Eddington, clarinettist Philip Arkinstall, violinists Natalie Chee, Shaun Lee-Chen, Susie Park – are just some of the names on an honour roll of musicians associated with this award who have made their name both in Australia and around the world.
The competition has encouraged Australian composition with the award for Best Performance of an Australian work
Offering not just monetary prizes but performance, recording and interview opportunities and media training, the rigorous requirements made of entrants has ensured that they are well grounded in all aspects of music performance – recital, chamber and symphonic. The 2015 competition attracted more than 200 entries.
Following the announcement of the axing, Symphony Australia has defended the decision by the six CEOs of the nation’s symphony orchestras to discontinue the Young Performers Awards.
Australia’s classical music heritage will be vastly poorer for the loss of this important fixture.