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Melbourne Prize For Music 2016

Providing Victorian musicians an opportunity unlike any other, the Melbourne Prize For Music recognises outstanding artistry and tantalising skill across all genres. This year, each of the six recipients will receive a generous reward from a prize pool worth more than $130,000. Though, Melbourne Prize Trust executive director Simon Warrender reminds us that it’s all about encouraging Victoria’s vibrant music community.

Returning this year alongside the Melbourne Prize For Music are the Outstanding Musicians Award, Development Award and Civic Choice Award. This year’s cycle also includes two new categories, valued at $45,000 in total.
 
“We looked at areas that we felt could benefit from a major award,” says Warrender. “We felt composers could, and we were fortunate enough to have the support of one of our existing partners, The Tallis Foundation, who have generously put up the funds to support this new category – the Beleura Award For Composition. The interesting thing is artists of all genres can apply for the award, from contemporary to classical. The other addition this year is the Distinguished Musicians Fellowship. It’s a fellowship, it’s to the value of $20,000 and it’s supported by the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.” The Melbourne Prize For Music was founded in the early 2000s, and is now valued at $60,000. Warrender feels it’s only natural for the music capital of Australia to have a collection of awards to match the level of talent.
 
“We’ve got a city that prides itself on musical heritage and our artistic talent and we need to recognise it,” he says. “It’s all about the value of giving significant opportunities to musicians in this vibrant creative sector.”
 
Working alongside a range of supporters from across the Australian community, the prize’s widespread support is indicative of the value placed on musical contribution around the country.
 
“We run on sponsorship and what it does is that it shows support for music in the public sector and the private sector,” says Warrender. “Each prize is taken up by an individual, a company or a foundation who like what it is and they want to be a part of it – they want to recognise a young musician or they want to recognise somebody who has made a contribution to Australian music scene. All of these companies come together because they want to support local artists. You never know who loves music and it can come from a place that’s not so obvious.”
 
Applications are encouraged from all genres and backgrounds. The broad categories and diverse judging panel ultimately create a level playing field for all of the entrants.
 
“You’ll find it’s reflective in committee members too. They represent as many and as broad of genres as we can cover,” says Warrender. “We have Patrick Donovan, who is the CEO of Music Victoria; Helen Marcou, the co-founder of Bakehouse Studios and SLAM; Ronald Vermeulen, who is the director of artistic planning for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Genevieve Lacey, who is a recorder virtuoso; Paul Grabowsky, a pianist, composer and director of the Monash Academy of Performing Arts; and Marshall McGuire, head of artistic planning at the Melbourne Recital Centre. They all have a very good view of the music sector and I think collectively they’ll be able to make each award eligible for all music genres.”
 
With a growing number of applicants, Warrender says the selection process is extensive and often comes down to finding the perfect balance.
 
“It’s not nation-wide, it’s only for Victorian musicians. So they have to have a demonstrated presence. We’ve had some household names, to really young and upcoming. The judges obviously look at what’s on the entree form, the practical things, the content, the submitted music, the contribution the artist has made and all of the things that must come out of the entree form. They then look for those characteristics which are indescribable, but that do shine through – the passion and the talent.”
 
BY PHOEBE ROBERTSON

Applications are open for the MELBOURNE PRIZE FOR MUSIC 2016 until 5pm on Monday July 11. See melbourneprize.org to find out all the details.