Friday, September 7th, 2012
The Music Council of Australia and the Freedman Foundation have announced the finalists for the 2012 MCA Freedman Fellowship for Classical Music. For the first time since the Fellowships’ inception in 2001 only two musicians have been selected as finalists: Perth-born clarinettist Ashley Smith and Sydney-based saxophonist Nick Russoniello.

Dubbed the “Genius Awards” as candidates cannot apply and must be nominated, selectors include some of Australia’s top musicians and academics. The Fellowship carries a prize of $15,000 cash and nominees must be aged 30 years or under. The aim of the Fellowship is to assist young Australian musicians pursue a career on the international stage.

While the inclusion of new music could disadvantage performers in many competitions, the Freedman Fellowship welcomes it. Both finalists include new music as a very strong element in their repertoires.

Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia, Dr Richard Letts, commented “Having exponents of new music competing for a major classical music award reflects the changing landscape of classical music in Australia. Of course, although classical music is stereotyped as conservative, many musical innovations in other genres have appeared in classical music decades earlier.”

Ashley Smith, 27, was the 2010 Symphony International Young Performer Award winner and has emerged as one of Australia’s most exciting young musicians in recent years. Ashley is currently completing post-graduate studies at Yale University (where he recently won the Yale Chamber Music Competition) and regularly plays in New York.

28 year old saxophonist Nick Russoniello was the 2011 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year. In 2010 Nick received the Italian Cultural Council Scholarship to study at the Conservatorium of Music in Milan and earlier this year Nick performed in front an audience of 50,000 people as soloist with the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Festival’s Symphony in the Domain.

On being nominated Nick Russoniello stated “It's a huge privilege to be a Freedman Fellowship finalist, especially as the first sax player to be a finalist in the classical category. It’s a real buzz for me.”

Ashley Smith commented “Being a finalist allows me to design the musical project of my wildest dreams, and hope that my project may become a reality.”

The 2012 judges are Karl Kramer, recently appointed from the USA as the new Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Artistic Director of The Song Company, Roland Peelman; and leading violinist, educator and Music Viva favourite, Goetz Richter.

The 2012 Fellowship recipient will be announced in Sydney on 19 September.

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MCA Freedman Fellowship

The Freedman Fellowship distributes two awards annually each of $15,000 cash for young composers in the areas of Jazz and Classical Music.
Jo Smith
P: 0411888664


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