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News September 9, 2021

APRA AMCOS reveals 2021 Art Music Award winners

APRA AMCOS reveals 2021 Art Music Award winners

The achievements of Australia’s finest composers, performers and educators have been recognised at this year’s Art Music Awards.

Presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, this year’s winners span a range of creative fields including contemporary classical, jazz, experimental and sound art.

Among this year’s musical category winners include Tariro Mavondo, Lisa Young, Erik Griswold, Vanessa Perica, Cathy Milliken and Anne Cawrse, while regional NSW music education organisation Moorambilla Voices was recognised with the Award for Excellence in Music Education.

Deborah Kayser and Speak Percussion were each recognised for their contributions to the creative sector with Luminary Awards, while state-based Luminaries were also awarded to Melbourne Digital Concert Hall (Vic), Ensemble Offspring (NSW), Alex Raineri (Qld), Anne Cawrse (SA) and Stephanie Eslake (Tas).

As previously reported, The Music Show’s Penny Lomax and Maureen Cooney were also named as this year’s recipients of the Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, with the ABC Radio National producers set to be celebrated in person at next year’s event.

APRA AMCOS CEO, Dean Ormston, congratulated this year’s winners and commended their resilience throughout such trying times for the creative sector.

“APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre are proud to celebrate the ingenuity and dedication of this year’s finalists at a time of change and disruption – and in some ways also a time of opportunity – in the performing arts landscape,” Ormston said.

“While we are disappointed to have not had the chance to celebrate with you all in person, we remain committed to advocating on behalf of music creators, organisations and arts workers. Our planned virtual program was to have been a unique showcase of Australian art music, and we look forward to acknowledging your incredible work in person in 2022.”

View all of this year’s Art Music Award winners below.

Work of the Year – Choral

Title: Sacred Stepping Stones

Composer: Lisa Young

Text: Lisa Young

Performer: Massed choir, Gondwana National Choral School 2020 and Lisa Young, conductor

Work of the Year – Dramatic

Title: Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep; a Chamber Made & CultureLink Singapore co-production

Composer: Erik Griswold

Performer: Margaret Leng Tan, performer, Tamara Saulwick, director, Nick Roux, video artist, and Kok Heng Leun, dramaturg.

Work of the Year – Jazz

Title: Spaccanapoli

Composer: Vanessa Perica

Performer: Vanessa Perica Orchestra

Work of the Year – Large Ensemble

Title: Piece 43 For Now

Composer: Cathy Milliken

Performer: SWR Symphonieorchester and Titus Engel, conductor

Work of the Year – Chamber Music

Title: A Room of Her Own

Composer: Anne Cawrse

Performer: Australian String Quartet

Work of the Year – Electroacoustic/Sound Art

Title: Closed Beginnings

Composer: Tariro Mavondo, Reuben Lewis and Peter Knight 

Performer: Tariro Mavondo, poetry, Reuben Lewis and Peter Knight, music, Jem Savage, sound production and Leo Dale, video production 

Performance of the Year – Jazz/Improvised Music

Performer: Phonetic Orchestra

Title: Silent Towns

Composer: Phonetic Orchestra

Performance of the Year – Notated Composition

Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera, Jessica O’Donoghue, Jack Symonds, conductor, and Clemence Williams, director

Title: Commute

Composer: Peggy Polias 

Text: Peggy Polias

Award for Excellence in Music Education 

Moorambilla Voices for Moorambilla Magic Modules

Award for Excellence in Experimental Music 

Leah Barclay, Lyndon Davis & Tricia King for Listening in the Wild


National Individual:
Deborah Kayser for 30-year contribution to Australian music as a trail-blazing soprano

National Organisation
Speak Percussion for visionary leadership and sustained contribution to Australian art music



Ensemble Offspring for consistently high-quality performances, breadth of repertoire, and commitment to collaboration for 25 years


Melbourne Digital Concert Hall for supporting the classical music industry during the COVID-19 crisis


Alex Raineri for commitment to the creation and performance of Australian contemporary music in the Brisbane Music Festival


Anne Cawrse for sustained contribution to the new music culture of Adelaide through composition and education.


Stephanie Eslake as founding editor of Cut Common, providing a voice to emerging composers and performers


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