RMP Aria and YPA Awards finalists

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Published: 14th July, 2014

August is awards time at many levels and classical music lovers have yet another opportunity to witness the talent live, as seven top young Australian oratorio singers sing their hearts out in the eighth RMP Aria Final. Competing in Australia’s premier oratorio aria competition for a prize pool of more than $4000 are singers originally from the USA, Tonga, Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne. The final is at Deakin Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne on Sunday August 10 at 7pm.

Sopranos Joelene Griffith, Esita Morgan and Alissa Andraski are joined by baritone Michael Lampard, bass-baritones Jeremy Kleeman and Daniel Carison, and counter-tenor Maximilian Riebl. The RMP Aria final has been a springboard to highly successful professional careers for many former RMP Aria winners.

2007 RMP Aria winner Adrian Tamburini is now a full time soloist with Opera Australia, while the 2007 runner up Laurence Meikle is carving out a most successful singing career in London, as is fellow 2007 finalist Suzanne Shakespeare. The 2008 winner, soprano Jessica Aszodi has since relocated to California in America, where she has been in demand, while 2009 winner Robert Macfarlane is an Opera Australia principal singer and travels the world to sing.

2010 runner up Greta Bradman (pictured) has just finished a year at the prestigious Wales International Academy of Voice, and 2013 runner up Stephanie Gibson is following in Greta’s footsteps singing in England and about to start a year at WIAV. 2012 winner Daniel Todd has been invited to take a Young Artist position with the Hamburg Opera following roles with Victorian Opera, and last year’s winner, Nathan Lay continues to forge an impressive career with Victorian Opera and is in demand as an oratorio soloist.
So where will this year’s winners go? What is certain is that success in the RMP Aria opens doors for young singers and has already led to so many professional singing careers.

The added treat in the 2014 RMP Aria Final is a performance by almost 200 members of the RMP Oratorio Festival Choir and the RMP Orchestra of Mozart’s powerful Requiem, with an impressive line up of soloists who are all former RMP Aria placegetters – soprano Emily Uhlrich (2007 2nd Runner Up), mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean (2012 winner), tenor Daniel Todd (2011 winner) and bass Nicholas Dinopoulos (2009 runner up).

The finalists are judged by a panel including leading Australian mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell, RMP Principal Accompanist Stefan Cassomenos and RMP Music Director and Chief Conductor and Chair of the Panel, Andrew Wailes, who will also conduct Mozart’s Requiem at the conclusion of the Aria Final.

First prize is $2000, second is $1000 and third is $600, with a People’s Choice award of $300 and a new Conductor’s Encouragement award of $200. There are also prizes including professional photographic packages, recording sessions, language coaching scholarships and future performing engagements with the RMP.

The seven finalists will perform arias and recitatives from the world of oratorio, and are accompanied by the brilliant pianist Stefan Cassomenos.
RMP Music Director Andrew Wailes is delighted with the incredibly high standard of entries this year.

“We really have an extraordinarily talented line up of singers in the final this year – I believe that every one of these Finalists is destined for a significant career, and it’s wonderful that they are so keen to compete in the RMP Aria, It’s going to be a ripper of a Final” Wailes said.

The RMP Aria final and performance of Mozart’s Requiem will be a wonderful night of musical drama and entertainment, finishing with the now famous RMP Champagne Supper which is included in the ticket price. Places are selling fast, so book your seats today before they sell out!

Book at Trybooking: http://www.trybooking.com/88122 or Ticketmaster Ph: 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au

Meanwhile, in Adelaide …

Melbourne is well represented with four talented young musicians among those in the Finals of the prestigious 70th ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, this year in Adelaide, in August. 
The Awards are Australia’s preeminent classical music awards, and have launched many professional music careers in their 70-year history. Among those looking for a place in the 2014 Grand Final are Melbourne violinist Anne-Marie Johnson, oboist Andrew Kawai, pianist Michael Li and pianist David Soo.

The prestige of the Awards means competition is fierce, although the four Finalists are not deterred.

“It is a very exciting occasion for me,” says Anne-Marie Johnson. “This will be my second time competing at the Awards, and I so enjoyed the experience last year. It’s an honour to be competing against so many fine musicians.”

Anne-Marie is a member of the newly formed Australian Octet and a finalist in the upcoming Dorcas McClean Travelling Scholarship Competition. In 2013 she was the winner of the ANAM concerto competition, a Finalist in the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, an Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist, and winner of the Audience Prize at the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition, where she was a national finalist in 2011 and 2012. In 2010 she received a Premier’s Award for VCE Solo Performance and won the Preston Youth Concerto Competition. Anne-Marie is currently in her second year at the Australian National Academy of Music. Prior to this she completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

“I think it will be a great experience, to try and make the Grand Final once again, as I would also have the chance to play with a full professional orchestra, the Adelaide Symphony, which would be a paramount achievement and experience,” says Andrew Kawai. “And it’s an exciting format, as the competition reflects most international music competitions around the world. It’s also a chance to get acquainted with other young musicians that I might collaborate with in the future.”

Currently a Year 10 student and the recipient of an academic-music scholarship at Scotch College, Andrew is not new to competing. He has won over 50 prizes in music competitions, including People’s Choice Award, Best Recital Prize and Concerto Finalist Prize in the 2013 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, 1st prize in the Junior Section of the 2010 Australasian Double Reed Competition and 1st prize in the Senior Section of the 2013 Australasian Double Reed Competition. He has performed with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, the Australian National Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra, and as concert soloist with the Fraternita Di Solisti Orchestra.
“It is certainly very exciting to be a Finalist, and to think about the opportunities that could arise from this experience,” says Michael.

Michael Li has received many accolades including LMusA with Distinction (2008), inaugural winner of the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Richard Mills Bach Prize (2010), winner of the Preston Symphony Orchestra Concerto Prize (2012), and recipient of a VCE Premier’s Award for Music Performance (2012). He has performed as a concerto soloist with the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, Scotch College Symphony Orchestra, Preston Symphony Orchestra, and the Old Scotch Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed in New Zealand, where he was selected to compete in the 2010 Kerikeri International Piano Competition. In 2013, he was a national finalist in the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition in Geelong.

David Soo has been a prize-winner at the Magin International Piano Competition (Paris) and the ASEAN International Chopin Competition (Kuala Lumpur). He is also a recipient of the Zelman Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Prize. His sold-out debut recital at the Melbourne Recital Centre featured works by Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms and Scriabin. An avid chamber musician, he has been awarded the Musical Society of Victoria’s Olwyn Game Memorial Award and the Boroondara Eisteddfod’s Margaret & Murray Sharp Memorial Chamber Music Award. 

David, who will be competing in the Awards for the first time, says, “I am thrilled to be part of such a prestigious competition and festival, as it has been a stage for many of Australia’s top musicians. And I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to share my love of music with such a wide audience.”

Performance and judging details

Kate Lidbetter, CEO of Symphony Australia, outlines the importance of the competition and what is required. 
“The musician who claims the title of Young Performer of the Year will have proved themselves outstanding in all areas of musical performance – solo recital, chamber music and concerto performance – demonstrating high technical proficiency, an understanding of the repertoire and an appreciation of musical style,” she says. “The roll-call of winners reads like a who’s who of the Australian music world and it’s very gratifying to see how past winners have enjoyed such success from having their talents recognised and nurtured.”

In a mini-festival format that includes 7 public concerts in 10 days over 3 competition rounds – recital, chamber music and concerto – the 12 Finalists in the 2014 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards compete for the grand prize of $25,000, three performance opportunities with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the ABC Sir Charles Moses Young Performer’s Trophy, a professional CD recording, media training and photo shoot and a feature interview in Limelight magazine. It is an extraordinary career boost for any young musician.
Additionally, the prize pool for the Awards includes four prizes of $5000 each – People’s Choice, Best Recital, Best Chamber Music Performance, Best Performance of an Australian Work as well as two Concerto Finalist Prizes of $7500 for each of the runners-up.

Full list of 2014 Young Performers Awards Finalists

Andrew Kawai, 15 (Oboe – VIC) 

Anna Da Silva Chen, 17 (Violin – NSW) 

Anne-Marie Johnson, 23 (Violin – VIC)

Catherine Gregory, 27 (Flute – QLD)

David Soo, 21 (Piano – VIC)

Glenn Christensen, 24 (Violin – QLD)

Grace Clifford, 15 (Violin – NSW)

James Jae-Won Moon, 27 (Piano – NSW)

Kiran Phatak, 24 (Flute – WA)

Michael Li, 20 (Piano – VIC)

Sujin Park, 25 (Violin – NSW)

Zoe Freisberg, 21 (Violin – QLD)

Live concerts and broadcasts:

Tuesday 19 August, 12.30pm, ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Recital Round concert 1

Tuesday 19 August, 6.30pm ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Recital Round concert 2

Wednesday 20 August, 12.30pm, ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Recital Round concert 3

Wednesday 20 August, 6.30pm, ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Recital Round concert 4

Friday 22 August, 1pm, ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Chamber Music Round concert 1

Friday 22 August, 7pm, ABC Adelaide, Studio 520 – Chamber Music Round concert 2

Thursday 28 August, 7pm, Adelaide Town Hall – Grand Final and Concerto Round concert

Picture: YPA 2012 Grand Final winner Katerina Nazarova