The Melbourne Prize Trust, established in 2004, provides financial and professional development opportunities to artists by running the annual Melbourne Prize, which operates in a three-year cycle. The three-year cycle consists of the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture, Melbourne Prize for Literature, and Melbourne Prize for Music. Victorian musicians should be very excited as 2019 cycles in the Melbourne Prize for Music, offering over $100,000 in prizes for excellence in music.
Whether you’re a mind-boggling great banjo player, out-of-this-world double-kick metal drummer, finessing, fingerpicking folk guitarist or your band delivers a clever kind of Klezmer, you’ll all be taken into serous consideration for the 2019 Melbourne Prize for Music. This year the main award, the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Music will be presented to an outstanding Victorian musician or group whose work demonstrates exceptional musicianship, skill and creativity, irrespective of genre.
“I have always wanted the Melbourne Prize to be an opportunity for all Victorian musicians across all genres,” says Melbourne Prize Executive Director, Simon Warrender. “We have had the most phenomenal response this year through registrations of interest. We’ve had virtually double what we had in 2016, when we last offered the prize. Would a metal or country band look at us and say should we enter? Well why wouldn’t you? Maybe it has taken 15 years to establish what the Melbourne Prize is all about … but it is open … it is not elitist or focussing on one genre.”
Why wouldn’t you indeed! In total, there’s over $100,000 in prize money available across many different categories. There’s the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Music, awarded to an outstanding musician or group, a $20,000 Distinguished Musician’s Fellowship, which rewards a Victorian musician with a commercial engagement with the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, an $18,500 Development Award, a $12,500 Emerging Composers Award, and a $3,000 Civic Choice Award. These could be life changing prizes for the recipients.
“This time we have changed the Melbourne Prize slightly and what we are seeking this year is Victoria’s most outstanding musician, which is interesting and exciting,” Simon tells us of this year’s opportunity. “In prior years what we have done is to look at someone who has made an outstanding contribution, maybe more geared towards a body of work. Certainly this year it is a change and an exciting change. What we are hoping is that $60,000 will go to … as it has in previous years … to somebody that will make a real difference to their career.”
The Melbourne Prize for Music is a labour of love for Executive Director Simon Warrender and there are many aspects of the prize that he enjoys
“I think the amount of positive feedback I have had from various winners as to what it means to them has been fantastic,” he says on reflection. “Really that is what it is all about. We make funds available through the prize to give opportunities to the musicians. I think the other thing that has stood out for me is that it is cross-genre. We get so many applications and they are from such a range of different musicians, so I think it is very inclusive and I think that is certainly another fond aspect of the prize. We’ve also had some great presentations at Deakin Edge. I think keeping the winners to myself before they announce is always difficult but really, there are many fond memories. The other thing that stands out for me is that we wouldn’t have a prize without the support of the private and public sector. Many of our partners have been with us for 15 years and thats the reality. The prize is a community funded thing. ”
One of the other pleasing aspects of the Melbourne Prize for Music is the quality of the judging panel, which is made up from various sectors of the local music community. This year’s judging panel consists of six esteemed music sector professionals – Kutcha Edwards, singer/songwriter and former Melbourne Prize winner; Professor Paul Grabowsky AO, Pianist, Composer, Conductor, Director Monash Academy of Performing Arts; Professor Liza Lim, Composer, Professor of Composition, Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Melissa King, Director of Artistic Planning, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Helen Marcou, Co-founder of Bakehouse Studios and SLAM; and Kate Miller-Heidke, singer/songwriter.
Entries for this year’s Melbourne Prize for Music close on Monday July 22nd. While Simon recommends that entrants don’t hesitate to register, he’s realistic enough to know that most of the entries will arrive during the last week of the competition.
“I enjoy the last week of the entry period because it is crazy,” he says. “We human beings love leaving things to the last minute and I think that is healthy because you do your best work and it’s fabulous. It’s like a tidal wave of entries that come in during that last week and we have the most wonderful response.”
The Melbourne Prize for Music 2019 and Awards include the following categories:
$60,000 NEW MELBOURNE PRIZE FOR MUSIC 2019 will be awarded to an outstanding Victorian musician or group whose work demonstrates exceptional musicianship, skill and creativity. ALL music genres are eligible for this Prize. The Melbourne Prize for Music is supported by principal partner, The Vera Moore Foundation and the Melbourne Prize Trust.
$20,000 DISTINGUISHED MUSICIANS FELLOWSHIP 2019 will be awarded to a finalist in the Melbourne Prize for Music 2019, the Beleura Emerging Composers Award 2019 and the Development Award 2019. The Distinguished Musicians Fellowship 2019 will reward a Victorian musician with a commercial engagement with the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and is made possible by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and The University of Melbourne.
$18,500 DEVELOPMENT AWARD 2019 will be awarded to an early career musician or group of musicians who demonstrate outstanding musical talent and the potential to develop their professional career. ALL music genres are eligible for this Award. The Development Award 2019 includes $10,000 cash, $6,000 Yamaha Music voucher and $2,500 Qantas airfare voucher. The Development Award 2019 is supported by Dr Alastair Jackson AM, Yamaha Music Australia and Qantas.
$12,500 BELEURA EMERGING COMPOSERS AWARD 2019 will be awarded to an emerging Victorian composer to commission work to develop their career. All genres of composer are eligible for this Award. The Beleura Emerging Composers Award 2019 is made possible by The Tallis Foundation, in memory of John Tallis (1911-1996).
$3,000 CIVIC CHOICE AWARD 2019 will be awarded to a finalist across all Award categories with the highest number of public votes. Voting opens on 4 September 2019. The Civic Choice Award 2019 is proudly supported by Readings.
Entries close: Monday 22 July 2019, 5pm
Finalists announced: Wednesday 4 September 2019
Public Exhibition at Federation Square: Monday 11 November – Monday 25 November 2019
Winners announced: Wednesday 13 November 2019
Winner of the Civic Choice Award 2019 announced: Friday 29 November 2019
For information and to enter or nominate visit www.melbourneprize.org. Entries can be made by the individual musician or group or by nomination.