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Kate Miller-Heidke

Report: Greg Phillips
Photos: Jason Rosewarne

The prestigious Melbourne Prize for Music 2019 and Awards presentation took place last night at Deakin Edge in Federation Square, Melbourne in front of an audience which included distinguished guests, family and friends of award nominees, musicians and media.

The prize offers significant opportunities and financial rewards to Victorian musicians in recognition of their outstanding talent. 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. This year, it was music’s turn and the Melbourne Prize for Music, offered over $100,000 in prizes for excellence in music.
Melbourne Prize Trust Executive Director, Mr Simon Warrender took to the stage to thank the numerous Prize sponsors before introducing the 2019 judges; Kate Miller-Heidke, singer/songwriter, Kutcha Edwards, singer/songwriter; 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; and Helen Marcou AM, Co-founder of Bakehouse Studios and SLAM.
Paul Grabwosky presented the first of the awards, the $12,500 Beleura Emerging Composers Award 2019, which went to pianist and composer Andrea Keller.

Andrea Keller

In presenting the award, Paul suggested, “Musicians are not in it for the money … If you think you are going to become a rich person from music then probably if it is not too late, I would suggest switching career paths. Therefore to have this kind of generosity offered at a particular point in a person’s career is not only beneficial from a financial point of view but to be recognised by your peers is such an extraordinary feeling. I have been lucky enough to feel that.”

In her acceptance speech Andrea said, ‘As a musician in Melbourne, in Australia, as a creative, it actually means an incredible amount to have people like this support us.”

Bakehouse Studios and SLAM co-founder Helen Marcou then presented the $18,500 Development Award. The Development Award 2019 includes $10,000 cash, a $6,000 Yamaha Music voucher and a $2,500 Qantas airfare voucher. The Development Award went to Mojo Juju, who unfortunately couldn’t be present at the awards. Kate Miller-Heidke accepted the award on Mojo Juju’s behalf.

Previous winner of the Melbourne Prize Kutcha Edwards entertained the audience with the presentation of the Distinguished Musicians Fellowship 2019, which rewards a Victorian musician with a commercial engagement with the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. The fellowship winner was Erkki Veltheim, who surprised the audience by announcing that he had come to the award ceremony direct from hospital, where his wife had just given birth to their first child a few hours earlier. A winning day indeed for Erkki.

Erkki and Kutcha

Finally the main award, the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Music, awarded to an outstanding Victorian musician or group whose work demonstrates exceptional musicianship, skill and creativity went to Deborah Cheetham. Deborah also couldn’t be at the ceremony due to performance commitments down the road at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Accepting the award was Deborah’s daughter Tamara who said, “Deborah is my mum but also my hero and mentor.” Tamara also told the audience that Deborah wished to dedicate her award to Colin Simpson, the former principal of the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS) who passed away recently.

Voting is now also open for the $3,000 CIVIC CHOICE AWARD 2019, which will be awarded to a finalist across all Award categories with the highest number of public votes. The Civic Choice Award 2019 is proudly supported by Readings. Voters will have a chance to win an overnight stay at Melbourne Sofitel on Collins – Melbourne’s hotel for the arts.

D. Cheetham AO 2019 Melbourne Prize winner

Simon Warrander
Paul Grabowsky and Mellisa King (MSO)

Deborah Cheetham’s daughter Tamara accepts award

Paul Grabowsky congratulates Andrea Keller
Helen Marcou (Bakehouse Studios) and Yamaha Music’s Jaclyn Williams

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