Experimental jazz trio The Necks and Mona Foma artistic director Brian Ritchie were in the winner’s circle at the 2019 Art Music Awards, held Monday night in Sydney.
The Necks, formed in Sydney in 1987 by Chris Abrahams (keys), Tony Buck (drums, guitar) and Lloyd Swanton (bass), become the first band presented with the newly-named Richard Gill Award for distinguished services to Australian music, the night’s top honour.
The accolade, determined by the APRA board of writer and publisher directors, pays tribute to the Necks’ three-decade-long career, during which time they walked “the line between avant-garde, improvisation and minimalism while still paying respect to jazz,” organisers said in a statement.
All told, trophies were handed out for 11 national categories, with Damien Ricketson and Adena Jacobs (vocal / choral work of the year for ‘The Howling Girls’), Joshua Kyle and Andrew Murray (jazz work of the year for ‘Trombone Song Cycle’) and Mary Finsterer (instrumental work of the year for ‘Ignis’) among the winners.
Also on the night, Ritchie, founding bass player with Violent Femmes, who relocated from the U.S. to Hobart in 2007 and two years later curated the first MoFo Festival (short for Museum of Old and New Art: Festival Of Music and Art), took out the Tasmania Award for “excellence by an individual.”
Away from the celebrated fest, Ritchie continues to perform with Violent Femmes, whose most recent album Hotel Last Resort was released last month via PIAS.
The alternative rocker and curator was one of eight state winners, announced at the gala party at the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.
Hosted by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre (AMC), the Art Music Awards are said to be the only nationwide event in these parts to acknowledge the achievements and creative successes of Australian composers, performers and educators in the genres of contemporary classical music, jazz and experimental music.
The host was Jonathan Biggins with music curation by jazz pianist Barney McAll, and the line-up of presenters included CEO of the Australia Council for the Arts, Adrian Collette AM; Create NSW executive director of Investment & Engagement, Elizabeth W. Scott; and artistic director for SIMA, Zoe Hauptmann.
See the full list of winners below.
Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music The Necks
Vocal / Choral Work of the Year Title: The Howling Girls Composer: Damien Ricketson; with Adena Jacobs (director) Performer: Sydney Chamber Opera: Jane Sheldon (soprano); artists from The House That Dan Built (ensemble)
Jazz Work of the Year Title: Trombone Song Cycle Composer: Joshua Kyle and Andrew Murray Performer: Joshua Kyle (voice), James Greening, James Macauley, Jordan Murray & Adrian Sherriff (trombones) with Andrew Murray (conductor)
Instrumental Work of the Year Title: Ignis Composer: Mary Finsterer Performer: James Wannan (viola d’amore) and Christopher Pidcock (cello)
Orchestral Work of the Year Title: Implacable Gifts (Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra) Composer: Carl Vine Performer: Kathryn Stott (piano), Piers Lane (piano), West Australian Symphony Orchestra with Rory Macdonald (conductor) Publisher: Hal Leonard/Faber
Performance of the Year Performer: Speak Percussion with Jessica Aszodi Title: Atlas of the Sky Composer: Liza Lim; texts by Bei Dao and Eliot Weinberger Publisher: Universal Music Publishing MGB obo Ricordi Berlin
Award for Excellence by an Organisation Zephyr Quartet for their 2018 activities and 20 years of sustained contribution to the local, national and international arts scene
Award for Excellence by an Individual Lyn Williams for significant contribution to the creation and performance of choral music in Australia
Award for Excellence in Music Education West Australian Symphony Orchestra for Crescendo, El Sistema-inspired free music education program
Award for Excellence in a Regional Area Steel City Strings for activities in 2018 and commitment to new Australian music
Award for Excellence in Experimental Music Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music for their ongoing contribution
Award for Excellence in Jazz Ross McHenry for recording, international touring, residencies and commissions
2019 ART MUSIC AWARDS – STATE and TERRITORY AWARDS
ACT Award for Excellence by an Organisation Canberra International Music Festival for sustained creative excellence, exceptional growth and cultivation of Australian music
NSW Award for Excellence in Jazz Ellen Kirkwood for [A]part and other projects and activities in 2018
NT Award for Excellence in a Regional Area Warren H. Williams, Michael Sollis and Barkly Arts for One Sky Many Stories, inspiring audiences as they explore their relationship to the night sky, Indigenous culture and the world around us
QLD Award for Excellence in Experimental Music Leah Barclay for Listening Underwater, a large-scale experimental music and acoustic ecology project
SA Award for Excellence by an Individual Gabriella Smart for activity in 2018
TAS Award for Excellence by an Individual Brian Ritchie for sustained contribution to the Australian music sector as a performer, curator and mentor
VIC Award for Excellence by an Individual Cat Hope for leadership in the composition, performance and education of new music in Australia
WA Jazz Work of the Year Daniel Susnjar for Onward and Upward
Lars Brandle has reported at the frontline of the international music industry for almost 20 years. A former musician, Lars joined the American music trade “bible” Billboard in 2000 and went on to serve as Global News Editor, based in London. Now Billboard’s Australia correspondent and senior writer with The Industry Observer, Lars’ voice has been heard on CNN, the BBC and ABC, American Public Media's Marketplace and South Africa's EastCoast Radio, and he has spoken at Midem in Cannes, Music Matters in Singapore, Amsterdam Dance Event, London's City Showcase and at industry gatherings on both sides of the Tasman. His works have been published by Reuters, Media Week, Spin, and The Hollywood Reporter, and he has featured as a pundit in the Australian Financial Review, Business Review Weekly and Britain’s The Independent.