Young Performer Awards to be discontinued

2015 YPA winner, Lloyd Van’t Hoff
Graham Strahle
| December 21, 2015

Just as the final days of 2015 tick by comes alarming news that one of Australia’s most prestigious music competitions, the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer Awards, appears to be facing closure. Limelight Magazine reports that it obtained email correspondence from Symphony Australia which states that the annual awards will “not be continuing into the future”. Symphony Australia, which provides support services to Australia’s six state symphony orchestras, runs Young Performer Awards in partnership with the ABC, which inaugurated the competition in 1944.

The email Limelight has obtained continues: “As a result of [the planned] changes, Symphony Australia will no longer be running the YPA and we have been informed by the ABC that it is also not in a position to re-assume responsibility for directly managing the competition”.

Belt-tightening appears to be the reason for the decision. Limelight’s Maxim Boon writes: “The decision to discontinue the awards is in response to a major restructure of Symphony Australia’s activities, which will see the cessation of all national training programmes for emerging musicians from 2017”.

No official announcement about YPA’s future has been made. Nevertheless, this is seriously concerning news because YPA has occupied a prime position in young artist development in this country ever since it started seven decades ago. It has been the backbone in launching the careers of many of Australia’s most outstanding musicians such as Brett Dean, Julian Smiles, Duncan Gifford, Howard Penny and Roger Woodward – just to name a handful. More recent winners include Amy Dickson, Kristian Winther and Sophie Rowell.

The competition “is an opportunity like no other for up-and-coming Australian classical artists,” says the ABC itself, on its website. This year the prize money was more lucrative than ever, after a new Triffitt Prize was added for best performance of an Australian work.

We can only hope that with a cash-starved Symphony Australia, the ABC will come up with a solution to save YPA – and quickly.


  1. Wendy Galloway

    This is terrible news. Our young musicians are world class and recognized and welcomed all over the world. There is money for our world class sportsmen and women – but where is the support for our brilliant musicians?
    Money should be found and quickly to continue the proud tradition of the ypa. It deserves better recognition and the admiration of all Australians. Our fine young musicians should get the exposure and experience and assistance that they deserve.
    The Geelong based Competition “The Australian Youth Classical Music Competition” has continued for 20 years to offer substantial prizes to brilliant young instrumentalists.
    Many of our winners have also been winners in the ypa competition. Music is a performing art and the opportunity to perform to audiences is a vital part of the development of these young artists. Please find a way for this important sector of fine music in Australia to continue.
    Wendy Galloway OAM – Trust member “Australian Youth Classical Music Competition”

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