A surprisingly large number of Australia’s most successful classical musicians owe their careers in part to a unique UK-based charitable organisation called the Australian Music Foundation. Since 1975 it has been quietly supporting dozens of young Australians in their study programs overseas through private donations and philanthropy. Recipients over the years have included many of our most talented and acclaimed artists. In past years these have included pianists Duncan Gifford, Bernadette Harvey and Jayson Gillham, violinist Erkki Veltheim, singers Elizabeth Campbell and Andrew Goodwin, and guitarists Craig Ogden, Aleksandr Tsiboulski and Slava Grigoryan – and that’s just a few of them.
So when final auditions were over at London’s Royal Academy of Music on 13 October, it was interesting to see who the grant winners would be this year. Eleven recipients were announced, three of whom took out named awards. Melbourne-born clarinettist Magdalenna Krstevska won the AMF Nora Goodridge Developing Artist Award, Queensland euphonium player James Blackford took out the AMF Guy Parsons Award (Portland House Foundation), and Sydney born soprano Yvette Keong received the AMF Nora Goodridge Young Artist Award. Unnamed awards went to violinists Victoria Wong, Courtenay Cleary and Mitzi Gardner, pianists David Soo and Robbin Reza, cellists Waynne Kwon and Guillaume Wang, and bass baritone Jeremy Kleeman.
The Australian Music Foundation supports instrumentalists up to the age of 26, and singers, conductors, accompanists, repetiteurs and composers up to the age of 30. The organisation says it considers applications from students or who are already part way through undergraduate study in an institution in the UK, USA or Europe, or have been offered a place in postgraduate study. It also considers students who are seeking overseas private tuition. Recipients are chosen on the basis of “exceptional ability, financial need, and potential to pursue their musical education overseas”. See all the award information here.
Yvonne Kenny, who was named 2019 Australian of the Year in the UK in January, is one of the Australian Music Foundation’s two chairpersons. The other is Peter Tregear, former head of the Australian National University’s School of Music and now an honorary research fellow at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. The foundation’s Patron is former Liberal politician George Brandis, presently Australian High Commissioner to the UK.
Application dates for AMF’s 2020 round of awards have not been announced, but all the latest can be found here. An additional jazz award is being proposed for next year.