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by Tony Roma
posted 17/09/2018

2018 Freedman Classical Fellowship Concert

After a nation-wide search for the Australia’s best young classical musicians aged 30 and under, the three finalists – violinist Courtenay Cleary, percussionist Thea Rossen and clarinettist Oliver Shermacher – will compete live in concert for the title of 2018 Freedman Classical Fellow, and the career-changing $20,000 cash prize to undertake a proposed creative project. The winner will be announced by the panel of judges on the night.

Courtenay Cleary recently received her Bachelor of Music degree with first-class honours from the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied with professor Maureen Smith. In 2017 Courtenay performed as a soloist for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other distinguished guests at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Commonwealth Service. Courtenay is a core member of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and also plays casually with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria.

Thea  Rossen  is  a  percussionist,  creator  and  educator  based  in  Melbourne.  She  is  director  of  the  Ad  Lib  Collective,  an  ensemble  focused  on  concert  curation,  commissioning  new  Australian  works  and  community  engagement.  Her  work  with  the  group  has  recently  taken  her  to  a  residency  at  the  Banff  Centre  for  Arts  and  Creativity  in  Canada  where  she  developed  a  program  of  works  dealing  with the  issues  surrounding  climate change.

Oliver Schermacher  is  a versatile  performer  who  is  gaining  recognition  as  one  of  Australia’s  finest  young musicians.  As  a  Grand  Finalist  in  the  2018  Young  Performers  Award,  Oliver  was  the  winner  of  the  Audience  Choice  and  the  Triffitt  Bequest  after  performing  the  Weber  Clarinet  Concerto  No.1  with  the  Sydney  Symphony  Orchestra. Oliver  has  performed  solo  recitals  in  Australia,  New  Zealand  and  Germany  and  has  played  in  concert  halls  around  Europe  and  China, including  the  Concertgebouw  and  the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing.

Whilst the judges deliberate, there will be a very special guest performance from former Freedman Fellow, didgeridoo player William Barton. William won the Freedman Classical Fellowship in 2003, and this is an extraordinary opportunity to see him perform.

This free concert is hosted and broadcast by ABC Classic FM. Your host, ABC Classic FM presenter and pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska is also a former Freedman Fellow.

The Freedman Fellowship Awards are among the most prestigious offered to Australian musicians. They are awarded annually to a classical music instrumentalist and a jazz musician. Distinguished musicians from around the country are invited to nominate candidates from amongst whom three finalists are selected.

The Freedman Classical Fellowship is managed by The Music Trust and administered and produced by Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA).

What: 2018 Freedman Classical Fellowship Concert

When: Saturday September 29 @ 7:30pm

Where: Eugene Goosens Hall ABC Sydney

To Find Out More & Book Online Click Here


Courtenay Cleary would like to undertake a series of three concerts showcasing new and  existing  Australian solo  and  chamber  works.  The  existing  works  she has chosen are by composers  that have inspired  her  as  an  Australian  artist  and  shaped  her  musical  career  thus  far.  In  addition,  new  works  will  include  compositions  for  string  quartet,  solo  violin,  and  violin  and  piano by  Benjamin  Heim  and  Paul  Stanhope that are on  the  cutting  edge  of  contemporary,  immersive  Australian  music. The concert  series  will  result  in  a  second  collaborative  EP with  Heim, which  Courtenay hopes to present  to  New  Amsterdam  records  for  future  release.

Funds  from  the  Freedman  Music  Fellowship  would  allow Thea Rossen to delve  deep  into  a  collaboration  with  the  internationally  renowned  percussionist  Maria  Finkelmeier  and  her  ensemble  Masary  Studios  in  Boston, Massachusetts.  The project  is  a  large  scale  immersive  performance  piece  that  speaks  to  the  ideas  surrounding  climate  change.  The  new  work  will  feature  seven  percussionists  from  Masary  Studios  and  the  Ad  Lib  Collective with Thea  performing  as  the  soloist  and  Maria  as  the  main  composer.  Lighting  design  and  projection  mapping  will also be an  integral  part  of  the  performance,  designed  and  performed  live  by  Sam  Okerstrom  Lang,  member  of  Masary  Studios.

Oliver Shermacher’s goal  is to  curate  and  perform  a  recital  that  will  synthesise his  extensive  experience  in  theatre  with  his  training as  a  classical  musician.  He will be  commissioning  composer  Alice  Chance  in  consultation  with  director  Julia  Robertson  to write  a  30-40  minute  piece  for  Solo  Clarinet  involving  audio-visual  effects  and  spoken  word,  paired with  a performance of  Stockhausen’s  Der  Kleine  Harlekin.  This  collaboration  will  be  creating  a  unique  paradigm  of  performance  which  will captivate  audiences  and  allow  him  to  develop  his  career  in  platforms  outside  of the  concert  hall.  The  Freedman Fellowship  will  allow  him  to  realise  this  performance  in  a  two  week  tour  of  intimate  and  immersive  venues  in Australia,  New  Zealand  and  Germany with  a  rehearsal  and  production  period  of  two  months.


Elaine Chia is CEO of the City Recital Hall and was formerly was the Director, International Signature Projects at the Australia Council for the Arts. She has worked on numerous international projects and led orchestral tours to Asia, Europe and South America.

Raf Wilson has a background routed in Australia’s orchestral and music sectors and spent six years as Director of Artistic Planning at Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, before taking up his current role as the Director of Artistic Planning for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Since joining Sydney Symphony Orchestra in late 2016, he has he produced numerous recordings, and innovative concert performances including Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antartica, and Australia’s first opera, Don John of Austria, by Isaac Nathan.

Sonya Lifschitz is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative, fearless and fiercely creative musical voices. Her recent performance of the world premiere “Stalin’s Piano” by Robert Davidson at the Canberra International Music Festival received a 4.5 stars review in the Limelight Magazine, and a recent performance of Larry Sitsky’s piano trio, Sandakan, commissioned by her ensemble Press, Play, received the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Contemporary Masters Award for the best performance of new work.

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