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by Tony Roma
posted 12/07/2020

2020 Freedman Classical Fellowship Prize

Four Bright Young Stars Announced to Compete for the Prestigious

2020 Freedman Classical Fellowship Prize

Following a nation-wide search, four finalists have been selected to compete for the 2020 Freedman Classical Fellowship which, by chance, includes three musicians based in Victoria, violinist Harry Ward (24), cellists James Morley (24) and Richard Narroway (29) plus NSW violinist Grace Clifford (22).

In any ordinary year the cash prize would be awarded at a deciding concert at Sydney Opera House, but in 2020,the four finalists will compete for the $21,000 cash prize without a live audience in front of the panel of esteemed judges.  The 2020 judging panel will include Director of the Canberra International Music Festival Roland Peelman, percussionist and Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring Claire Edwardes, and Senior Lecturer in Conducting and Opera Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dr Stephen Mould.

The life changing prize enables recipients to undertake a proposed creative and career-defining project. The opportunities for the winner have proved invaluable since the first Fellowships were awarded back in 2001 with previous Fellows reading like a Who’s Who of Australian art music including Genevieve Lacey, William Barton, Joseph Tawadros, Claire Edwards and Eugene Uhgetti.

Each year, nine distinguished artists from around Australia nominate Australian classical instrumentalists aged 30 years or under resulting in 16 nominees who become the Fellowship candidates. Each nominee must submit video recordings of their musical performances and the description of a career-building project which they will carry out with the support of the prize.

This year finalists will be assisted by a special mentor, recorder player and Chair of the Australian Music Centre Genevieve Lacey, to lift their project designs to even higher levels. The winner is selected on the basis of the submitted materials, their project proposal and the live performance.

‘We are grateful for the commitment and vision of Kathy and Laurence Freedman of the Freedman Foundation who have not skipped a beat in backing Australia’s creative artists in this extraordinary year”, says organiser Dr Richard Letts, Director of The Music Trust, manager of the Fellowships.


The Freedman Music Fellowships are among the most prestigious music awards in Australia. The Fellowships are awarded each year to an Australian classical and a jazz musician. They were conceived by Laurence Freedman and Dr Richard Letts and first awarded in 2001, and funded by the Freedman Foundation. The maximum age of candidates is 35 years for jazz and 30 years for classical. Distinguished musicians from around the country are invited to nominate candidates from amongst whom three finalists are selected for each one. The Fellowships are administered and produced by Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA).


Grace Clifford (22) was Australian Young Performer of the Year at age 16 in 2014. She is the Adelaide Symphony’s first ever Emerging Artist in Association, performing a concerto in each consecutive season. She has performed concertos with the SSO, MSO, WASO and the Malaysian Philharmonic under Wigglesworth. She tours nationally each year with Selby and Friends and has performed in major US cities.

Grace is a graduate of Curtis Music Institute and is currently enrolled at the New England Conservatory in Boston on a Presidential Scholarship. She began tertiary studies at the Sydney Conservatorium and in 2012 took 4th prize in the junior section of the Yehudi Menuhin Competition in Beijing.

Project: ‘My project reflects my belief in the importance of access to music education and arts programs for all children, and wishes to celebrate the enduring contribution and importance of some of Australia’s historic Schools of the Arts.’ She would do this via a performing tour. She would like to commission a five-minute work for solo violin by an Indigenous Australia composer and record the work. If funds remain, she would use them to cover travel costs to meet existing international performance engagements with orchestras whose COVID-19 experience has limited their ability to meet these costs.

Harry Ward (24) has performed as soloist with the Xiamen Philharmonic, Hangzhou Philharmonic, Orguesta Sinfomica de Michoacan and Tasmanian Symphony. In chamber music, he has performed alongside members of the Emerson, Michelangelo, Belcea, Ehnes and Australian String Quartets and in concert with the late Joseph Silverstein. In 2019, he was a member of the Emerging Artists program of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and is currently part of Musica Viva’s Futuremaker program.

Ward was winner of the Australian National Youth Concerto Competition and a finalist in the ABC Young Performer Awards. He has studied at institutions in Germany and the USA, and before that at the Sydney Conservatorium. He and is currently a student at ANAM.

Project: Inventa, a live video album reflecting on what it means to be a modern-day classical musician in a post-Covid era. Repertoire: works by Bach, Scelsi, and a solo improvisation.

Harry writes: ‘I have always been attracted to the idea of an artists’ collective. An incredibly stimulating environment where individuals are brought together for an artistic purpose, where the journey is as important as the result. As such, I do not envisage this collective as strictly symphony orchestra, a quartet or a chamber ensemble, perhaps something more fluid than that. An ensemble that constantly challenges the standard classical musician’s career, a place where improvising is held in high regard and commissions and the classics are of equal importance. ‘The format will be a live video/album.

James Morley (24) has studied in Adelaide and at the Sydney Conservatorium and is currently enrolled at ANAM. In 2019 he was awarded ANAM’s Outstanding First-Year Prize and won the Audience Choice Award in the ANAM Concerto Competition. He has won other significant awards and has performed as concerto and recital soloist in a number of Australian cities.

He is a casual cellist with the MSO, has been principal cello with the Australian Youth Orchestra and last year was a member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra Collective. He is a member of two string quartets and Adelaide early music ensemble Continuo Continuum. He has collaborated closely with many composers, mostly with an electro-acoustic focus. He plans a concert series in 2021 featuring 20th and 21st century works and premieres of works by Australian composers.

Project: There are two elements to this creative project. The principle component will be the creation of a virtuosic solo cello work, developed and performed by James in collaboration with long-time associate and composer Johannes MacDonald. This work will include electro-acoustic components, and feature an array of unique extended techniques devised during a period of creative collaboration and instrumental experimentation by James and the composer.

The second element will involve a collaboration with a young Melbourne-based contemporary film-maker in association with Gertrude Contemporary [a Melbourne gallery]. This collaboration will lead to the commissioning of a film in response to the musical work, to be presented in conjunction with a live performance of the new musical work as well as presented in various on-line settings. The Freedman Fellowship would enable the commissioning of the new works and performances at festivals and venues in Australia and overseas.

Richard Narroway (29) has returned to Australia after ten years overseas and is a member of the faculty at the Melbourne Conservatorium. During that period, he earned degrees from Juilliard and Northwestern, with a Doctorate at the University of Michigan, and gave performances across Australia, North America, Europe and Asia in venues such as Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Koerner Hall and Sydney Opera House.

Project: ‘My goal is to put together a professional recording and national tour of ten works for cello and piano written by ten Australian composers, all inspired by Australia’s climate, natural environment, and cultural history…The album would be steeped in Sculthorpe’s legacy of writing music that conveys a deeply personal and urgent investment in Australia’s climate and Indigenous history. As such, Sculthorpe’s own Djilile for cello and piano will be the first piece on the album, followed by nine works written by a diverse group of Australian composers still living today.’

Existing works by Edwards, Greenbaum, Paul Stanhope, Hindson and Boyd would be included along with four newly commissioned works. The tour, with pianist, would take place over two weeks, in the six state capital cities.

In addition to its intrinsic merit, the project would serve to re-establish Richard Narroway in Australia after a ten-year absence. The Australian tour could also serve as a springboard for presenting the program around America and even, possibly, Europe.