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Melbourne Cellist Wins The 2020 Music Trust Freedman Classical Fellowship

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The prestigious $20,000 award is offered to an exceptional instrumentalist annually.

Melbourne Cellist Wins The 2020 Music Trust Freedman Classical Fellowship

29 year old Melbourne cellist Richard Narroway has been announced winner of The Music Trust's 2020 Freedman Classical Fellowship. The prestigious $20,000 award is offered to an exceptional instrumentalist annually.

"This is such an incredible honour and a huge boost for me during what has been a rather strange time here in Melbourne! I am so grateful to the panel for believing in my playing and my vision" says Narroway.

A few months ago, Richard returned to Australia after ten years of study and performances in the USA. He had great plans to re-establish himself in Australia but walked straight into the COVID crisis and soon, the Melbourne lockdown. The fellowship will enable him to set up a post-COVID national performance tour, performing Australian compositions. "This fellowship brings with it such a wonderful opportunity to carry out a project that I am deeply passionate about, and that will allow me to connect with all kinds of communities and audiences around the country."

Normally, The Music Trust's Freedman Classical Fellowship competition would culminate at a deciding concert at the Sydney Opera House. Here, three finalists would be judged on their performances, as well as proposals for a creative project they would undertake should they be named as the Freedman Classical Fellow.

However, 2020 presented unusual circumstances, in which a live performance component did not take place due to COVID-19. This year instead of three finalists, the contenders were just so good that the judges selected four. The finalists were assessed on their submitted recordings and proposed projects, as well as live interviews via video conference. The 2020 finalists were Richard Narroway (cello), Grace Clifford (violin), James Morley (violin) and Harry Ward (cello).

2020 Freedman Classical Judge and Senior Lecturer in Conducting and Operatic Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Dr Stephen Mould said "Even during challenging COVID-19 times, where there is a widespread uncertainty as to how and when the live performance sector might recover, each finalist produced imaginative and aspirational proposals, appropriate to the current status quo. They displayed creativity, ambitious aspiration, and a desire to find connection with the wider global community beyond the 'classical music' audience".

"Richard Narroway displayed a maturity and sense of arrival in his career," says Claire Edwardes, Director of Ensemble Offspring and 2020 Freedman judge. "We very much hope that this fellowship will provide him with the opportunity to arrive back onto the Australian scene, having lived overseas in recent years. He is certainly one to watch out for."

The third judge, Roland Peelman, Director of the Canberra International Music Festival, had some broader observations. "As always, the Freedman fellowship draws in exceptional musicians at the beginning of a big career. This year's Fellowship process, affected by COVID-19, border closures and lock downs, did not fail to draw out some big ideas about music, renewal and audience engagement. Music's agency in the social fabric of society, its community impact and untold potential in creating a better world were at the forefront of this year's proposals like never before."

Richard Narroway's tour will traverse great distances across the remote outback. He will perform ten Australian works for solo cello, some of them specially commissioned and some, existing works by celebrated composers Elena Kats Chernin, Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, and Carl Vine. Sculthorpe was a great composer for the cello. An album of the tour will be released steeped in Sculthorpe's legacy of writing music that conveys a deeply personal and urgent investment in Australia's landscape, fauna and Indigenous history. Richard plans also to film his journey and produce a documentary, perhaps for television broadcast.

Dr Richard Letts from The Music Trust comments

Absent the usual finalists' concert, attention this year shifted to their projects, each of them quite distinctive. A complex creation of new composition, art and video; a concert tour of tiny country halls and a big contribution to a music for food program; showing the audience how performances, including musical improvisation, are created. The winner's national tour of Australian music.

The Freedman Foundation hangs on through thick and thin in support of the Fellowship and we all are very appreciative of Laurence and Kathy Freedman.

The Music Trust Freedman Music Fellowships

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 (usually) three finalists are selected. The Freedman Classical Fellowship is managed by The Music Trust, administered and produced by Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA), and funded by the Freedman Foundation.

Praised by Gramophone Magazine for his "captivating sensitivity" and "exhilarating authority," Australian cellist Richard Narroway enjoys an international career as a sought-after performer, recording artist, and educator. He has given performances across Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia, in prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Koerner Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. Narroway is a member of the faculty at the Melbourne Conservatorium. During his ten years in the US he earned degrees from Juilliard and Northwestern, with a Doctorate at the University of Michigan.

Richard's numerous competition titles include top prizes at the 2010 Stulberg International String Competition, Third Beijing International Cello Competition, and the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition. In 2010 he was named a recipient of the prestigious Australian Music Foundation Young Musician Award, an honour reserved for Australia's most promising young artists.

A passionate advocate of new music, Richard's collaborative projects with composers have taken him all around the globe, resulting in premiere performances in the United States, China, Australia, and New Zealand. From 2016-18 he performed as part of the resident contemporary ensemble at the Aspen Music Festival, premiering dozens of new works. In 2018 he also became a founding member of the Four Corners Ensemble, a group dedicated to celebrating diversity through new music.



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