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ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards

YPA 2015 Finals

The Finals took place in Hobart, in three stages between October 29 and November 7.

The 11 finalists competed in three rounds of competition including recital, chamber music and concerto performances. The Recital Round took place on October 29 & 30 with each of the 11 performers playing their full recital program over four concerts in the Hobart Town Hall. The six finalists selected to proceed to Chamber Music Round collaborated with professional musicians to perform their selected work in two concerts on November 3 in the Hobart Town Hall.

The last stage of the finals was held at the Federation Concert Hall, with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Fritzsch on Saturday 7 November. On Saturday 7 November, Lloyd Van’t Hoff was announced the 2015 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the year after a spectacular performance of the Copland Clarinet Concerto. The concert also included thrilling performances from two other finalists, Chris Cartlidge (VIC) performing the Rubbra Viola Concerto and Lily Higson-Spence (QLD) performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

The three young performers had battled their way through two previous rounds of competition to have the chance to play their concertos in this concert which was broadcast live on ABC Classic FM and wonderfully presented by Christopher Lawrence.

The winner was announced by Symphony Australia Chief Executive Officer, Kate Lidbetter in a prize ceremony following the concert.

Chris and Lily both receive a cash prize of $10,000 and Lloyd takes home a $25,000 cash prize, multiple copies of a CD of his winning performances, a feature interview in Limelight magazine and two concert engagements with one of the Symphony Australia network orchestras.

The Nelly Apt Scholarship for 2015 was awarded to Lily Higson-Spence. Lily receives a travel scholarship of up to $5,000, return transfers from Tel Aviv and a further half scholarship to attend the International Summer Mastercourse at the Keshet Eilon Music Centre in Israel.

The Triffitt prize ($6,000) made possible through a generous bequest from Dr Gregory Byron Triffitt was awarded to Lloyd Van’t Hoff. The following prizes were also awarded in the earlier stages of the Finals;

Best Recital ($6,000): Lily Higson-Spence
Best Chamber Music Performance ($6,000): Christopher Cartlidge
Best Performance of an Australian Work ($6,000): Christopher Cartlidge

The winner of the People’s Choice Prize ($6,000) was announced on the breakfast show on ABC Classic FM on Monday November 9 and went to Lily Higson-Spence.


The 11 performers who will compete in the Finals are;

Aaron Liu 2Aaron Liu (Piano – QLD)

Melbourne-born Aaron Liu completed his Bachelor of Music in Advanced Performance (Honours) at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 2013 with Oleg Stepanov. During his undergraduate degree, he was awarded prizes each year for achieving the highest mark in performance. In addition, he also received the Ruby C. Cooling Prize, Minnie May Bussey Prize, Basil Jones Sonata Prize and the Margaret Nickson Prize. He is currently completing a Master of Music in Performance at the Queensland Conservatorium.

In 2014, Aaron won first place in the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition and received the Kantor Encouragement Award at the Melbourne Recital Centre Great Romantics Competition. Other prizes have included winning the Yamaha Australian Youth Piano Competition, Queensland Piano Competition (Music Teachers Association of Queensland), Yamaha Recitals Scholarship, Nora Baird Bursary and many other awards. Aaron has also participated in the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (Japan) and the Sydney International Piano Competition.

Performance highlights have included concerts in the Tyalgum Music Festival, Karana Downs Hinterland Festival, Theme & Variations Emerging Artists Concert Series, Yamaha Recitals Australia Showcase, and the ANAM Piano! Festival. He has had recitals broadcast on ABC Classic FM and Brisbane’s 4MBS.

Chris Cartlidge (Viola – VIC)Chris Cartlidge 1

Sydney-born Chris Cartlidge began playing the violin at the age of seven, and the viola at 14 whilst a student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School. He later studied on full scholarship at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and the Australian National Academy of Music, and was the recipient of several awards including the University of Tasmania Director’s Prize and Dean’s Roll of Excellence. His teachers have included Josephine St Leon and Roger Benedict.

In 2010, he was appointed Principal Viola of the Australian Youth Orchestra for their European Tour and also selected for the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Emerging Artists’ Program. He has been a full-time member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2011, where he has appeared on many occasions as Principal Viola, and where he is currently Acting Associate Principal Viola. He has appeared as guest principal with Orchestra Victoria and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and guest associate principal with both Victorian Opera and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. He has also worked with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and is now regularly invited to perform with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Chris is in great demand as a chamber musician, having given concerts alongside Garrick Ohlsson, Kolja Blacher, Sarah Chang and Kristian Winther, and he now performs chamber music regularly in major Melbourne concert venues and throughout Australia.

Ennes MehmedbasicEnnes Mehmedbasic (Oboe – NSW)

Ennes Mehmedbasic began playing oboe at age 11, and currently studies with Alexandre Oguey. Since 2013 he has played principal oboe with the Australian Youth Orchestra with whom he took part in an international tour with Christoph Eschenbach and Joshua Bell, and participated in the AYO Chamber Players program at the 2013 Musica Viva Festival.

Ennes has been winner of the junior (2008) and intermediate (2011) divisions of the Australasian Double Reed Competition. He was also the overall winner and recipient of the KPO Player’s Award in the Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2012 NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition. In 2014 he was awarded the Fine Music 102.5 Young Virtuoso Award, and was a finalist of the Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Doctors Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship.

Ennes has performed as a soloist with the Eastern Sydney Chamber Orchestra, Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra 143, Sydney Youth Orchestra, and the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He also performed as a soloist in the 2012 Encore concert at the Sydney Opera House, and in the same year recorded an oboe sonata by George Palmer, with pianist Evgeny Ukhanov. He has participated in masterclasses with internationally acclaimed oboists Diana Doherty, François Leleux, Nick Deutsch, Gordon Hunt and Alexei Ogrintchouk.

Ennes is currently in his third year at the University of Sydney, studying Advanced Mathematics.

Kiran PhatakKiran Phatak (Flute – WA)

Perth-born Kiran Phatak studied at the Australian National Academy of Music from 2011 to 2013 under the tutelage of Margaret Crawford and Virginia Taylor. Previously, he was awarded a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Australia where he studied with Michael Waye and Andrew Nicholson and won the Janet Anderson Prize for Woodwind, the Wesley Scholarship and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award of Distinction.

In 2014 Kiran performed concertos with Orchestra Victoria and won the prize for Best Performance of an Australian Work at the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. In 2013 he won First Prize in both the Australian International Flute Competition and the Orchestral Excerpts Competition at the Australian Flute Festival. He is a casual musician for Orchestra Victoria and the West Australian and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and was Principal Flute of the Australian Youth Orchestra from 2010 to 2011.

As part of the award-winning Arcadia Quintet he has participated in a fellowship at ANAM, and performed as guest artist at the Four Winds Festival and the Melbourne Festival. In 2015 Kiran and Arcadia will be continuing their busy schedule of concerts and community work, as well as performing at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival.

Lily Higson-SpenceLily Higson-Spence (Violin – QLD)

Lily Higson-Spence began violin lessons at the age of six as a student of the Suzuki method before continuing with Kerry Smith. She currently studies with Robin Wilson at the Australian National Academy of Music. In early 2015 she was selected to participate in the Keshet Eilon International Summer Mastercourse in Israel to work with some of the world’s leading violinists. In 2014 Lily was awarded first prize at the Alf and Pearl Pollard Memorial Awards in Sydney and was a semifinalist at the Gisborne International Music Competition. In both 2014 and 2013 she was awarded third prize in the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition, additionally receiving the Audience Choice Award last year.

A keen chamber musician, Lily was invited this year to participate in ensemble projects at the Australian National Academy of Music and become a member of an ANAM string quartet. In 2014 she led a string quartet at the University of Queensland and performed a range of chamber music amongst professional musicians at the Bangalow Music Festival. Lily has twice been a finalist in the National Youth Concerto Competition, and has performed on television in Australia and France, recorded for 4MBS and has appeared as soloist on several occasions with the Mueller International Chamber Orchestra.

LloydLloyd Van’t Hoff (Clarinet – QLD)

A Queensland native, Lloyd Van’t Hoff studied clarinet at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Paul Dean and Floyd Williams. In his time there, he was a soloist with the Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra and won the Postgraduate Award. After graduating with Honours in 2011, Lloyd began studies at the Australian National Academy of Music with David Thomas, where he completed an ANAM Fellowship as a member of the award-winning Arcadia Wind Quintet and was awarded the prestigious Director’s Prize.

In 2013 Lloyd travelled to Europe as Principal Clarinet of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and in the same year was the recipient of the AYO Accenture Australia Scholarship. He has had casual and contractual engagements with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, he has performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Orchestra Victoria at the Melbourne Recital Centre. 

Lloyd is an avid supporter of both contemporary and Australian music, recently playing with new music ensembles eighth blackbird and Bang on a Can. Highlights of 2015 include masterclasses with John Luther Adams in Banff, Canada, and the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music.

Mee Na_YPA_headshot colourMee Na Lojewski (Cello – VIC)

Now based in Melbourne, South Korean-born Mee Na Lojewski grew up in Sydney where a Musica Viva performance in primary school inspired her to learn the cello.

Mee Na is currently a resident Fellow at the Australian National Academy of Music as the founder of new chamber music ensemble Affinity Collective. She completed the Professional Performance Program at ANAM in 2014 studying with Howard Penny. She holds a Master of Music (Performance) from Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying with Susan Blake, and the Royal Academy of Music, London, studying with Mats Lidström. She has participated in masterclasses with artists such as Steven Isserlis, Johannes Moser, Torleif Thedéen, Truls Mørk, the Sitkovetsky Trio, and the Tokyo and Brodsky String Quartets.

Recent highlights include the Melbourne Festival’s Quartetthaus, the Huntington Festival, and performances with the Omega Ensemble and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Germany.

As a principal player with Sydney Chamber Opera, Mee Na has performed Australian premieres by Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell Davies, Jack Symonds and, at the 2014 Sydney Festival, Kurtág and George Benjamin. She performs casually with the Melbourne Symphony and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with whom she toured Japan and Korea in 2011. She was Principal Cello of the Australian Youth Orchestra’s international tour to China and Europe (2010) and a member of the Sydney Symphony Sinfonia (2008-09).

Peter de JagerPeter de Jager (Piano – VIC)

Peter de Jager is a Melbourne-based pianist, harpsichordist and composer. He is a sought-after solo and collaborative artist for standard, early and contemporary repertoire, and has had several years’ experience in musical theatre and cabaret.

He is currently an Associate Artist at the Australian National Academy of Music where he studied from 2005 to 2008 and was resident Emerging Composer in 2012. He has received commissions from Astra, Speak Percussion and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. With actress Bethany Simons he co-wrote and performed Reception: The Musical which had a highly successful debut season at Melbourne’s Butterfly Club in 2014.

Peter was winner of the inaugural Australian International Chopin Competition held at the Australian National University in Canberra, and achieved fifth place and best Australian competitor in the 2013 Southern Highlands International Piano Competition. In 2009, 2010 and 2013 he was chosen from applicants worldwide to participate in the Lucerne Festival Academy, performing modern European music for orchestra, chamber ensemble and piano duo under the baton and artistic direction of Pierre Boulez. He is the 2014 Freedman Classical Fellow.

With oboist Ben Opie, Peter appears on the critically acclaimed recording French Sonatas (Masters Performers MP027), and a solo album is forthcoming.

Sonja Schebeck_c. Louis Bloomfield PhotographySonja Schebeck (Violin – NSW)

Sydney-born Sonja Schebeck became entranced by the violin at a Sydney Symphony Baby Prom at the age of three. Her teachers have included Barbara Hayward, Christopher Kimber (Sydney Conservatorium) and Florian Zwiauer (Konservatorium Wien).

Sonja maintains a diverse portfolio of projects with a special focus on fusing classical music with elements of modern circus and physical theatre. Since 2010 she has toured extensively across the UK, Europe and Australia as duo-partner to Nigel Kennedy, a member of his Orchestra of Life, and guest musician with the Nigel Kennedy Jazz Quintet. She leads the Extra Sounds Ensemble (Krakow), whose debut CD Metamorphoses with Alicja Smietana and Pekka Kuusisto was released in April 2015. She guests regularly with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, English Session Orchestra and Concertino Wien.

Since 2007 Sonja has worked closely with Australian composer Chloé Charody, premiering many works including the ballet-opera Magdalene and The Phoenix caprice for solo violin at the Musikverein, Vienna. Their circus-opera The Carnival (composed by Charody) appeared in Sydney, Melbourne Fringe Festival, London’s West End and Hamburg, with Australian shows planned for 2016/17. They are currently working on Charody’s Phoenix Concerto for Violin, Fire and Orchestra.

Sonja is currently based between Australia and the UK/Europe as a freelance performer whilst creating her own interdisciplinary projects, among them a ‘freestyle’ chamber orchestra, Spiegel Duo (with pianist/multi-instrumentalist Lisa Chou), ‘PyroViolinist’ fireshow and The Harlequin Court Orchestra street performance collective. She appears as violinist and fire artist for Igudesman & Joo’s League of X-traordinary Musicians with recent performances at the Vienna Konzerthaus New Year’s Eve Gala and the 2015 Lucerne Festival.

Vatche JambazianVatche Jambazian (Piano – NSW)

Originally from Sydney, Vatche Jambazian made his international debut at the age of 16 in Armenia, performing a televised recital. His teachers at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music have included Daniel Herscovitch, Natalia Sheludiakova and Nikolay Evrov, and he has performed in masterclasses with artists such as Stephen Hough, Paul Lewis and Boris Berman.

Vatche won the Fine Music Young Performer Award in 2008, was a semifinalist at the 2009 International Russian Music Piano Competition in San Jose, and won the prize for best performance of works by Chopin in the Australian National Piano Award in 2010.

Vatche founded a piano trio that performs regularly in Australia and in 2010 conducted a successful tour of Paris and London. Recent highlights include the Australian premiere of Frank Martin’s Second Flute Ballade under the guidance of Rien de Reede, and performances at London’s Handel House Museum, Foundling Museum, South London Concert Series, Royal College of Music, International Holland Music Sessions, and as guest performer, adjudicator and professor at the Piano Institute in Surabaya, Indonesia.

In 2015 Vatche begins a Masters degree at the Juilliard School in New York, studying with Joseph Kalichstein and Jerome Lowenthal.

Zoe FreisbergZoe Freisberg (Violin – VIC)

Zoe Freisberg began violin studies at the age of four under the direction of her mother, Helena Freisberg. She completed her Bachelor of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with Michele Walsh in 2012 and is currently studying at the Australian National Academy of Music with Robin Wilson.

Zoe recently appeared as soloist in Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as part of the ANAM Concerto Competition, and in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 with Orchestra Victoria at the Melbourne Recital Centre. In 2014 she was selected as an Emerging Artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s ACO2 ensemble, completing four national tours under the mentorship of Helena Rathbone. She has appeared as a soloist with the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, Redlands Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Corda Spiritus, and is a member of the recently formed Affinity Collective.

An experienced orchestral musician, Zoe has acted as concertmaster of the Australian Youth Orchestra, Nelson Cook Chamber Orchestra, the Bishop Orchestra, and the Queensland Youth Symphony. She has participated in five AYO National Music Camps and two AYO International Tours.

Zoe is the recipient of the 2014 Richard Pollett Memorial Award, the 2012 Varda Jefferies Prize and the 2010 Matilda Jane Aplin Prize.       

Congratulations to our 12 finalists and to all performers who participated in the preliminary auditions. For more information regarding the competition please download the brochure here YPA2015-broch or contact Anna Howell at howella@symphonyinternational.net

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