In 1944 an annual, state-based competition for young performers was organised by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Over the years it grew into the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition, producing such names as Max Olding (piano, 1952), Charmian Gadd (violin, 1962), Roger Woodward (piano, 1964) and Nathan Waks (cello, 1968).
In 1968 the competition became the Instrumental and Vocal competition and by 1978 a format comprising four categories (Strings, Vocal, Keyboard and Other Instrumental) was born. This was followed by the addition of an ‘outstanding competitor’ in 1981 with winners including Ian Munro (piano, 1982) and Duncan Gifford (piano, 1989).
From 1997 Symphony Australia presented the Awards in collaboration with the ABC and the competition was renamed the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. In 2001 the vocal category was removed from the competition and replaced with a cash prize and performance opportunity for a singer, administered through the Australian Singing Competition and the Music and Opera Singers’ Trust.
From 2016 the Young Performers Awards will not be presented by Symphony Australia and there will also cease to be a Symphony Australia prize awarded as part of the Australian Singing Competition.