The Freedman Fellowship Awards | The Music Trust

The Freedman Music Fellowships are among the most prestigious offered to Australian musicians. They are awarded annually to a classical music instrumentalist and a jazz musician.

Sydney trumpeter, composer and innovator Tom Avgenicos was awarded the 2022 Freedman Jazz Fellowship in an exciting final playoff at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday 3 September. The sold-out crowd enjoyed the events return to the Studio, after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

The three finalists Flora Carbo, Holly Conner and Tom Avgenicos delivered distinctively different, highly impressive and creative performances.

Dr Richard Letts from the Music Trust commented: 

“Each Freedman finalist in very different ways produced interesting, complex music. All performed on traditional instruments but also included modern contributions from computer-generated music with live triggers. It was intriguing that each of the finalists chose to include other art forms – visual arts, dance, film, animation in their imaginative project proposals.” 


Katie Yap, the Melbourne-based, Brisbane-born violist has been named winner of the much prized Music Trust’s $21,000 2022 Freedman Classical Fellowship. Yap succeeded in the finals against harpist Emily Granger and violist Henry Justo, with an outstanding performance before a live audience and esteemed judges in the Sydney Opera House on Saturday, July 30.Judith Wright’s poems and bird-song soared through the Utzon Room in Katie Yap’s winning performance.

Katie Yap’s love of music was felt deeply throughout her emotive finals performance. Her ability to grip the audience, and say so much in the silences of each composition was truly breathtaking. Her voice soared in synergy with the viola, naturally amplified by the stunning acoustics of the Utzon Room.



James McLean, Freedman Jazz Fellow for 2016, photo by Karen Steains

The Freedman Fellowships are not for students or emerging artists. The maximum age of candidates is 35 years for jazz and 30 years for classical and they are for artists who are already very well established and at the top of the profession. The Fellowships are intended to assist them in taking their next important career steps.

Artists cannot self-nominate. Distinguished musicians from each Australian state and territory are invited to nominate candidates and the maximum number of candidates for either Fellowship is 17. To be nominated is already an honour.

Matthew Kneale, Winner of the 2017 Freedman Classical Fellowship, photo by Frank Crews

Candidates apply with a sound recording and a description of a career-advancing project they would undertake with the award funds. Finalists are chosen, interviewed and auditioned by panels of three judges, again drawn from the upper ranks of the profession. The jazz audition takes the form of a concert, Freedman Jazz, held at the Studio of the Sydney Opera house.

The Fellowships are funded by the Freedman Foundation and were conceived by Laurence Freedman and Richard Letts. The first Fellowships were awarded in 2001 and until 2013 have been managed by the Music Council of Australia. In 2014, management passed to The Music Trust and administration to SIMA (Sydney Improvised Music Association).

Previous Freedman Fellowship News


6 thoughts on “Freedman Music Fellowships”

  1. Xenia Deviatkina-Loh says:

    Where do I go to apply for the Freedman Classical Fellowship???

    1. Richard Letts says:

      If you read the text above, it describes the process. You cannot self-nominate, sorry.

      1. Xenia Deviatkina-Loh says:

        okay! how many ppl do I need to nominate me to become an applicant?
        thanks to clear that up!!!

        1. Christopher Nicholls says:

          “Distinguished musicians from each Australian state and territory are invited to nominate candidates” – at least one I’d say.

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