2017 Freedman Classical Fellow | The Music Trust


The winner of the 2017 Freedman Classical Fellowship is Melbournian bassoonist  Matthew Kneale

photo by Frank Crews

“an extraordinary rapport with audiences”

In a thrilling competition broadcast live across the nation from the ABC’s Eugene Goossens Hall, Melbourne bassoonist Matthew Kneale was selected as the winner of the prestigious $20,000 Freedman Classical Fellowship.

This extraordinary concert formed the final stage of the 2017 competition, which also comprised project proposals, assessment and interviews.

The three finalists who performed in competition for the $20,000 award were flautist Tamara Kohler, pianist Alex Raineri, and bassoonist Matthew Kneale.

The calibre of these finalists is extraordinary: the Freedman Fellowship is not awarded to students or emerging artists, but to musicians aged 30 and under who are at the top of their profession. A nomination alone is an honour.

The concert was broadcast live across the nation by ABC Classic FM, followed by a tense wait for the judges’ decision.

Photo by Frank Crews

The judges, Elaine Chia, CEO of City Recital Hall, Kirsten Williams, Associate Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Dr Stephen Mould, Senior Lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, commented, “Our winner, Matthew Kneale, is a passionate advocate of repertoire for the bassoon and has an extraordinary rapport with audiences.  We were especially captivated by Matthew’s complete immersion in music-making – it’s as if his whole being is one with his instrument and every note of the music he is performing.”

Matthew Kneale is a multi-dimensional performer who is passionate about bringing the bassoon out from its background role in orchestras and ensembles, and claiming its status instead as a solo instrument. Important in his strategy is the commissioning of major new works for bassoon from Australian composers and presenting them to a world-wide audience.

With his prize money, Matthew plans to undertake an international concert tour that will shatter preconceived notions by presenting the bassoon as a brilliant solo and chamber instrument in its own right. He will perform repertoire such as Australian Holly Harrison’s new work for bassoon and string quartet, written specifically for Matthew, and a solo bassoon work, Multisonics, by Australian composer Katy Abbott.

The Freedman Fellowships in classical music and jazz are managed by the Music Trust. Its Director, Dr Richard Letts said, “The candidates for the Freedman Classical Fellowship are nominated by distinguished musicians from right around Australia. Our request to these nominators is basically to nominate the winner! We make no stipulations about repertoire.”

“It is striking then that the nominees for this prestigious award do not so much present the standard competition repertoire but choose to perform music written by Australian composers, their own colleagues and take it all over the world. Much of this music is very challenging to perform but they accept the challenge. This was an important reason that the concert of finalists was so interesting and so impressive.”

Previous winners of the Freedman Classical Fellowship represent some of Australia’s leading instrumentalists: oud player Joseph Tawadros, guitarists Geoffrey Morris and Karin Schaupp, pianists Tamara-Anna Cislowska and Peter de Jager, percussionists Claire Edwardes and Eugene Ughetti,   violinist Kristian Winther, flautist Lina Andonovska, and clarinettists Ashley Williams Smith and Aviva Endean. The 2016 winner was violist Stefanie Farrands. 2005 winner, pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska, is now also an ABC Classic FM presenter, and hosted the concert.

The Freedman Classical Fellowship is funded by the Freedman Foundation, which assists talented young Australians in the arts and supports important medical and scientific research.  The Freedman Classical and Jazz Fellowships are administered by Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA).

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