Freedman Music Fellowships

The Freedman Jazz Fellowship finalists: their video recordings and project ideas

Three finalists are selected from among the 16 nominees for the Freedman Jazz Fellowship. The nominees become candidates when they send in videos and audios of their work and a description of an important project they would execute using the $21,000 prize money should they win the Fellowship. Below are excerpts from the project descriptions and some of the submitted recordings from each of the three finalists, Tom Avgenicos, Flora Carbo and Holly Conner.

The winner finally is chosen at a concert by the finalists. The 2022 winner is Tom Avgenicos.

Tom Avgenicos, trumpet, Freedman Classical Fellow 2022

‘Ghosts Between Streams’

My Freedman Fellowship project will explore my personal experiences of the environment through multidisciplinary collaboration. I will use the award to develop a multidisciplinary work for my long-standing quartet Delay 45, collaborating with Ensemble Apex String Quartet, contemporary dancer/choreographer Reina Takeuchi and motion graphic artist Jordan East. This work will be presented for two nights of live performance in July, 2023 at The Neilson in Pier 2/3, Gadigal land/Sydney. The performances will be professionally filmed, recorded and released as a multimedia album.

Freedman Jazz Fellow 22202 Tom Avgenicos at the Freedman performance. PHOTO CREDIT KARL SCHWERDTFEGER

For about the past 12 months I have been exploring my practice through multidisciplinary collaboration, working with artists across film, dance, choreography and performance art. Collaborating with artists across media has expanded my skills as a composer and improviser; it has required me to find new ways to respond to and incorporate new stimuli and ideas. It has enhanced and shaped my music by conveying the underlying sentiments of a piece in a visual form; it connects jazz with audiences from other creative spaces, and it’s very important for our artform to be as inclusive as possible. I have been able to bring my music to spaces outside the stereotypical jazz setting, including art galleries, community spaces and other multipurpose spaces. Multidisciplinary collaboration has established a line of work and collaborative practice that I look forward to exploring further in my project.

With an overarching environmental concern, Ghost Between Streams will explore themes of escape and despair that have emerged from personal experiences of my local national park, Stringybark Creek on Cammeraygal country. The creek is an inspirational place, full of sights, smells and terrains that inspire evocative musical ideas. Along the trail are plaques recounting stories of the rich flora and fauna in the area and “a magical place” where children would swim and play. This is juxtaposed with the fast-paced urban development in the surrounding area, invading the natural habitat. On the outskirts of the reserve are deafening sounds of construction machinery and traffic which reverberate in the valley and fade-away to faint echoes as one journeys deeper into the creek. Run-off from the work-sites can be seen in the river and at times the pollution is so bad Sydney Water place biohazard placards and close off the trail.

Tom Avgenicos in performance with his quartet Delay 45 and the Ensemble Apex String Quartet at the Freedman concert. PHOTO CREDIT KARL SCHWERDTFEGER

Motion graphic artist Jordan East will create a dramatic display of visuals through generative software programs that respond to live sounds and movement in a reactionary way. Reina Takeuchi’s combination of choreography and improvised dance will create a symbiotic relationship with sound and movement. Arranging this work for the Ensemble Apex String Quartet provides an extended sonic palette to evoke these spaces.Delay 45 will incorporate electronics to extend the capabilities of their acoustic instruments. Firstly, this will reflect the industrial sounds heard on the outskirts of Stringybark, and secondly, it will create musical spaces that are sympathetic to contemporary dance through drone-like sounds. I want to collaborate with these artists because of their ability to capture the underlying sentiments of my compositions through their media, creating a vivid and immersive audio-visual experience.

Freedman Fellowship candidates submitted recordings of their performances, at least some of which were required to be on video. A few of the recordings from each candidate are included here with the project descriptions.

Videos of Tom Avgenicos performances

Tom Avgenicos performs with Delay45 and with Reina Takeuchi, Raya Tolentino and Monisha Chippada.

A short film collaboration featuring Delay 45, dancer/choreographer Reina Takeuchi, creative director Monisha Chippada and videographer Jack Single. The film explores the symbiotic relationship between music, movement and landscape.

Music: “I’ll Come to the Next One” from Delay 45 ‘Flux’ (released 2022 on Earshift Records)

Tom Avgenicos – trumpet
Roshan Kumarage – piano
Dave Quinn – bass
Ashley Stoneham – drums

Highlights reel from a live multidisciplinary performance featuring Delay 45, dancer/choreographer Reina Takeuchi, performance artist Raya Tolentino and creative director Monisha Chippada. The work was developed via a three-week residency at Articulate Project Space in Leichhardt.

Holly Conner, drums. Freedman Jazz Fellowship finalist

Project Description/Overview

I propose to build upon my already established solo drum/percussion/electronics project ilex by creating an album of new percussion works, each made in collaboration with a different featured musical artist. This collaborative album would be released with visual accompaniment created by local graphic and 3D visual designers; and film-makers. The album would be performed in full in Sydney with all collaborators before I would embark on a solo ilex tour around Australia.

Featured artists will include a group of wildly creative jazz/improvising musicians, electronic music producers, art-pop songwriters, sound artists, multi-instrumentalists, and contemporary classical musicians. Artists Clayton Thomas and Niki Johnson (Stick Magic); Zigi Blau; Danny Wild/Low Flung; Jackson Fester/Cousin; and Alyx Dennison have confirmed their intention to participate in the project as musical collaborators. Patrick Harris and Craig-Stubbs Race have confirmed their participation as visual collaborators.

Drummer, percussionist and electronic music producer Holly Conner in performance in The Studio. PHOTO CREDIT KARL SCHWERDTFEGER

I have chosen these collaborators as I believe they all have highly individual and unique creative practices that I deeply admire. They are interesting people, really prolific music-makers, organised and driven, with diverse backgrounds, skillsets, and generous personalities.  They are people that make things happen with their own music, and many are community leaders that organise events; or promote the work of others through labels or radio shows.  I have, or have wanted to make music/art with these individuals for a long time, and I wish to develop long-lasting and strong artistic relationships with all.

Aims, Outcomes:

(1) To develop collaborations with Australian musicians and composers across genres.
Australia has a wealth of artistic talent, but different artists are often siloed into singular genres, or different communities aren’t connected with each other. This project seeks to build connections between artists across disciplines, bring together sometimes disparate art forms, to encourage a more diverse, connected, and open Australian musical community.

(2) To extend my own instrumental practice and compositional voice, through working with inspiring individuals with different skill sets to my own.
I hope to learn from their idiosyncratic ways of making art, to open my eyes to new ways of thinking about music, and be inspired by the creativity of those beyond my immediate circle. By throwing myself into unprecedented musical situations, new challenges will arise; as will the need to be flexible and adaptable. After the pandemic and much time composing or practicing alone, I see this as an invaluable chance to develop my skills as both a composer and instrumentalist.

3) To release an album of new and contemporary Australian music, to expose audiences to different artists
A window into the breadth of creativity present in Australia right now, the album would expose audiences to new artists they may have not been exposed to before.  Presented in the right way, I hope this album would open up new opportunities for audiences to discover new sides of the Sydney/Australian music scene they may not have had the chance to engage with, or even knew existed!

4) To play the album in full with all collaborators in Sydney, then tour solo or with select collaborators in Australia.
Performing the album and then touring would allow me to build on the momentum generated by the release and visual content. Performing the works live to new audiences would also help build my reputation as a live instrumentalist.

5) To develop a portfolio of recordings, and create a ‘template’ for overseas touring and future collaborations
Thinking of the future, a personal aim of mine is to reach both Australian and international audiences, and create a project I can successfully tour overseas.

Currently, performing makes up the bulk of my music-making. With the easing of restrictions, I have gone back to performing very regularly, and this has been the busiest year of my entire career. However, the music I perform on live gigs only reaches those who are literally in the room at the time. That music has very little legacy beyond the moment and the people that were there. While providing a great live experience can be extremely fulfilling, recording music and producing an album can be far more beneficial career-wise, in the long-term.

Releasing a new album of collaborations would not only be rewarding musically, but would provide important documentation of my skills as an instrumentalist and producer, and provide tangible evidence of how I can create and collaborate with others. A new album would help me form a diverse and strong body of work; a simple, easy to access portfolio that I can send to anyone across the world, or take with me wherever I go. It means I can reach people far from where I am, I can reach new and international audiences, organise gigs in foreign cities, or even set up future collaborations in other countries, on the strength of my recordings.

Releasing this album and touring solo around Australia would help me gain both musical and administrative skills I can use as a ‘template’ for the future, skills I will carry throughout my entire career.

Summary, Future Directions and Final Notes

Receiving the Freedman Fellowship would be a turning point in my career, allowing me to fulfil many creative and professional goals.  I deeply admire the music and values of the artists I have nominated as collaborators, and believe that artists in our own backyard are working very hard and producing amazing work. I wish to create an album demonstrating the strength of contemporary Australian music and art, to celebrate their work. I passionately believe that audiences can be very open minded if things are presented in the right way.

I have always been interested in using music as a means of connecting people, and building community. The sharing of music/art has allowed me to meet people, make friends, travel and connect with others in ways I am extremely grateful for. I believe this project would allow me to continue doing this, allow me to make so many new connections, and benefit my career enormously.

Executing a project such as this would serve as an important stepping stone on the journey towards developing a national and international profile. I hope to develop a sustainable and fulfilling musical career, with deep and long-lasting musical connections.

Videos of Holly Connor performances

A show-reel type video

3s and 5s

Sun Gongs

Flora Carbo, saxophonist. Freedman Jazz Fellowship finalist

Residency in Motion is a four month international program which involves me travelling by bicycle in Europe and the UK, and is designed to facilitate intensive development of my solo creative practice and international career through:

  • MENTORSHIPS with international musicians who are pioneers in their genres / cross-genre practice
  • NETWORK BUILDING and COLLABORATIVE OPPORTUNITIES with musicians who are peers, and with international cultural operators who provide opportunity for musicians (e.g., festival programmers, etc)
  • ARTIST RESIDENCIES to enable time for creativity and reflection, provide accommodation and access to diverse creative communities.
  • CREATIVE TIME, thinking time, travelling through inspirational landscapes equipped with my instrument and recording equipment.

This project is designed to reconcile two sides of my creative practice. The intensive and joyful collaboration with a vibrant music community that is the source of, and drives my creativity; and the space for deep thought and reflection that I find in solitude, in walking and moving through landscape.

I thrive in the swell of motivation and inspiration that live performance in Naarm provides, and draw creative energy from this community of collaborators. However, being currently part of over 20 different musical projects, working as a music educator and performing most nights of the week, it is increasingly challenging to make the space and time to fulfil the other side of my creative life – listening, thinking and planning in solitude.

In the quiet of the pandemic, I learnt to listen actively to the sonic environments of urban Naarm. Inspired by Vanessa Tomlinson’s ‘sound walks’, I started experiencing my local walk through the music of breath and footfalls. Similar to live music, I found inspiration in the conversations between natural, urban and human sounds, constantly in a pull of tension and resolution that is unique to a location.

The Flora Carbo group, L-R, Eitan Ritz (modular synthesiser), Isaac Gunnoo (double bass), Carbo (alto saxophone), Maddison Carter (drums)… PHOTO CREDIT KARL SCHWERDTFEGER

From this period I have been developing compositional processes inspired by this way of listening:

  1. With the ensemble ‘Ecosystem’ I have been working on a compositional process using abstracted field recordings as compositional stimulus. As inspiration for a set of works, I have been exploring  “walks” as providing musical form through change in sonic environment over distance. ‘Ecosystem’ has performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre in 2021 and will be performing in the Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2022 with a newly commissioned work through the Take Note Program.
  2. In 2022 I released ‘Arthur’s Walks’, a collection of works inspired by the solitary experience of walking and moving through local public spaces. My first release of home recorded and self produced music, I embraced this solitary process originally out of necessity due to isolation, but became quickly inspired by the creative potential of recording as a compositional tool. Experimenting with pre- and post-production and inviting collaborators into the pieces (remotely or otherwise) has been fruitful for my creative output.

My ambition is to join the history of artists who have explored the musical identity of places – including Jim Denley, Joanna Bailie, Pauline Oliveiros. My focus, however, is an investigation of how motion and movement through place interacts with space and creativity, reflecting on walking/cycling as a full body experience of space and place. Travelling by bicycle, I will immerse myself in creative practice exploring the interaction of motion through landscape, history and communities.

The reasons for travelling in Europe and the UK is inspired by my desire to:

  • Reconnect with my cultural heritage in the Netherlands
  • Immerse myself in the folk traditions of Ireland and Scotland, of which I have drawn a huge amount of musical inspiration over the last few years
  • Connect with mentors and collaborators who I wouldn’t normally have access to, due to living in Australia
  • Create time away from my intensive work/life in Naarm, craft creative space through relocating myself
  • Find inspiration in new connections with musicians and musical communities, while also building the foundation for an international career.

Videos of Flora Carbo performances



The Freedman Classical Fellowship 2022 awarded to Katie Yap

Katie Yap wins the highly prized 2022 Freedman Classical Fellowship

 Judith Wright’s poems and bird-song soared through the Utzon Room in Katie Yap’s winning performance

See and hear Katie’s video of her performance of Aftermath, by Emily Sheppard.

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.

The three finalists were selected from 16 nominees after an extensive search, conducted by a panel of esteemed classical musicians, for Australia’s most creative musician aged 35 and under.

The point of this tick is that that’s where you find Katie Yap. Otherwise, left to right, Stephen Mould, Dick Letts, Kim Cuneo and Kirsty McCahon, all of whom, except Dick, were judges.

“The finalists selected are a wonderful reflection of the depth and diversity of music making in Australia today”, said the 2022 judges Professor Kim CunioKirsty McCahon and Dr Stephen Mould in a combined statement. “Never before has Australian music had such an important role in helping to define who and what Australia is. With that in mind, these outstanding and highly creative young artists signal that the future of Australian classical music is in very good hands”.

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.

“I’m extremely grateful to all the people who’ve supported me over my musical life to get to this point, particularly my mentors Julia Fredersdorff and Genevieve Lacey and to the Freedman Fellowship for giving me the opportunity to dream bigger than I could have ever dared.” says Katie.

Katie Yap, Viola, performing in the Sydney Opera House – Saturday July 30
Photography by Grant Leslie.

In her Freedman project Multitudes, Katie will create four new works through collaborative composition and improvisation with four collaborators: Emily Sheppard, Donald  Nicolson, Bowerbird Collective, and Mindy Meng Wang. “As a violist, looking out from the middle of the sonic sandwich, my musical identity comes from my connections with others.” says Katie. “That’s why I’ve chosen the medium of collaborative composition to create the pieces in this project, and I’m so excited to work with each of my collaborators!”

Each of the works in Katie’s Multitudes project will be based on one of Judith Wright’s bird poems that Kate has chosen specifically for its evocation of a particular story or emotion that she associates with her collaborator, their instrument, and her connection to them. “My mother introduced me to these beautiful poems, along with a love of birds themselves”, says Katie. “Multitudes represents an exciting, scary step for me in my career—it gives me the opportunity to step into the role of a creator of music, not just a performer and curator. Each work will be created over a three-day workshop period, then we’ll film them with videographer Darren James, and finally we’ll present them in a residency of four concerts at Tempo Rubato, an intimate venue in Melbourne’s inner north.”

Katie Yap grew up in Brisbane and excelled in school music programs from an early age. She graduated from the University of Queensland with a University Medal, before studying at the Australian National Academy of Music. Since then, she has embarked on a career of chamber and orchestral engagements, playing with ensembles such as the Australian World Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and the Chrysalis Trio as well as community music volunteering and tertiary teaching.


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. The Fellowship began in 2001, and has since helped to establish the careers of some of Australia’s most distinguished classical artists. 2021 saw Victorian violinist Kyla Matsuura-Miller secure the coveted Fellowship, joining ranks of the long and esteemed list of previous Fellows including Genevieve Lacey, William Barton, Joseph Tawadros, Claire Edwardes and Eugene Ughetti.

Distinguished musicians from around the country are invited to nominate candidates from amongst whom three finalists are selected. The Freedman Fellowships were conceived by Laurence Freedman AM and Dr Richard Letts AM, are managed by The Music Trust, administered and produced by SIMA. They’re funded by the Freedman Foundation which was founded by Laurence Freedman AM and Kathy Freedman AM. The Freedman Classical Fellowship is a life-changing award offered annually to Australian classical musicians aged up to 35 years. Each nominee must submit recordings of their musical performance and a description of a career-building project which they will carry out with the support of the prize.


The 20th Freedman Classical Fellow was decided at a concert of the three finalists at the Utzon Room of Sydney Opera House on Saturday July 30, 2022. Richard Letts, director of the Fellowships, spoke to the audience.

Dick Letts at Freedman Classical 2022

This is a doubly important occasion. Firstly, it is the 20th Freedman Classical Fellowship celebration. Secondly, we are so very happy, after two years of COVID prohibitions, to be back at the Opera House for a performance by our live musicians for our live audience.

On this occasion, then, I beg your indulgence to give me seven minutes for a 20-year report. Seven minutes not including applause.

Over the succession of 20 awards, the Freedman Fellowships have had time to evolve into something very special in the Australian musical world.

Most competitions for classical music performers require or encourage them to perform music that is clearly from the classical tradition. Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Ravel, Shostakovitch… Some may limit the works to those written in the baroque era or require performance of specific works from, say, the  romantic era. Fewer invite a work from our time.

The Freedman Fellowship simply says that candidates should demonstrate skills in performance of classical music but leaves the definition of classical music open. After all, think about how classical music has continued to evolve over centuries. What is the definition today? The answer will come from musicians, not from the organisers of competitions.

The prize money is not for a trip to the Bahamas. It is intended to be spent on a project that tests the winner’s imagination, advances their career, hopefully adds something important to the artform and its practice, or the musical world in Australia.

Over the lifetime of the Freedman Classical Fellowships, this freedom, this stimulation, has enabled the development of an institution that tackles important questions about the music. It is special and unique in Australian musical life. The competition’s judges always look back on their discussions as very valuable, challenging and enjoyable. The winner can be launched into a new phase of their career but so also are many of the candidates, all of whom have had to come to grips with these requirements.

Katie Yap, one of our finalists today, was a finalist a few years ago. She told us yesterday how her career trajectory changed back then through her Freedman experience. Incidentally, the finalists in that year were Katie playing baroque viola, and two double bass players, one of whom won. In how many classical music competitions could that even be a concept?

Candidates cannot nominate themselves. We invite important classical musicians from around the country to nominate one, or two, instrumental musicians. There are a total of not more than 16 nominees. Sometimes we have fewer because one or two nominators, who are baldly invited to ‘nominate the winner’, decide that they cannot even think of someone who might be a serious contender.

So a musician is already honoured simply be being nominated. SIMA, our administrator for the competition announces the nominees online, one a day. Hundreds of other musicians now follow this process and many enthusiastically congratulate each nominee because of this honour. “Go, Gabrielle!” “So deserving.” “Amazing! Congratulations!”

You will see and hear this afternoon the quality and diversity uncovered by the Freedman Fellowship. A harpist and two violists – about as common a line-up as a baroque violist and two bass players – each one performing music quite different from the others.

This whole venture is possible only because of the financial initiative and support of the Freedman Foundation, represented here by its founders, Laurence and Kathy Freedman. This foundation is a remarkable force for good. In addition to the music fellowships in jazz and classical music, it supports projects in visual arts and Indigenous rock art; important life and death programs in medical research and treatment, including birth defects, heart disease, prostate disease, cleft lip and palates, neurology, keyhole surgery for remote disadvantaged patients; and children’s programs including the Clown Doctors, Youth Sailing Program, HIV Positive Children’s Camps and many others.

Please show your appreciation for the Freedmans and the Freedman Foundation.