State Music Camp representatives including Gavan Woinarski's gift is accepted by MCM

New annual award for MCM conductors to launch next year

The Melbourne-based State Music Camp last week donated $75,000 to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) to fund a new, annual $3,500 student conductor award.

The award will be presented annually to a student enrolled in the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music who has demonstrated a high standard of musicality and potential to develop further their conducting skills. The student will be invited to conduct a student orchestra during the annual State Music Camp in July.

“The purpose of the award is to elevate conducting as a very worthy musical skill,” said Gavan Woinarski, independent philanthropy consultant and committee member of State Music Camp.

“There have been various bequests over the years to support cellists, flautists, violinists and so forth, but there’s been very little to support conductors. Conducting has been overlooked for one reason or another – and it’s a very difficult skill,” Mr Woinarski said.

State Music Camp, which was established 57 years ago, provides an opportunity for school-aged musicians to study orchestral music, an opportunity many wouldn’t otherwise have. The MCM student who wins the conducting award each year will, in addition to the award, be invited to conduct at the State Music Camp.

Professor Barry Conyngham, Dean of the Faculty of VCA and MCM, said he was delighted to see an award introduced for conducting.

“Conducting is an area of music that requires extensive musical knowledge combined with leadership and practice. We are very grateful for State Music Camp’s generous donation to help us further the development of our talented emerging conductors,” said Professor Conyngham.

Mr Woinarski described the award as a pioneering initiative from an amateur community group. The inaugural recipient of the award will be announced during the first semester of 2018.

– By Sarah Hall

Banner image: From Left: Gavan Woinarski, Leah Phillips, Christopher Robson, Barry Conyngham, Gary McPhearson and Alex Furman, standing around the bust statue of John Hopkins, inaugural Dean of the School of Music at the VCA and Patron of State Music Camp.