Acts from SA won two of the 11 national categories in the 2019 Art Music Awards – which celebrate achievements in Australian contemporary classical, jazz and experimental music – presented last night at the University of Sydney.

Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet won Excellence by an Organisation for its recent output – which the judges say “defies genre, style and expectation” – as well as its 20-year history of having “fearlessly championed new Australian work”.

media_cameraZephyr Quartet. Picture: Emma Woolcock, supplied

Ross McHenry won the award for Excellence in Jazz for his “raising of the bar” with recording, international touring, residencies and commissions.

Pianist and new music curator Gabriella Smart also won the SA Award for Excellence by an Individual for projects “including facilitating Asian-Australian, European-Australian and Aboriginal cultural exchange”.

SA musician, pianist Gabriella Smart.media_cameraSA musician, pianist Gabriella Smart.SA jazz musician, bass player Ross McHenry.media_cameraSA jazz musician, bass player Ross McHenry.

Zephyr was praised for its cross-art form and cross-cultural collaborations, such as this year’s Cabaret Festival performance of Yiddish music with Canadian rapper Socalled. Its next project Stuck in the Narrowest Path will be with brawling Japanese physical theatre group Contact Gonzo at the OzAsia Festival from October 29-31.

Among the other national awards, composer Carl Vine won Orchestral Work of the Year for his Implacable Gifts (Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra), performed with the WA Symphony.

The Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, retitled in honour of the late conductor, was presented to experimental jazz trio The Necks.

SEE: Stuck in the Narrowest Path, Dunstan Playhouse foyer, October 29-31. Book at

Originally published as Zephyr breezes home at national Art Music Awards