The Brian Stacey Award
This unique award launched in 2002 targets Australian emerging conductors of Music Theatre, Ballet, Opera, Classical and Choral music genres worthy of further assistance and to enable them to gain opportunity to broaden their musical knowledge and gain further valuable experience.
The winner will be chosen from entries submitted to the Musical Advisory Panel, who will make their recommendations for Nominees/Winner and the Brian Stacey Memorial Trustees will then choose the winner. The winner will be announced on Monday 14 July at the Helpmann Nominations Media Launch and will be presented with an $8,000 prize plus appear at the Helpmann Awards Ceremony.
‘The Brian Stacey Award has a very deliberate slant in that applicants are required not only to demonstrate their dexterity, musicianship, communication skills in Stacey-like fashion, but also put forward a Vision Statement that shows that they have a grand dream for the Australian music making of the future and have a clear understanding with regard to the part they can play in bringing that into a reality.’ (Kathryn Sadler – Chair)
Who was Brian Stacey? Affectionately known as ‘Stacey’, this beloved Australian Musical Director lost his life over 17 years ago. Stacey died tragically in a motorcycle accident on 25 October 1996, one night before he was to conduct the Australian premier of the Cameron Mackintosh production of Sunset Boulevard . Brian Stacey’s tragically curtailed musical career was remarkable for its breadth of interest and expertise. Stacey resisted efforts to be pigeon-holed into any particular genre; indeed he firmly believed that his experiences in one genre informed and improved his performances in another. In the last year of his life he conducted ballet, opera, musicals, concerts and recordings, as well as participating in a number of other musical projects.
Stacey’s death was described by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber as “a loss to the world of music theatre, not just in Australia.”
In establishing the Brian Stacey Memorial Trust, Stacey’s family, friends and colleagues chose to honour his professional choices by creating an award that would help to encourage emerging conductors to gain experience, in particular by crossing art-form barriers. The Trust’s first award allowed Guy Noble, then known foremost as a conductor of musicals, to compose, conduct and record a Flute Concerto, which was subsequently broadcast on the third anniversary of Stacey’s death, in October 1999. From 1999 to 2001 the Trust contributed an award to the Westfield Young Conductor of the year programme, managed by Symphony Australia. In 2002 the Trust expanded its brief to allow a more general support for emerging conductors. The Trust’s decision to approach Live Performance Australia, who manage the Helpmann Awards reflects its belief that the Stacey Award, like its namesake, should not be confined to any single area of musical endeavour.
Stacey’s unique career was inspired by a small number of mentors, most notably Sir Charles Mackerras, through whose encouragement and sponsorship Brian gained his first foothold into international opera. Sir Charles was one of the Stacey Trust’s original Patrons who actively supported and showed continued interest in it’s endeavours until he passed away in 2010.
A donor to the Brian Stacey Memorial Trust once enclosed a note with his payment, complimenting the Trust for “keeping (Stacey’s) unique flame alive (by) passing the Stacey baton to another generation”.
The donor went on to comment on how “chuffed” Stacey would be “to think that he may well prove to be the same catalyst for young talent as ‘Charlie’ Mackerras was for him.”
Special thanks to Stephen Found and the wonderful generosity of Patrons who donated to the 2014 Stacey Award at a post performance bucket collection at the Sydney Lyric Theatre late 2013.
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