Brief history of the Joan Carden award

An important objective of the Choir is ‘the encouragement and promotion of choral music in Australia through … the development and sponsorship of young singers’. With this in mind, in 2004 an annual award was established to provide financial encouragement to an outstanding young classical singer. Australian soprano icon Joan Carden AO OBE graciously agreed to lend her name and, most generously, her time as judge to the award.

The winner of the inaugural Joan Carden Award in 2005 was soprano Lucinda-Mirikata Deacon. The judging panel was chaired by Miss Carden and included Music Director Christopher Bowen OAM. The prize of $1500 was drawn from a fund that the Choir, with support from the Chancellor’s Committee of the University, had set up primarily for this purpose – the Joan Whittaker Memorial Fund. Ms Deacon was invited to perform with the Choir at its next concert, A German Requiem by Brahms, where she was greeted with enthusiasm by the audience in the University’s Great Hall.

Over the years, interest in the annual Joan Carden Award has grown, and the participants, drawn from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (which has also regularly provided senior staff as judges), have made a significant contribution to Australia’s classical music culture.

As a result of this success the Choir, in consultation with Miss Joan Carden AO OBE, extended the format of the Award from 2015. The intention is to broaden the pool from which competitors are drawn and to bring the pleasure of hearing these wonderful young voices to a much larger audience through a public competition with finals held during one of the choir’s subscription concerts. From 2015 the Award would take place every two years, with a prize of $6000.

Joan Carden Award Roll of Honour

2017 Joshua Oxley, tenor
2015 Ashlyn Tymms, mezzo-soprano
2012 Agnes Sarkis, mezzo-soprano
2011 Emma Moore, soprano
2010 Rachel Bate, soprano
2009 Simon Gilkes, tenor
2008 Jinhee Uhm, soprano
2007 Victoria Wallace, mezzo-soprano
2006 Jae-Hyeok Lee, baritone
2005 Lucinda-Mirikata Deacon, soprano

In 2015 a ‘Peoples’ Choice’ prize was introduced, awarded on the basis of an audience ballot. In that year it was won by soprano Morgan Balfour.

People’s Choice Prize Winners

2017 Barbara Jin, soprano
2015 Morgan Balfour, soprano

As an indication of the quality of contestants attracted by this Award, we can list some of their achievements subsequent to success in the JCA:

In 2015, Ashlyn Tymms was assisted by her JCA win to take up her scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London.  She returned to sing the mezzo solo in August 2016, having previously sung in one of the Choir’s most outstanding performances – Dvorak’s Stabat Mater in 2015.  In this performance, the Soprano was the inaugural JCA winner, Lucinda-Mirikata Deacon.

Rachel Bate, Emma Moore and Anna Dowsley all won the prestigious Australian Singing Competition in the year of their success in the JCA.

Emma Moore has been making a career in Germany since that time, and returned to sing a soprano solo part in the choir’s December 2015 performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt.

Anna Dowsley was selected for the OA’s Young Performer Program following her year overseas in the USA and Italy.  She is now a Principal with OA and returned from the US to perform with the OA in 2017. Anna has sung a number of solo parts with the choir in their Great Hall Subscription Series, most recently in May 2016.

2008 winner, Jinhee Uhm, now known as Eva Kong, is also a Principal with OA.

2017 JCA winner,  tenor Joshua Oxley, performed as a soloist at the Choir’s May 2018 performance , featuring works by Mendelssohn and Nicolai, was a finalist in the City Of Sydney Opera Scholarship 2018 and has performed for Opera Australia as Bathasar Zorn in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and as Tamino in the Magic Flute.

Barbara Jin has performed the role of Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffman for Rockdale Opera in 2018.

All JCA winners have subsequently sung solo parts in the choir’s performances, and continue to return when possible.  Choir members are enthusiastic about following the careers of singers whom we have supported in the early stages of their careers.