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. From now on, the Award competition will be held every two years.

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 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, has 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.

Joan Carden Award Roll of Honour

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

As well as choosing a winner, the adjudicators have from time to time identified other young singers for encouragement and these competitors have also been engaged to sing solos with the Choir. They include Andrew Finden (baritone) in 2007, who sang in the Choir’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation in that year and is now a contracted principal with the important opera house in Karlsruhe, Germany; Amy Corkery (soprano) in 2012, who sang in the Choir’s performance of A German Requiem by Brahms in that year and is now much in demand as a soloist around Sydney; and Anna Dowsley (mezzo soprano), who was also singled out for encouragement in 2012, sang the mezzo solo in the Choir’s performance of the Verdi Requiem in 2013, and this year is singing the role of Siébel in Gounod’s Faust and will sing the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Australia, with whom she is a Young Artist.

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