The First North Queensland Piano Competition was held in 1980, at the instigation of the late Dr Bill Williams, OBE. The winner of the competition that year was Joy Rutledge accompanied by Dr Williams. In 1982, an Instrumental Section was added and the name changed to the North Queensland Concerto Competition; in 1984 an Open Section was added; in 1988 the Vocal Section and Ensemble Section were added and the name changed to the North Queensland Concerto & Vocal Competition.
In 1991, the present Director, Mrs Carol Dall’Osto, took over the reins from Dr Williams, who had wished to step down due to ill health. The decision was taken to hold the competition annually, coinciding with the establishment of a Music Degree Course at James Cook University. With the support and sponsorship of the James Cook University, the competition was able to offer a substantial prize for the Open Section which became ‘open’, in that it was without any geographical or age restrictions, making it a truly unique competition, and one that could provide a prestigious national platform for all participants.
In 1996, sections for Young Performers, both soloists and ensembles, were added. The competition had tried to include a section for Australian composers, one being a composition section, and then a performance section. We wished to encourage performances of Australian composers and encourage young composers, in part, to honour our founder, Dr Bill Williams who died in 1995.
Vale – 1913- 1995 – Patron and founder Dr W T (Bill) Williams OBER, PhD, D.Sc., FAA.,
“with his combined intellect, and humility, he was indeed a very special bloke’ – Joy Rutledge.
In 2005, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with many highlights including a performance from some of our previous winners with the Barrier Reef Orchestra conducted by John Hopkins, a piano recital of works by Anton Rubenstein given by Larry Sitsky. Our 30th anniversary was celebrated with a dinner honouring our adjudicator’s ‘alumni’ in 2010 which includes some of Australia’s illustrious musicians and educators.
Australian Concerto & Vocal Competition – a new name in 2008
A decision was made by the current committee in 2007 that since 1992 the Competition had attracted more and more competitors from around Australia, New Zealand and neighbouring countries, we should make a name change to reflect a national identity. The 2008 competition being the first time the event was held using our new name. This was also the first year the Open winner was awarded the John Hopkins Performance Fellowship Award – valued $1000+ – in honour of Professor Emeritus John Hopkins OBE, AO who has contributed greatly to the development of the competition and his enthusiastic personal contributions made in establishing the Barrier Reef Orchestra, Townsville’s own community orchestra. This was made possible by a generous donor who wished to remain anonymous to honour this wonderful man who has had a great influence on music and musicians in Australia, and enjoyed an international reputation as a conductor.
The partnership with the Barrier Reef Orchestra since its establishment in 2000 has provided our Open winner with an opportunity to perform with the orchestra, as well as providing additional performance opportunities since 2008.
Our winner in 2008 was violinist Ji Won Kim who also went on to win the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Award, a number of our winners and finalists being winners and finalists of this competition, makes our Gala Finals Concert a highlight of the event with the outstanding talent on display.
In 2011, the Australian Concerto & Vocal Competition commissioned a work for young pianists by distinguished composer Larry Sitsky, with the idea of encouraging young pianists to be involved in ensemble music making, entitled ‘Concerto for Young Pianist’. This was premiered in 2012 in both Townsville and Cairns in February in the presence of the composer who has generously allowed us to have full publication rights, and allowed the second piano part to be orchestrated for use by schools for performance. We were delighted to have a young pianist perform the work as part of the competition in the Young Performers Section this year who was placed second by adjudicator Donald Hazelwood OA, OBE.
North Queensland Concerto & Vocal Trust
This was established in 1996 with a very generous donation of $70,000 from Mr G Ishiyama, of Shipfield Pty Ltd. This was followed up with donations totalling $30,000 from the regional community of North Queensland. It is envisaged that, by continuing to build up our resources in the Trust Fund, that the income will cover administrative and organizational costs, and allow for future development. All donations to the Trust Fund are Tax Deductible. All enquiries regarding donations to the Trust Fund should be directed to Mr Cris Dall’Osto (Treasurer).
NQ Concerto & Vocal Trust Board Members:
Mr Cris Dall’Osto, Mrs Judith Leong, Mrs Beth Honeycombe