Pianist Oliver She from Queensland Wins ‘Gold’ at the 2018 Australian National Piano Award

Oliver She, 27 years old from Brisbane, has won in the 2018 Australian National Piano Award. At the Grand Final on Saturday night, Oliver took out the first prize of $27,000 (plus another prize of the Best performance from the Romantic era). Building upon his third place at the 2016 Australian National Piano Award, he was delighted to triumph amongst such an elite group of pianists.

High Resolution Photo
Oliver She from Queensland wins 2018 Australian National Piano Award
High Resolution Photo
L to R: Alexander Yau, Oliver She, James Guan.

Fourteen of Australia’s best classical pianists under the age of 30 descended upon Shepparton Victoria – all performing for a week in the 2018 Australian National Piano Award.  Throughout the week the musicians performed in front of three internationally renowned judges and audiences in this regional town.

Professor Gerard Willems AM from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music announced the winner and said, “The world stops, when magic moments are created on the piano. Our criteria was that the repertoire had to sound fresh, a lot of emotions shed, with love, passion, curiosity and mystery being expressed– the piano had to ‘sing’ and we heard a lot of that all week by all fourteen musicians.”

Second place was awarded to Alexander Yau (22 years) from Sydney and Third place was awarded to James Guan (27 years) from Sydney.

Other prize-getters are listed below however it should be mentioned that James Guan also won the most popular People’s Choice prize valued at $5,000.

Adjudicators Lance Coburn, Joanna MacGregor and Gerard Willems were united in their decision of place-getters.  Lance Coburn from the Irish Academy of Music added, “We were looking for a true communicator who transported us to the depths of our souls”.

Fourteen pianists came to Shepparton and the sensational music performed on the concert grand Steinway was more than impressive all week.  So much so, that the three jurors - remarked that all contestants should be proud of their presentations.  It had to come down to determining the ultimate winner on Saturday evening and the allocation of prizes is as follows: 

Prizes – 2018 Australian National Piano Award

  • Oliver She from Brisbane won FIRST PRIZE - Total Value $27,000
    $22,000 - The City of Greater Shepparton Prize
    The winner will be awarded also a bursary of $5,000 for further music career development – The Daphne and Ross Turnbull Bursary.
  • Alexander Yau from Sydney won SECOND PRIZE - Total Value $13,000
    $10,000 - The Fairley Foundation Prize.
    The winner will be awarded also a bursary of $3,000 for further music career development – The Daphne and Ross Turnbull Bursary                            
  • James Guan from Sydney won THIRD PRIZE Total Value - $7,000
    $5,000 - The Beleura, John Tallis Prize.
    The winner will be awarded also a bursary of $2,000 for further music career development – The Daphne and Ross Turnbull Bursary

NOTE: All other finalists selected to play, who were not awarded first, second or third prize and who performed in all their required recital sessions, will receive $500 courtesy of GV Hearing Clinic.

Special Prizes

  • For the best performance of the music of JS Bach won by Robbin Reza (Sydney) - The Shepparton News Prize - $1,000
  • Alexander Yau won the best performance of the music of Mozart or Beethoven the Leona and Bruce Sterling Prize - $1,000
  • Robbin Reza also won the best performance of the music of Haydn or Schubert – the Jenny Houlihan Prize of $1,000.
  • Josh Hooke (Melbourne) won for the best performance of the music of Schumann the Pam Wells Prize $1,000 *this was originally a prize for best Chopin, however the judges requested the change to the prize on offer.
  • Oliver She also won the best performance of music from the Romantic era (excluding Chopin) or for the first half of the 20th century The Horton Family Prize - $1,000  
  • Jeremy So (Sydney) won the Andreadis Family Australian Composition Prize - $5,000 - For the best performance of music written in or after 1951. The winner will receive $5,000 to commission a work by an Australian composer, with the intention that the work be performed by the recipient.
  • James Guan who came third also won The Lorna Speechley Memorial Prize for the People’s Choice - $5,000 (donated by Dr. Ron Speechley)

The Lorna Speechley Memorial Prize for the People’s Choice is donated by Dr. Ron Speechley in memory of his wonderful wife Lorna nee Ducat who is proud to be the daughter of the family who established the Airlie Dairy and has been a graduate of the School of Nursing at the Mooroopna Base Hospital.

Winning this internationally recognised Award boosts careers and reputations locally and overseas.  Seven recitals were performed each day (afternoons and evenings), in a magnificent concert hall and to a paying audience, over the days Monday September 3 to Saturday September 8.

All pianists performed two recitals, then five pianists were selected for the semi-final, demonstrating their understanding and range of skills; technical mastery, style, emotional and intellectual interpretations of: Baroque music up to and including J.S. Bach, Classic music after J.S. Bach, including the music of Beethoven or Schubert, French Impressionistic music and all music of the 20th Century up to 1950 to Contemporary music composed after 1950.  Plus, entrants included one Australian work in their first or second recital.  

Another highlight during the week occurred when Vatche Jambazian, pianist from Sydney premiered Australian composer, Andrew Howes’ music titled, “Moments Musicaux I.Chorale II.Barcarolle III.Tombeau IV.Fripperie.”

The Award is funded by the City of Greater Shepparton and other valued sponsors.  It is also supported by philanthropic organisations, private donors, business and the community at large - 2018 marks the 14th biennial presentation of the Australian National Piano Award, held in Victoria’s regional and culturally diverse town of Shepparton.  The contestants stayed with local host families for the week.

A limited edition CD recording of highlights will be produced in the near future.

Past Winners (holding the ‘winner’ title for two years)

  • 2016 - Tony Lee, New South Wales
  • 2014 - Alex Raineri, Queensland
  • 2012 - Daniel de Borah, Victoria
  • 2010 - Jocelyn Ho, New South Wales
  • 2008 - Jayson Gillham, Queensland
  • 2006 - Amir Farid, Victoria
  • 2004 - Matthew Kam, Victoria
  • 2002 - Anna Carson, Queensland & Richard Jackson, Victoria
  • 2000 - Kristian Chong, Victoria & Kenji Fujimura, Victoria
  • 1998 - Edit Goldner, Victoria
  • 1996 - Lance Coburn, Queensland & Mark Kruger, Queensland
  • 1994 - Clemens Leske Jnr, South Australia
  • 1992 - Catherine Davis, New South Wales & Mark McGee, Victoria

Radio 3MBS Music Melbourne recorded the grand-final recitals and highlights will go to air in September, 2018.