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Kate Mazoudier, Communications Manager, Faculty of the VCA and Music, the University of Melbourne; Tel: 03 9685 9371, Email:

Maestro Richard Bonynge AO, CBE has been chosen by the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) Friends’ Society as the recipient of the 2009 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution to music in Australia.

Former winners include chamber musician Richard Tognetti, conductor Richard Divall, composer Graeme Koehne, pianist Stephen McIntyre, conductor Graham Abbott, singer Yvonne Kenny, composer Peter Sculthorpe, conductor John Hopkins and music educator Sir Frank Callaway. 

The award honours the memory of Sir Bernard Heinze (1894-1982), Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne for 31 years and one of the major pioneers of orchestral musical life in Australia.

"Maestro Bonynge is an excellent choice for this award," said Professor Sharman Pretty Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music.  "He is an outstanding Australian musician, conductor and music educator...a leader in his field who has enjoyed international acclaim. It is an honour to present this award on behalf of the University of Melbourne and the Friends of the MSO."

On behalf of the MSO Friends, Elizabeth Weekes said:  "We are delighted that Maestro Richard Bonynge will receive the Sir Bernard Heinze Award.  He has made an outstanding contribution to music overseas and in Australia and especially in his encouragement of young musicians in the development of their talents."

Maestro Richard Bonynge studied piano at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music and the Royal College of Music, London.  In 1962 he made his conducting debut in Rome with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and has since conducted at most of the world’s opera houses.  He has held positions including Artistic Director of Vancouver Opera and Musical Director of Australian Opera. In 1977 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), in 1983 an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Commandeur de l'Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres, Paris in 1989 and made "Socio d'onore" of the R. Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna in 2007.

Maestro Bonynge has recorded over fifty complete operas, has made videos and DVD’s of many operas and recorded numerous ballets.  As a conductor he is widely regarded as being extraordinarily sympathetic to singers on the stage and his instinct, knowledge and feel for voices has become legendary.  Richard Bonynge is also acknowledged as a scholar of bel canto, 19th century French opera and 19th century ballet music.