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Katherine Smith, University Media Unit
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Renowned composer, conductor and violist Mr Brett Dean has been awarded the 2010 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution to music in Australia.

The award is presented annually by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) Friends’ Society.

Professor Gary McPherson, Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music said Brett Dean had been a major figure within the international music community for the past two decades.

“He is known and admired worldwide as one of Australia’s most visible and highly regarded composers, as well as a performer par excellence.  His leadership and artistic guidance of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) has made a considerable impact on a whole generation of young Australian musicians,” he said.

On behalf of the MSO Friends Ms Jacci Simpson said: “Brett Dean was chosen for the Award by the Friends for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of excellence in musical performance as Director of ANAM, and for the acclaim which he has received both here and overseas for his opera Bliss.”

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. Former winners include: Maestro Richard Bonynge, pianist Stephen McIntyre, singer Yvonne Kenny, composer Peter Sculthorpe, conductor John Hopkins, horn player Barry Tuckwell, violinist Richard Tognetti and music educator Sir Frank Callaway.

Biography – Mr Brett Dean

Brett Dean is a multi-faceted artist, a celebrated composer, solo violist, chamber musician and conductor with a highly esteemed reputation here in Australia, in Europe, the UK and the United States.  His work has been championed by such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, Daniel Harding and Simone Young. 

Originally from Queensland, Brett Dean completed his studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1984.  He travelled to Berlin where he was engaged as a permanent member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years.  During this time he established his reputation as a performer playing at major chamber music festivals such as Aldeburgh, Bath, Frankfurt and Salzburg among others.  His early composition Ariel’s Music for solo Clarinet and orchestra won the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers Award in 1997.  Dean composes widely for solo instrument, chamber groups, orchestra, choir and voice.  In 2008 Dean won the most prestigious prize for composition: The Grawemeyer Award for his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing. 

Returning to Australia in 2000 to concentrate on composing, he was engaged by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as composer-artist-residence from 2001 – 2003.  From 2006 – 2010 he was Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music. 

Brett Dean’s most recent compositions are opera Bliss based on the novel by Peter Carey commissioned by Opera Australia, which opened in Sydney in March this year and Epitaphs, a suite of five memorial pieces commemorating the deaths of five friends including Dorothy Porter and Richard Hickox.  Epitaphs premieres in Australia next week at the Melbourne Recital Centre when Brett Dean joins the Schoroun Ensemble as part of the Berlin Dayz Festival.