Top award goes to a tall poppy of Australian music
06 May 2011
The nation’s most valuable individual music prize – the Australia Council Don Banks Music Award 2011 – is being awarded to Belinda Webster, OAM, for her outstanding contribution to Australian music.
For two decades Belinda’s commitment to commissioning, producing and recording works through her Tall Poppies label has resulted in a vast and unique collection of Australian music culture, preserved for future generations.
Chair of the Australia Council Music Board, composer Matthew Hindson, presents the $60,000 award in Kangaroo Valley tonight in front of a crowd of musicians, friends and music enthusiasts, at the opening of Arts in the Valley, a biennial festival of music, dance and sculpture, which Belinda established in 2007 and has curated three times since.
“Belinda’s incredible passion and tireless energy for Australian music has given hundreds of Australia’s most talented musicians a fully professional outlet for their work that would otherwise be unavailable,” says Matthew Hindson. “She’s supported the careers of countless musicians and composers, capturing their work and allowing others to enjoy and to be inspired by it.”
Belinda’s interest in sound engineering and production came to fruition during her time at 2MBS radio, where she produced over 600 and live and studio recordings. In 1991, with a vision to record and distribute Australian music, she founded Tall Poppies Records, the first company in Australia to focus on the recording of solo and chamber music.
Since then Belinda has selected and produced over 200 CDs that feature Australian compositions or performers, often both, with many receiving awards and critical acclaim. Tall Poppies has commissioned 47 new works in its 20-year history.
Artists such as Peter Sculthorpe, Carl Vine - both former Don Banks Award recipients - Ian Munro and Roger Frampton feature in the catalogue.
A key to the label’s success is that all recording artists have input into, and control over what they record and how they are presented. Belinda has earned a reputation throughout the Australian music community for her selflessness, frequently paving the way for artists to flourish at her own monetary expense.
“She is absolutely trusted by performers and composers,” says Matthew. “She’s encouraged many of them to undertake works that they almost certainly wouldn’t have done themselves creating results that are unique and, quite simply, special. Indeed Belinda has captured some striking recordings of chamber works composed by Don Banks, so it’s lovely to see her receive this award”
Belinda has also, over the last 30 years, been a professional musician, broadcaster, film maker, school music teacher, researcher and a journalist.
Also a talented photographer, Belinda’s images have featured as artwork on some of the Tall Poppies’ albums and, as she receives this award, some of her photographic work is on display as part of an exhibition titled Carnaval, based on Schumann’s piano solo.
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