Simon Lord, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Director of Artistic Planning, says she is one to watch.
‘Grace is a very special performer,’ he said. ‘She plays with astonishing maturity, especially given her age.’
As the chair adjudicator this year, Simon watched all the young competitors go through their paces.
The competition, now in its 70th year, is run by Symphony Australia, a not-for-profit arts organisation that provides services to its six members, the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, Tasmanian and West Australian symphony orchestras.
The orchestras take it in turns to host the competition—and this year was the turn of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Next year, the competition will be held in Tasmania, with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra playing host.
In a complex series of performances, the 11 finalists competed for a place in the recital round, a chamber music round and finally a concerto.
The competition culminated in a concert in which the last three finalists each performed their nominated concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra; the winner then performed with the ASO in two concerts as part of its subscription series.
Altogether in Adelaide, the winner played in five public concerts, which were recorded and broadcast live on ABC Classic FM.
In 2013 the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards was run in a completely new format, withtwo stages—the preliminary auditions and the finals—and offering a larger pool of prize money and awards.
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Managing Director, Vincent Ciccarello, announced Grace as the winner in a prize ceremony following the concert.
She takes home a $25,000 cash prize, multiple copies of a CD of her winning performance, a feature interview in the ABCLimelight magazine and two concert engagements with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Sixteen-year-old Grace Clifford began studying with Robin Wilson in the Open Academy Rising Stars program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2009, and is currently a recipient of the PJV & MAH Cromack Memorial Scholarship.
In September 2014 she begins tertiary studies at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.
Before winning the award, Grace was reported as saying, ‘I never want music to be a job for me. It shouldn’t feel like something you have to do. When I walk out onto the stage, it needs to feel like I’m going to create something special.'
She’s one step closer to achieving that goal.