zenith Article

A BIG week of Finals!


Published: 27/07/2022 9:00am

Next week is a BIG week here at Sydney Eisteddfod! We have all three of our Piano, Junior Piano and Instrumental Scholarship Finals on from Wednesday to Friday at the Zenith Theatre.

We’ve introduced you all to our amazing group of Finalists, but we could not produce events of this calibre without an equally amazing group of Adjudicators!

The Drs Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship Final is first cab off the rank on Wednesday, August 3 at 6pm at the Zenith Theatre.

Our adjudicators include Fabian Russell, award winning conductor, artistic director, orchestral musician, soloist and educator and currently Principal Conductor of the NSW Youth Orchestra. 

Fabian gave us an insight into what he was looking for, when choosing this year’s finalists…

Fabian Headshot 1024x1024

In choosing the finalists for this year’s

Scholarship, the selection criteria was to determine the most compelling soloists both in terms of artistry and technique, of course. Those candidates who perform solo works with imagination and advanced ability on their instrument are almost always the standout performers in any competition. In this year’s Semi-Final the successful musicians distinguished themselves because they effectively communicated with the audience thereby providing a convincing case to progress to the Final. This year the level was very high and those that advanced to the next stage were all very impressive, in the opinion of this listener. I am looking forward to hearing all of them again in the upcoming Final.   

Alongside Fabian is adjudicator Caron Chan. Caron is the Chief Strings Examiner for the AMEB as well as a teacher of tertiary and pre-tertiary programs at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. 

Caron stresses the importance of technique…Chan Caron 2021

Having an impeccable technique is essential both in terms of artistic expression and career longevity. However, because technique and musicianship are inextricably linked, technique must always be developed within a musical context in order to be meaningful. The ultimate goal in performance is for the audience to be unaware of the performer's technique and solely focussed on the musical expression. 

Technique is of course important however, Caron is also looking for a certain, indefinable quality…

When I adjudicate competitions, I am looking for distinctive personality, compelling artistry and musical sincerity supported by advanced technique and informed musical interpretation. The act of performing is one of generosity towards the audience - having a strong musical vision and creating a connection with the audience is key. 

Our Junior Piano Final will follow on Thursday August 4, 6pm at the Zenith Theatre.

Adjudicator Tony Lee weighed in on why he thinks competitions like Sydney Eisteddfod are so important to these young musicians…

tony Lee

The Sydney Eisteddfod provides fantastic opportunities for aspiring performers to thrive in a supportive and friendly environment. The chance to perform alongside like-minded peers in world class venues, is invaluable to the future of artists in Australia. The various events and scholarships certainly played a vital part in my formative years and path to becoming a concert pianist. I encourage more local young performers to have a go, they will benefit from the experience and hopefully make lasting friendships and memories! 

Tony Lee is one of the most highly awarded pianists in Australia including winning the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, Sydney Eisteddfod’s John Allison Scholarship and the Sydney International Piano Competition. He now is passionate about teaching. 

Adjudicating with Tony is Sorina Zamir, a pianist and music educator as well as the founding member of the NSW Accompanists Guild.

Sorina offers her advice the the young musicians in this Junior Final…

Zamfir Sorina 2013

Develop a sense of inner discipline and a desire to bring meaning, beauty and imagination to your performance. 

Friday, August 5 will see our week rounded out with the Kawai Piano Scholarship beginning at 6pm at the Zenith Theatre.

Adjudicator Jerry Wong is a Steinway Artist and international touring Pianist and masterclass presenter.  He relocated to Australia in 2019 to join the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music as an Associate Professor of Piano and Co-Head of Keyboard.   

Jerry comments on the Finalists commitment to their craft…

Jerry Wong headshot about

I very much look forward to witnessing the admirable efforts of our young pianists who are participating in the Sydney Eisteddfod’s Kawaii Piano Scholarship. An event of this nature confirms the deep commitment of Australian pianists and reveals the firmly held place music and the arts holds in our collective hearts and minds. 

Alongside Jerry, will be Brenda Jones, music educator and performer. A renowned s

oloist, Brenda is also a collaborative pianist, playing duos recitals as well as touring with the ACO on their national concert series

Brenda is adjudicating the Senior Piano Final but has also generously offered to mentor those who wish to benefit from her expertise of the Junior Piano entrants.

Jones Brenda 2020

Mentoring young adult musicians is a key step in their careers and important for fostering good networking skills. The most fulfilled musicians have a diverse set of skills that they can use in a variety of contexts, and the best way for students to learn this is directly from a mentor.   

Finally Jerard Heffernan, who studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and completed his Masters of Music in Piano Performance in the prestigious Peabody Institute, rounds out our 3 Piano adjudicators. Now in Australia, he has taught at the Newcastle Conservatorium and the Australian Institute of Music.  

Jerard offers what he himself takes out of giving him time to adjudicating these sorts of events...

Heffernan Jerard 2015

I take out from it a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude to the performers, each having shown an incredible level of commitment and dedication to the musical arts. It’s a privilege to hear the new generation of emerging artists. 


From Sydney Eisteddfod and all our adjudicators, we wish all Finalists of the upcoming Finals GOOD LUCK!!!

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