Ashley Smith, an Honours graduate from The University of Western Australia's School of Music, has laid claim to the title "musical genius" in winning the prestigious MCA Freedman Fellowship for classical music.
The 27-year-old clarinet player from Perth was presented with the $15,000 Freedman Fellowship by the Music Council of Australia and the Freedman Foundation. It has been dubbed the "genius award" because its candidates must be nominated by Australia's top musicians and academics.
Ashley wowed the judges in Sydney with his prize-winning performance beamed live from Yale University in the United States, where he is currently doing post-graduate studies.
Roland Peelman, Artistic Director of the Song Company said: "Ashley is a very gifted musician -articulate, musical and committed. The judges were impressed by his commitment to extending the repertoire imaginatively. He has an impressive international network and will be terrific ambassador for new Australian music."
Ashley plans to workshop new clarinet works alongside the composers and then tour Finland, the USA and Australia. He will also be performing at the UWA Alumni New York Dinner at the Harvard Club on Friday, 19 October.
‘My Fellowship is for new music, new audiences and new composers. It means so much to me - I wish to contribute to contemporary music that is living and breathing,' Ashley said.
He attributes his passion for new and experimental classical music to the innovative Perth scene fostered by UWA, the WA Academy of Performing Arts and Tura New Music.
Ashley, who grew up in the Perth suburb of Bayswater, emerged as one of Australia's most exciting new talents, after winning the Symphony International Young Performer Award in 2010.
He has won the concerto competition and the most prestigious honours at both The University of Western Australia and the Australian National Academy of Music.
Most recently, Ashley received two of the Yale School of Music's most prestigious honours: a guest performance in the Oneppo Chamber Music Series as a winner of the Yale Chamber Music Competition and finalist in Yale's Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition.
The 2012 MCA Freedman Fellowship judges were Karl Kramer, recently appointed from the US as the new Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Artistic Director of The Song Company, Roland Peelman; and leading violinist, educator and Music Viva favourite, Goetz Richter.
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