Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards 2012

About the Awards

The Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards were created in 1984 by the Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund at the time of the 50th anniversary of Sidney Myer’s death to commemorate his life and his love for the arts. The Awards pay tribute to outstanding excellence in drama, comedy, dance, music, opera, circus and puppetry throughout Australia.

2012 Winners

Announced in Canberra on the 14th March 2013.
Group Award : Ilbijerri Theatre Company
Facilitator’s Award : Philip Rolfe
Individual Award : Iain Grandage

Citation for Iain Grandage

Iain is a rarity in the world of composers. As frequently heard on theatre, cabaret and dance stages as in concert halls, his compositions for performance are exquisite sonic narratives with all the complexity and completeness of stand-alone works. Yet in these masterful creations of dramatic collaboration, Iain’s a priori concern is always the emotional and theatrical narrative of the performance. While never wanting for intricacy or originality, his music first and foremost supports, counterpoints or insinuates an emotional journey – not to mention scoring for the pragmatic demands of bodies, stage-craft and scenic elements in real time on stage. But close your eyes and truly listen and what is revealed will astonish you.

It is self-evident from Iain’s almost rudely profligate biography, that this instinct for compositional dramaturgy combined with unbridled musicality has made him one of the most sought after ‘new work’ collaborators in the country.

He has received the highest ‘original music’ accolades and peer-judged awards for a kaleidoscope of landmark productions, not least for Neil Armfield’s Cloudstreet and The Book of Everything, Pamela Rabe’s In the Next Room, Michael Kantor and Tom Wright’s Babes in the Wood, Optimism and The Odyssey, David Britton’s Plainsong, Andrew Ross’s The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, and Lawn by SplinterGroup.

His collaborations are not just with auteurs, but with musicians, the actors and singers and dancers who give life to his compositions. And he does this with an acute sense of place and purpose, always aware of how his music resonates: as art, as invention, as a series of technical demands, and as a language of performance with fellow artists and audiences.

A consummate showman who frequently performs his stage compositions live, Iain creates musical conditions in which the unpredictable might thrive, supporting the performer with an emotional power true to what is transpiring on the stage. While having at his disposal an embarrassment of orchestral, instrumental and formal expertise, and a seemingly encyclopaedic appreciation of all that has come before, it might also astonish you to learn that Iain is the humblest of artists. He has been known to advocate forcibly for silence rather than strike a false or cloudy emotional note.

He is also acutely aware of and responsive to the dazzling complexities of contemporary Australian culture.

Iain’s work with Indigenous Australians is, and always has been, founded in a mutual bond of respect, trust and the shared experience of creativity – and the art of communicating through performance.

In 1996 and 1998, Iain was musical director and arranger for the national tours of Jimmy Chi’s multi award winning Corrugation Road, and his involvement with Indigenous musicians – including collaborations with the Spinifex people of central Australia – has continued unabated. In 2007, a documentary of these collaborations, Ooldea was broadcast on ABC TV.

Among others, he has collaborated with Tiddas and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, and as musical supervisor and arranger for the Black Arm Band on their award-winning performances Hidden Republic and dirtsong.

Iain is equally celebrated for his orchestral and concert works which have been performed by the Brodsky String Quartet, Australian String Quartet, Australian Brass Quintet and choirs and orchestras around Australia. He has been Composer-in-Residence with the Youth Orchestras of Australia and the WA Symphony Orchestra.

As an orchestral arranger, he has worked with artists as dynamic as Tim Minchin, Ben Folds, the Whitlams, Augie March, Tim Rogers, Sinead O’Connor and Steve Pigram.

Iain’s original compositions and arrangements for Australia’s most danferous cultural export, Meow Meow, are the stuff of global legend.

His current diary includes: a national tour performing his original composition for Neil Armfield and Andrew Bovell’s Secret River; a new work collaboration between the Black Arm Band and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; a Victorian Opera workshop with Neil Armfield and Alison Croggon based on Tim Winton’s The Riders; a collaboration between the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Barry Humphries and Meow Meow; and a new concert version of Shane Warne the Musical with last year’s Individual Award Winner, Eddie Perfect.

Whether he is composing or performing in The Spiegeltent, the Sydney Opera House, or in the western desert country, his affinity for music making as an expression of not just who we are but how we are, is palpable….as is his great humanity.