Richard Tognetti: National Treasure Wins JC Williamson Award

Richard Tognetti JC Williamson Helpmann Award Winner Photo Chris Pavlich.
Richard Tognetti JC Williamson Helpmann Award Winner Photo Chris Pavlich.

Richard TognettiArts and culture play an essential role in the life of every Australian and creativity is central to our economic growth as a creative nation is a productive one. Congratulations are in order and it’s a hearty best wishes to Musician Richard Tognetti AO who has been announced as recipient of the 2017 JC Williamson Award® by Andrew Kay AM, President of Live Performance Australia.

It will be presented at the 2017 Helpmann Awards ceremony to take place Monday 24 July, 2017 at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney.

ACO 12 Tognetti 3Presented in recognition of Richard Tognetti’s longstanding contribution to the live performance industry over the past 27 years as leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the award is only bestowed on an individual who has made a truly outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Australia’s live performance culture.

During that time Richard Tognetti has helped to shape the future of his industry for the better and he ‘exemplifies the spirit of this award’ noted Andrew Kay.

Richard Tognetti said: “It came as a big surprise to be nominated for this award. I thought this award was for luminaries and I don’t consider myself one of this, he said..

… “I was 10 years old and living in Wollongong when the Australian Chamber Orchestra was cleaved by John Painter and company out of the rock face of what was then the collection of ABC orchestras.  The ACO was created with the purpose of giving musicians control over their musical destiny – just 13 of them in the beginning.  And now, 42 years later, there are 17 of us and I have been fortunate enough to be Artistic Director of this remarkable group of musicians since 1990.  I consider this an award to all my colleagues, not just at the ACO but my many and diverse collaborators over the years”.

ACO 11 Tognetti 2Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service to music as an exemplary leader, Richard Tognetti is an internationally acclaimed violinist. He regularly performs on a 1743 Guarneri del Gesu violin, lent to him by an anonymous Australian private benefactor.

He has earned the award through the development and promotion of educational programs for children he champions, by supporting emerging artists and by playing for charitable organisations to help their fundraising efforts.

Tognetti-&-del-GesuThe first JC Williamson Award was presented in 1998 and since then its recipients have included Stephen Page, Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue OBE, Dr Jimmy Little AO, John Bell AO OBE, Michael Gudinski AM, Barry Humphries AO CBE, Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE, David Williamson AO and Graeme Murphy AM.

The Helpmann Awards is the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industry. Artists are recognised through their distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia’s live performance sectors including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, dance and physical theatre, children’s presentations, regional touring and cabaret.

Born in Canberra and raised in Wollongong Richard Tognetti has established an international reputation for his compelling performances and artistic individualism. IT was in 1989 that was appointed as the Orchestra’s lead violin and, subsequently, its Artistic Director.  I was fortunate enough to be there on the first night he arrived on stage, turning his fellow musicians into soloists and in one fell swoop changing the classical music industry in Australia forever.

ACO-group-playing-solo-RT-cUnder Richard’s leadership, the orchestra has earned a reputation as one of the leading chamber orchestras in the world. He performs on period, modern and electric instruments and his numerous arrangements, compositions and transcriptions have expanded the chamber orchestra repertoire and been performed throughout the world.

He has appeared as Director of soloist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Academy of Ancient Music, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Hong Kong Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Nordic Chamber Orchestra and all of the Australian symphony orchestras, most recently as soloist and director with the mighty Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO).

ACO 3 TognettiRichard also performed the Australian premieres of Ligeti’s Violin Concerto and Lutos?awski’s Partita.  In November last year, he was London’s Barbican Centre’s first Artist-in-Residence at Milton Court Concert Hall.

Richard-Tognetti-PlayingCo-composer of the score for Peter Weir’s film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe; he co-composed the soundtrack to Tom Carroll’s surf film Storm Surfers; and created The Red Tree, inspired by Shaun Tan’s book.  He also created the documentary film Musica Surfica, as well as The GlideThe Reef, and The Crowd.


Richard Tognetti JC Williamson Helpmann Award Winner Photo Chris Pavlich.

Richard Tognetti holds honorary doctorates from three Australian universities and was made a National Living Treasure in 1999. He is an excellent role model for young musicians and his legacy will be about inclusiveness. He is the man who turned his orchestra of soloists into what many now regard as the ‘finest string ensemble on the planet’.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017



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