The Joan Carden Award—a brief history

A highlight of this year’s Sydney University Graduate Choir concert series will be the conduct of the prestigious Joan Carden Award. As we prepare to open the application process for prospective competitors, it is timely to provide a brief history of the Award to date.

One of the objectives of the Sydney University Graduate Choir is ‘the encouragement and promotion of choral music in Australia through…the development and sponsorship of young singers’. With this in mind, in 2004 an award was established to provide financial encouragement to an outstanding young Australian classical singer, and Australian soprano icon Joan Carden AO OBE graciously agreed to lend her name and, most generously, her time as judge to the award.

The objectives of the award are to:

  • identify and encourage young singing talent
  • strengthen the Choir’s relationship with the University of Sydney and the Sydney music community, and
  • honour the contribution of Joan Carden to music in Australia.

The winner of the inaugural Joan Carden Award in 2005 was soprano Lucinda-Mirikata Deacon. The judging panel was chaired by Ms Carden and included Music Director Christopher Bowen OAM. The prize of $1500 was drawn from a fund that the Choir, with support from the Chancellor’s Committee of the University, had set up primarily for this purpose. Ms Deacon was invited to perform with the Choir at its next concert, Brahms’ Requiem, where she was greeted with enthusiasm by the audience in the University’s Great Hall.

Over the years, interest in the Joan Carden Award has grown, and the participants, drawn from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (which has also regularly provided senior staff as judges), have made a significant contribution to Australia’s classical music culture (see the Roll of Honour below).

As a result of this success, the Choir in consultation with Ms Joan Carden AO OBE, and with help from classical music station, Fine Music 102.5, has extended the format of the Award from 2015. The intention is to broaden the pool from which competitors are drawn and to bring the pleasure of hearing these wonderful young voices to a much larger audience. It is expected that the Award will be conducted biennially. The prize for 2015 has been increased to $6,000.

The terms and conditions for the Award and the application form for the 2015 Joan Carden Award will be provided here soon.

If you would like to receive an email alert when the application form is available, please click here.

Joan Carden with Amy Corkery, Agnes Sarkis and Anna Dowsley - Joan Carden Award 2012.

Joan Carden with Amy Corkery, Agnes Sarkis and Anna Dowsley – Joan Carden Award 2012.

Joan Carden Award Roll of Honour

2012 Agnes Sarkis, mezzo-soprano

2011 Emma Moore, soprano

2010 Rachel Bate, soprano

2009 Simon Gilkes, tenor

2008 Jinhee Uhm, soprano

2007 Victoria Wallace, mezzo-soprano

2006 Jae-Hyeok Lee, baritone

2005 Lucinda-Mirikata Deacon, soprano


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