Amazing Grace snares national percussion prize

Queensland Conservatorium student Grace Kruger has won Australia’s most prestigious percussion prize — the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Snare Drum Award.

This marks the third year in a row that a Queensland Conservatorium student has won the top award at the competition, which is open to tertiary students across the country.

Bachelor of Music student, Grace said winning the prize would give her more opportunities in her pursuit of a career as a professional musician.

“It is the most wonderful opportunity – the MSO is one of Australia’s best orchestras, and I get a chance to sit in on rehearsals and learn directly from their percussionists.

“This will open a lot of doors for me after I graduate.”

Fellow Queensland Conservatorium percussion studentsKaleah Scanlon and Jennifer Wilson also made it into the finals, taking home second place and an Encouragement Award respectively.

“The percussion world has traditionally been male-dominated, so to have an all-female lineup in the finals was amazing,” Grace said.

“We are all mates at uni, and it helps to have that support network when you perform.

“We’re definitely on a bit of a winning streak at the Con!”

The award was established in 2004 as part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Development Program, and the prize includes a custom-made snare drum and a one-year mentorship with MSO’s top percussionists.

Panellists including MSO percussionist Robert Cossom, conductor Dobbs Franks and MSO Artistic Coordinator Michael Williamson selected Grace as the winner.

“The panel was very impressed with Grace’s performance,” Mr Cossom said.

“She played with sensitivity and, funnily enough, grace.”

Queensland Conservatorium Head of Percussion Professor Vanessa Tomlinson said the competition provided students with an “invaluable experience”.

“This competition recognises the best percussion students in the country, and all of our students put in a phenomenal performance,” she said.

“This is now the third year in a row that one of our students has taken out the top prize.

“The competition replicates the audition process that many of our students will face when they seek entry into the country’s top orchestras, so it’s an invaluable experience.”

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the fact that three of four finalists in the national competition were from QCGU reflected the calibre of the program.

“The percussion program at the Queensland Conservatorium is second to none,” he said.

The award, now in its 15th year, was established by MSO percussionist Robert Cossom and is designed to encourage the pursuit of excellence in snare drum performance in Australia and New Zealand.