Pianist Tal Cohen, who is from Perth, Australia, and earned his master’s degree in jazz performance from the Frost School of Music this past May, is one of four finalists who will compete for a prestigious Freedman Jazz Fellowship at the Sydney Opera House later this month.
The Freedman Music Fellowships are offered and awarded annually to Australian classical and jazz music instrumentalists. Based on an invite-only process, nominees aged 35 and under are selected by senior industry figures in each state. Those nominated for a Freedman Jazz Fellowship compiled a project proposal, and from this, four finalists were selected to perform at The Studio, Sydney Opera House on July 20. The jazz judges for 2015 are distinguished Australian musicians: bassist Zoe Hauptmann, saxophonist David Theak, and pianist Chris Cody.
Just to be nominated, let alone make the finals, is an amazing accomplishment and playing in the Sydney Opera House with my band is really a dream come true.
Cohen’s project proposal was, in his own words, “a recording session with some of the finest musicians in the world, which I had the privilege to play with and collaborate with in my time in Miami and at the Frost School of Music. I suggested a collaboration between the finest American musicians and the finest Australian musicians to create an amazing recording with many different influences.”
At the end of the July 20 event, one finalist will be announced as the 2015 Freedman Jazz Fellow and will receive a $15,000 fellowship. ABC Jazz will cover the event with photos, interviews, and videos, as well as recording the night for later broadcast. ABC Jazz also has announced that the finalist will be offered three days of studio time in the ABC Sydney recording studios.
Cohen is excited about the opportunity, to say the least. “Leading up to this event, will be extensive media coverage about the four finalists, sharing their stories and recordings. This is a huge opportunity and honor for me,” he said. “Just to be nominated, let alone make the finals, is an amazing accomplishment and playing in the Sydney Opera House with my band is really a dream come true.”
The fellowships are funded by the Freedman Foundation and were conceived by Laurence Freedman and Richard Letts. The first fellowships were awarded in 2001 and until 2013 have been managed by the Music Council of Australia. In 2014, management passed to The Music Trust.
Awards are administered by Sydney Improvised Music Association, a nonprofit organization founded in October 2013.