Australian of the Year Finalists

The state finalists in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards have been announced, with some fansastic musicians and supporters of music among them. 

The following people receive special mention here for their contribution to musical life in Australia, we would like to thank and congratulate all of them. Do yourself a favour and spend a few minutes following the links to read more about their fantastic work.

Stay tuned for announcements about state winners during November 2012, and of course the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day. Read more about this year's finalists.

MIchaelSollisMichael Sollis: Young Australian of the Year (ACT)

An innovative musician, published researcher in anthropology, and much-performed composer Michael Sollis still finds time to educate and inspire children with his love of composition and performance.  Among his many roles Michael chairs the Australian Youth Music Council and International Music Council Youth, he is State Manager for Musica Viva, composer, and Artistic Director of The Griffyn Ensemble. Read more

Garth Mansfield OAM: Senior Australian of the Year (ACT)

In addition to careers in teaching, public service and private enterprise, Garth Mansfield was successively organist and choir director at Canberra’s St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and Wesley Uniting Church for five decades. In 2002, his dream of establishing a centre for fine musical performance for the Canberra community was realised through the Wesley Music Centre. Read more

Jessica Mauboy: Young Australian of the Year (NT)

Raised on a diet of country music singers like Charlie Pride and Patsy Cline, Jessica Mauboy’s stellar singing career has certainly blossomed since she leapt into the limelight as runner-up in Australian Idol in 2006.  Since then she has released three albums and starred in two films, Bran Nue Dae and most recently The Sapphires. Read more | See also

John Curro AM MBE: Senior Australian of the Year (QLD)

John Curro is both the founder and Director of Music for Queensland Youth Orchestras. Since its inception in 1966, he has conducted the Queensland Youth Symphony. Under his continuing artistic leadership it is regarded as one of the top youth orchestras in Australia and has toured internationally for several decades.  Read more

AhmadSarmastDr Ahmad Sarmast: Australian of the Year (VIC)

Dr Ahmad Sarmast, a musician and refugee who fled civil war in Afghanistan to come to Australia, uses music as a unifying force to break down social, political, religious and ethnic barriers in his war-torn homeland. Against the odds and showing tremendous courage, Ahmad has established a national institute of music in Kabul to promote peace and build democracy. Read more

His work with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music has been documented in the film Dr Sarmast's Music School

Dorothy Hamilton: Senior Australian of the Year (VIC)

Blind since birth 86 years ago, Dorothy Hamilton has brought the wonderful gift of music to hundreds of blind students teaching them to read and write Braille music. She is a gifted music transcriber whose labour of love for the past 35 years has been to translate printed music into Braille. Read more

Dr Rita Seethaler:  Local Hero (VIC)

After Dr Rita Seethaler lived through the Black Saturday bushfires she witnessed a devastated community ‘in a pitch black pit’. She wanted to help and her response was certainly unorthodox. A long-time performer of Caribbean steel pan music, she believed the pans could bring people together. She began by offering Trinidadian steel pan workshops to communities around Marysville. They were so popular and therapeutic that the first band, Pans on Fire, was formed. Soon after two more bands emerged – a band for beginners called Hot Pans – and Jammin’, a band for mums and kids. Read more

Special mention goes to Harold Mitchell AC, a Senior Australian of the Year finalist (VIC) for his contribution to the arts and health in Australia. Since 2000, his Foundation has distributed more than $7 million to projects related to health and the arts. He is a past Chairman of the National Gallery Australia, past President of the Melbourne International Festival of Arts, and a former Board Member of the Opera Australia Council.  Read more | see also Harold Mitchell Foundation