Newsletter 2008

Greetings Stacey Supporters!

It’s been a year since I wrote to you and I hope you will take the time to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and read our positive news. . . allow yourself to luxuriate in some music of your choice and be aware of how much music enhances, calms our lives and helps us express emotions that words are not able to.  If you support the Stacey Trust I know you are nodding your head in agreement – thank goodness music is part of our lives.

There is plenty of news on the Stacey Trust front and it is with great pleasure I have the job of relaying it to you:

The Brian Stacey Award 2008

(for emerging Australian Conductors) as part of the Helpmann Awards
Stacey Trust history was made by announcing our ‘joint’ winners of the 2008 Brian Stacey Award; Paul Fitzsimon & Vanessa Scammell

Our 11th (joint) Stacey Award winners were announced at the Helpmann Award Nominations Media Launch at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Monday 30 June 2008.  Vanessa Scammell flew into Melbourne for the day from Sydney and Melbourne based Paul Fitzsimon were both presented with a $3,000 cheque by Kathryn Sadler (Chair) $6,000 in total prize money was $1,000 more than the singular prize, thanks to the generosity of the Arts Centre ‘giving’ us the, now in place, Stacey Dedication Plaque in the State Theatre (see next section of this letter for details) It was wonderful to have and meet both winners in person at the presentation in Melbourne and to meet these two contrasting and uniquely talented Conductors. Paul and Vanessa appeared at the national Helpmann Awards Ceremony as the presenters for the ‘Best Musical Direction’ in Sydney on Monday 28 July at the Lyric Theatre, Star City.  Vanessa was, co-incidentally also the Musical Director for the Helpmann Awards Ceremony itself and thus had an exceptionally busy night with well deserved accolades!  The Helpmann Awards was broadcast live to air on BIO Television channel.

It is important at this point we acknowledge and thank our wonderful Musical Advisory Panel, Guy Noble, Brett Kelly and Tony Gould.  These three notable legends in music in Australia
generously gave their expert time and energy to help the Trustees process the largest number of entries to date for the 2008 Stacey Award and make selection recommendations.  It was noted that the standard was generally very high and a credit to all those who took the time and effort to put together a suitable entry. This is surely testimony to the rising standard of skill and development in music in Australia from emerging innovative diverse Australian talent.

Extracts from Winners Vision Statements:

‘My stance and belief is we are all students in music, no matter in what area and that the ability to cross over into varying styles should be encouraged and applauded.’- Vanessa Scammell

‘Music in Australia has a rich and varied history, being particularly impressive considering the great distance that this country lies from the concert halls of Europe and America.  For this tradition to move confidently into the future we must consolidate its strengths and be innovative in the ways in which we expand our audience levels. We must aim to become a sustainable industry, not reliant so much on funding from government bodies but instead from our audiences.’- Paul Fitzsimon
See Paul Fitzsimon and Vanessa Scammell’s Biogs at the end of the newsletter.

‘A seat for Stace in the State’ AT LONG LAST!

S10 in the State Theatre Stalls now bears the plaque in loving memory of our ‘Stace’.


We are so very grateful and would like to again thank Tim Jacobs and the Arts Centre for giving us the engraved plaque. We had raised the $1,000 it would normally cost in 2006 and so I am able to announce due to the Arts Centre’s generosity this money went instead directly to the joint winners prize for the 2008 Stacey Award. A win-win for all! Finally we have a concrete memory in a most appropriate theatre venue for Brian Stacey!

Above is what the plaque has engraved on it, and below is a photo of Stace sitting in the State Theatre Stalls. So next time you are at the State Theatre, wander down to the Stalls and have a look at S10:

brian_stacey_sitting in theatre.jpg


NEWS FLASH! – About some of our Past Winners

Of course the only way we can continue to encourage and support emerging Australian conductors  through our annual Stacey Award in the future, is by your ongoing generosity and support.  The Stacey Trust is proud to now have 12 wonderful recipients over the past 11 years and it is with excitement and joy that I share with you some of their recent successes.

Kellie Dickerson (2002) our first female recipient, is currently the Musical Director of ‘Wicked’ that opened at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne just a few weeks ago. This show is a world wide success and it is such a feather in Kellie’s cap that she was entrusted with the MD job. I saw it with my two boys a week after it opened and met Kellie for a backstage tour after, I was bursting with pride as she did such an awesome job with the music and is clearly displaying the steady, creative and nurturing hand holding the baton that Stace once held.

Benjamin Northey (2003) who is principal conductor with the Australian Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, is one of only three conductors selected from around the world to join the International Conductor’s Academy in London.  Ben went to London in Oct 07 and worked with the London Philharmonic’s principal conductor, Russian Vladimir Jurowski. This was follow by five more sessions in London working with the LPO and the Philharmonia Orchestra, culminating in a concert appearance at the Royal Festival Hall with the LPO and violinist Yossif Ivanov in June this year.  It was thrilling to read in the Age in Dec last year an article headlined ‘One of the world’s best has returned home to ply his trade.’ In the body of an excellent story about Ben it said: ‘One of the reasons he is in demand is his versatility. “I am surely the only conductor to have conducted the London Philharmonic and the Hilltop Hoods within six months of each other,” he says’.  Ben is settling back in Australia this year and has done a variety of work including concerts with Orchestra Victoria, ‘Opera in the Alps’ with Yvonne Kenny, APO’s ‘Vienna Waits for You’ gala concerts and a lot more.

Dane Lam (2007) has been not only doing exceptionally well as the youngest and first Australian conducting student at New York’s Julliard School, he has had the forsight and diligence to write about and share his experiences for the first semester. Here are a couple of extracts from this:

Semester One:   While at first I felt as though I was “treading water”, I have surprised myself in consistently rising to the challenges of student life at arguably the finest performing arts school in the world. Not only do I find myself completing my tasks adequately but I now feel I can complete them at a very high level. One tends to feel intimidated by the pedigree of foreign (particularly American and European) trained musicians. Perhaps this is symptomatic of Australia’s geographic place in the world. However, I have found these reservations to be wholly unfounded. In my experience my background and training have been a wonderful foundation from which I could take my studies to the next level. I believe this is testament to the impeccable artistic and academic training of both the University of Queensland and Symphony Services Australia’s Conductor Development Program.

Of course, this tremendous adventure would have been light years beyond my reach financially if not for the assistance of several generous individuals and organizations. If I said I appreciated the assistance before I embarked on the first step of the journey, I’d say now I truly appreciate the meaning of ‘gratitude.’ Financial support such as this is more than just admirable. It is the lifeline upon which emerging artists depend to have access to high level training and it ensures the development of a new generation of artists. It is a magnanimous gesture which enables a musician from Australia to make the first baby steps towards an international career. The training and exposure to culture at Juilliard would be unattainable anywhere else. It is unique and I feel incredibly fortunate to be here, absorbing all that is on offer. Verily, this experience has opened my eyes to what is and what can be possible with hard work, dedication and rock solid conviction that I find a career as a conductor.
(Dane gained A’s for 5 of 7 subjects in Semester One)

Hunting and Gathering to tell the Stacey Trust Story

We continue to gather footage, interviews, newspaper clippings and photos to tell the Stacey Trust Story.  In our second year without fundraising events, it becomes increasingly more poignant, pressing and important to tell our story and be sure that the new generation of Australian Music Makers have some idea who Stace was, that his legacy burns brightly through the Stacey Award and that those passing the Stacey baton are nurturing the growing musical garden plot with integrity, flare and expertise.

Our aim is to put a draft documentary together to apply for further funds to complete a finished product for the future.  If you are able to assist with funds or contacts for this process, please feel free to call or email me.

We hope we can continue to support and nurture more Australian emerging conductors way into the future with your help. Even the smallest donation will make a difference and we thank you for your support in the past as well as the future.

I hope you really did indulge in the sensations of your favourite music and a cuppa, thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter.

In Stace’s words ‘go well’.

Andrea Gaze
Director & Administrator

Joint Winners of the 2008 Stacey Trust Award

The Brian Stacey Memorial Trust congratulate Vanessa Scammell & Paul Fitzsimon on winning the 2008 Brian Stacey Award


Currently the Assistant Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Paul Fitzsimon graduated from the University of Melbourne where he completed a Bachelor of Music majoring in piano performance under Stephen McIntyre.

In 2001 and 2002 he was an assistant conductor with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra and since 2003 has been an active participant in the Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program, working with Gianluigi Gelmetti, János Fürst, Sir Charles Mackerras, Christopher Seaman and others. As part of these courses he has conducted performances with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

In 2003 Paul attended the conducting classes at the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, with Maestro Gianluigi Gelmetti, and was funded by the Sydney Symphony to live in Sydney and study further with Maestro Gelmetti in early 2004.

In June 2006 Paul attended a master class by János Fürst at the Royal Academy of Music in London, funded by an Australia Council grant.

For the 2006 Melbourne International Festival, Paul conducted the Australian premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Hommage a T. S. Eliot, and as part of his assistant conductorship with Melbourne Chorale in 2007 he conducted the world premieres of new works by Australian composers Ian Munro and Stephen Wood, broadcast on ABC FM.

Paul conducted a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Overture with WASO as part of the 2007 Symphony Australia Young Performer Awards Grand Final and also a performance of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas at Chapel off Chapel.  In December last year he conducted the Australian premiere of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Sealed Angel with Melbourne Chorale.

Paul hopes to use the $3,000 Stacey Award prize to assist him in attending the Sir George Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany in November this year.


In 1992 Vanessa graduated from the Melbourne Conservatorium with a Bachelor of Music – Honours in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Music Education. Vanessa continued her studies at the Sydney Conservatorium completing a Graduate Diploma of Music – Opera Repetiteur.

Vanessa worked extensively as an opera repetituer/rehearsal pianist and coach for the Victoria State Opera, Opera Australia and many Music Theatre Productions before she began her conducting studies.

Vanessa’s Music Director/Conductor credits include THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Asian Tour, The Really Useful Group Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Fiddler on the Roof Australia Pty Ltd, TITANIC Seabiscuit Productions, SOUTH PACIFIC Adelaide and Sydney seasons, Seabiscuit Productions, CATS The World Tour, Bejing, Taipei, Athens and  the South Korean Tour of CATS The Really Useful Group/Seol and Co., INTO THE WOODS IMG/Equity Fights Aids

Vanessa is currently the Musical Director of the Australian tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and is studying her Masters of Music in Conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium.  She is looking forward to conducting ‘Damn Yankees’ for The Production Company later this year and would like to acknowledge her conducting professors, Vladimir Vais and Imre Pallo.

Vanessa will use her $3,000 Stacey Award prize to help fund her Masters of Music in Conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium under Maestro Imre Pallo.