Concerto Aria Competition 2021

Congratulations to Brian Luo and Nathan Sinclair, joint winners of the 2021 Concerto-Aria Competition. 

You can watch both winning performances and read more about these musicians below.

Brian Luo

Brian Luo - Third Piano Concerto by Rachmaninov

20 year-old Brian Luo is a 3rd year piano student at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne studying with Glenn Riddle. Previously he studied with Prof. David Lockett AM in Adelaide on a Single Studies Scholarship at the Elder Conservatorium and then with Patsy Toh on full scholarship at the renowned Purcell School in London. Brian’s studies in London were also supported by a British Government scholarship. After winning an internal school competition at Purcell, Brian had a variety of performance opportunities both as soloist and chamber musician, and was given the opportunity to perform at Milton Court as well as in Sacile (Italy), Venice, and Scotland. Since arriving back in Australia, Brian was awarded the Conservatorium’s Pearis Rodgers Scholarship to study at the University of Melbourne. Other awards include the Musical Society of Victoria’s Hephzibah Menuhin Piano Award and 1st Prize in the Melbourne Recital Centre Great Romantics Competition (receiving the prestigious Elisabeth Murdoch prize). In 2020 Brian was invited to give a recital at the Peninsula Summer Music Festival.

Nathan Sinclair

Nathan Sinclair - Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra by Rodrigo

Nathan Sinclair commenced his PhD studies at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in July 2021, specialising in the performance practice of guitar works by Joaquin Rodrigo and related early 20th Century Spanish composers. Nathan is a former winner of the Australian International Guitar competition (2004), as well as a prize winner and finalist in the Concurso Internacional Joaquin Rodrigo (2006), Singapore Guitar competition, and Tokyo International Guitar Competition.  He has performed with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, The Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and contemporary artists such as Sting.  Since 2014, Nathan has worked predominantly as a session guitarist in the varied disciplines of classical, contemporary, and flamenco guitar. Nathan began playing the guitar some 35 years ago and is a protégé of the late Isolde Schaupp.


Anna Gao
Piano Concerto by Grieg

Brian Luo*
Third Piano Concerto by Rachmaninov

Bridget Bourne
Der gerettete Alberich by Rouse for percussion and orchestra

Charlotte Miles
Cello Concerto by Elgar

Georgia White
Second Clarinet Concerto by Weber

James Emerson
Arias for Bass-Baritone by Handel, Beethoven and Verdi

Justinn Lu
Saxophone Concerto by Ibert

Katrina Wang
Sinfonia Concertante by Prokofiev for cello and orchestra

Lisette Bolton
Knoxville Summer of 1915 by Barber for soprano and orchestra

Massimiliano Castor
Tuba Concerto by Broughton

Nathan Sinclair*
Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra by Rodrigo

Rosemarry Yang
Horn Concerto by Gliere

Sandra Ionescu
Viola Concerto by Walton

Sangmi Kim
Piano Concerto by Schumann

Stefan Grant
Horn Concerto by Forster

Tina Yilan Tao
First Piano Concerto by Rachmaninov

Vincent Wang
Cello Concerto by Schumann

William Hanna
Concertino by Crusell for bassoon and orchestra

* Joint winners of the 2021 Concerto-Aria Competition

Near the end of each academic year, students across the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music are invited to compete for the opportunity to perform in the following year as a soloist with the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the University of Melbourne Wind Symphony, or one of the other Conservatorium ensembles. Preparing for the 2021 Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Concerto-Aria Competition was very challenging for all of us during lockdown. Nonetheless, students and teachers in the Conservatorium demonstrated enormous resilience and determination in their effort to continue their pursuit of musical excellence despite the very constrained circumstances.

Since a live competition was not possible, the Final Round of the 2021 Concerto-Aria Competition was based on an unedited video recording of approximately 20 minutes, recorded by most candidates at home under lockdown conditions. Eighteen students were selected for the Final Round based on nominations and preliminary rounds conducted in each performance area. The 18 finalists represented all concert repertoire areas in the Conservatorium, competing with concert arias for voice and concertos for piano, viola, cello, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, horn, tuba, guitar, and percussion.

Finalists submitted their recordings by Thursday September 16, and the joint winners were announced in an Award Ceremony on September 20. All recordings were judged only on performance quality, not on recording quality or other factors arising from recording under lockdown conditions.

We are especially delighted that this year $2000 in prize money was available thanks to the generous support of the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society Yarra. Two prizes of $1000 each were awarded at the discretion of the Adjudication Panel, which included internationally renowned pianist Caroline Almonte, Head of Orchestral Studies Associate Professor Richard Davis, and Director of Wind Symphony and Concert Band Associate Professor Nicholas Williams.

Selected finalists will be invited to give a solo performance with a Conservatorium ensemble in 2022, as soon as conditions allow.  Their performances will be presented live, if possible, or recorded and streamed online.  More information about these performances will be made available on this website in the months ahead.

Thank you for your interest in our competition, and above all, in the commitment and brilliance of our students, who are all rising above the adversities of the moment!

Previous Winners

Jackie Wong - Korngold's Violin Concerto - 2020 Joint Winner

Caleb Wong - Dvorak's Cello Concerto - Joint 2020 Winner

Hannah Shin - Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 - 2019 Winner

Hannah Shin - Piano Recital - 2019 Winner

Christopher Wong - Britten's Piano Concerto - 2018 Winner

Heather Fletcher - Elgar's Sea Pictures - 2017 Winner

Kevin Chow - Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 - 2016 Winner