2004 Winners

Christopher Tonkin

Christopher Tonkin is currently working on a PHD in composition at the University of California, San Diego. In 2002, Christopher was among 7 (seven) Australian composers commissioned to Forum 2002, a biennial event in Montreal, Canada. While living and composing there he produced a piece selected by the International Jury for a repeat performance. He has more recently attended Voix Nouvelles, along with 14 other international composers, where he composed and performed a piece for the French Music Theatre Ensemble.

Christopher has a particular interest in live interactive performance with computers. In 2004/2005 he will attend a computer music composition course at IRCAM (Institute de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in France. This will ideally lead to further developments within the classical field, as Christopher aims to assist performers and ensembles in including live electronics within their repertoire.

Tamara O’Brien

Tamara O’Brien has composed music for over 10 short films and documentaries and worked on various other projects from corporate videos to advertisements. Some of the films have been selected to tour nationally in film festivals. “Not Quite Cricket” was selected for the 2002 Taormina BNL International Film Festival in Italy.

She has just completed a Graduate Diploma in Screen Composition at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and has received various awards through the McDonalds Performing Arts Challenge. She has studied with some of Australia’s finest composers including Martin Armiger, John Charles, Nigel Westlake, Jan Preston, Chris Neal and Phillip Brophy.
Tamara has an interest in the Chinese/Hong Kong film industry and will travel there in 2004 to develop relationships with various companies and individuals. She also intends to enrol in the UCLA Extension Course in Film Scoring and focus on music producing and conducting, with the ultimate aim to take an internship with a composer in LA.

Mace Francis

Mace Francis began his musical career as singer/songwriter for rock band, The Hounds. Having won the Battle of the Bands in Victoria in 1996, he did a Diploma of Jazz and Popular Music. This led to a cultural exchange Arte Link 2000 in Italy for 10 weeks.

Mace spent additional time in New York to experience jazz before returning to Australia and undertaking a Bachelor Music – Jazz (arranging and composition major) at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He completed this course last year and was inducted into the Edith Cowan University Chapter - Golden Key International Honours Society and has accepted an invitation to do honours this year.

Mace has been commissioned for original composition by the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Western Australian Conservatorium Latin Ensemble. His ambition is to study composition and arrangement in Austria under Ed Partyka in the coming year.

Dianna Corcoran

Dianna began her career in country music when she was 12 years old. She followed the country music talent quest circuit until she was 19 and received over 350 acknowledgements for songwriting, female vocal, gospel and yodelling during this time. Two years ago, Dianna began to seriously focus on songwriting and released her debut album “Little Bit Crazy” at the Kernaghan Family Concert during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2003. John Nutting of ABC radio heard the CD and began promoting it. This then paved the way for Dianna to sign with Compass Brothers Records and Jimmy Forty Publishing.

The current single from the album “I’ll Fly Away” won her the title of 2003 Independent Country Music Female Rising Star. It was also nominated for Single of the Year at the Australian Independent Country Music awards. The album was also nominated for Album of the Year at the same Awards. More recently Dianna was awarded Best New Talent at the 2004 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Dianna plans to further her songwriting career through workshops and seminars in the US later this year.

Mia Dyson

Mia Dyson released her debut album , “Cold Water” last year. It received substantial airplay on JJJ, ABC Radio National and community and independent radio stations. The album was distributed through Shock Records and she received an ARIA nomination for Best Blues and Roots Album. Mia has performed at numerous festivals around the country; East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, National Country Music Muster and UBlues Festival in Singapore to name a few. Mia has been invited to co-write with Renee Geyer and tour with high profile artists such as Tex Perkins, Mick Thomas, Eric Bibb and Monique Brumby.

Mia would like to spend time in North America around the middle of this year and participate in music festivals and conferences in both the United States and Canada.


Vasilliki Karagiogos has grown up in a multilingual environment and can sing and speak fluently in English, French and Greek. She has studied Jazz Vocal Technique and Theory at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as well as studied eastern music/dance, keyboards and saxophone.

In 2003, Vassy won the Triple J Unearthed competition for the Northern Territory for her song “Cover You In Kisses”. Her song “Poirquois Pas” also won the Noise Festival ‘Sonic All Sorts Projects: Modern Music: Native Tongue’. These songs are part of Vassy’s debut EP which was released by Fly Music/ABC Records and published through ABC Music Publishing.

Vassy has also collaborated with many high profile songwriters including Katalyst, Paulmac, The Herd and Deni Hines.

Vassy aspires to be recognised as a multilingual artist in Australia, France and Greece. She plans to explore song writing collaborations with international writers and artists.

Winner Jessica Michalik Contemporary Music Endowment

Katy Steele

Little Birdy is fronted by 20 year old singer/guitarist Katy Steele. Her vocal range, song writing, and sartorial splendour have attracted comparisons to Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and Chrissie Hynde. Katy’s band mates are Simon Leach on the big ol’ blues-tinged guitar and backing vocals, Scott O’Donoghue on the five (yes, five) string bass, and Matt Chequer laying down a wall of drums.
The group first started gigging around their hometown of Perth in early 2003. In October they released their self-titled debut EP. The haunting lead track, ‘Relapse’ and was voted #1 on the Triple J national Net 50 poll. The disc spent ten weeks at #1 on the indie charts and peaked at #27 on the ARIA top 40, leading Rolling Stone to pick them as one of their “Top 10 Artists To Watch” in 2004.
They’ve supported Placebo, Morcheeba, The Cruel Sea, Alex Lloyd and Paul Kelly (who invited Katy to perform a duet with him!). The group has undertaken several headlining Australian tours, performing sell-out shows in all capital cities and some regional areas too. They’ve also played showcase gigs in New York, London and Los Angeles and plan to return overseas later this year . 
Their forthcoming EP ‘This Is A Love Song ’, is due to hit the shops in early March.

“I’m sure Jessica would understand our direction in music. She was a vibrant young woman who loved her music, surrounded herself with it, not unlike myself. Everthing we gain from This award allows the opportunity to fine tuning our first album release and plan possible travel to the USA.” – Katy Steele


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