The prestigious award, given annually by the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, was presented yesterday at a special concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where Ms Bailey is a casual lecturer in Jazz Piano and Composition.
Ms Bailey has been an enduring figure in Sydney’s music scene, contributing her skills and energy in performance, composition and education since moving to Australia from Auckland in 1960.
Throughout the 1960s, she performed at the El Rocco Jazz Cellar with Australian jazz legends John Sangster, Don Burrows and Graeme Lyall, and regularly performed on all the major television stations.
A sought-after pianist and arranger, Ms Bailey was a member of Tommy Tycho’s Orchestra (Channel 7), Don Burrow’s Septet (ABC), John Bamford’s Orchestra (Channel 9) and Jack Grimsley’s Orchestra (Channel 10).
In the 1970s Ms Bailey was instrumental in teaching into the newly established jazz studies program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was the was the Musical Director (Jazz) for the Bennelong series at the Sydney Opera House.
With her quartet, Ms Bailey travelled to Southeast Asia on concert tours organised by Musica Viva, and during the 1980s was musical director of the Sydney Youth Jazz Ensemble Association. In recent decades, her focus has shifted towards teaching and composing.
Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Director Gary McPherson said he was delighted to see Ms Bailey honoured with the award.
“Judy Bailey is one of the greats of Australian jazz, one of the country’s most creative, versatile, and prominent jazz musicians,” Professor McPherson said.
“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the extraordinary breadth of her achievements – as a pianist and composer, but also as a much-loved teacher – with this award.”
Ms Bailey’s contribution to Australian music has been recognised with several other prestigious awards, including the inaugural APRA Award for Jazz Composition and the 2004 Order of Australia Medal for services to music and education.
She was the first jazz musician to receive the Australian Classical Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, was was inducted into the Graeme Bell Jazz Hall of Fame in 2014 and last year was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sydney.
Sir Bernard Heinze was one of the major pioneers of orchestral musical life in Australia, and the Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne for 31 years.
Since 1988, and in honour of his memory, the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award has been made annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to music in Australia.
Past recipients include former University of Melbourne Faculty of Music Dean Sir Ronald Farren-Price, composer Carl Vine, pianist Stephen McIntyre, singer Yvonne Kenny, composer Peter Sculthorpe, conductor John Hopkins, and horn player Barry Tuckwell, Australian Chamber Orchestra leader Richard Tognetti, conductor and composer Brett Dean, conductor Simone Young and music educator Sir Frank Callaway.