jazz and improvised music

YOUNG WOMEN's international program - alex silver quintet
The Alex Silver Quintet

In 2013, SIMA was invited to perform at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival and the Inverurie Jazz Festival in Scotland.

An ensemble led by Alex Silver, and young women who have been involved in our Young Women's jazz workshops were selected for this honour.  The Alex Silver Quintet had its premiere performance at the Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival in 2012.

After eleven years of presenting Young Women in Jazz Workshops, founded by Sandy Evans, OA, the chance for an exciting collaboration has taken place with plans for growing this partnership into the future.

This fantastic opportunity took place after a meeting between Stewart Aitkins, the Artistic Director of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and Joanne Kee, Artistic Partnerships Manager at SIMA.

Even more exciting is the possibility of opening further doors between the Australian and UK arts communities.  During the tour members of the Alex Silver Quintet performed with current and past winners of the Young Scottish Jazz awards at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen.

The talented ensemble consists of Alex Silver, band leader and also course leader for the Young Women in Jazz workshops, (which is co-hosted by SIMA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music), who indeed, actually was a participant of the course.  Other participants are now studying at the Sydney Con and include Emma Stephenson, Holly Conner, Melissa Mony and Lucy Clifford.

The workshops aim to offer women pathways into a jazz career, in what can often be a male dominated landscape. It is not a feminist statement, but when course founder Sandy Evans started the program, it was a response to encourage women to consider a career in jazz. 

After eleven years, the fruits of this program have been paying off with an increase in female enrolments at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  SIMA has also confirmed that discussions are underway to expand the program to Western Australia in partnership with WAYJO and in the Coffs Harbour Conservatorium.

The audience response was tremendous, with consistent rave reviews from the audience, and local musicians.

Alex SilverAlex Silver is band leader for S.N.A.F.U.  She has performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, Vienne Jazz Festival, Ascona Jazz Festival, Manly Jazz Festival and Wangaratta Jazz Festival to name just a few, and has performed with some of Australia’s most notable jazz performers including James Morrison, Don Burrows, the catholics, Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra, Jackie Orzcazsky, Dale Barlow and George Gruntz and Andy Scherrer in Europe as well as other notable performers including The Whitlams and Tex Perkins.

She was the Winner of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award for Young Women in Jazz in 2005, was awarded a Highly Commended in the 2006 IAJE Women’s Collegiate Competition and won the Pan Pacific James Morrison Scholarship. 

In addition to being a band leader she is the Director of the annual Young Women in Jazz workshops run by SIMA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Lucy Clifford
is a bassist from the south coast of NSW. Performing nationally and internationally with various bands/artists including The Eric Dunan Quintet, Genevieve Davis Band, Southerly Change, Wollongong Jazz Orchestra and The Soul Traders, Lucy has performed at such venues as The Basement, The Sound Lounge and Biscuits and Blues Club (usa), as well as various festivals including Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, Art of Living Festival and the Reno Jazz Festival (usa).

Awarded with the Jan Rutherford mentorship award in 2007, coordinated by the Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA), Lucy continues to study various musical styles in the hopes of becoming a prominent bassist in the Jazz and Pop markets. Lucy has been fortunate enough to study with acclaimed artists including Bobby Shew, Mike Nock, Craig Scott, Ron Philpot, Dave Theak and Matt McMahon among others whilst completing her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Holly Connor - has been playing drums and percussion for 10 years. She is currently 19 and this year began a degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

As well as being part of the Alex Silver Quintet, she regularly plays in small combos and is the drummer for the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra big band.

Holly has also played with Sirens Big Band, a professional big band, plus NSW Dept of Education Performing Arts Unit Ensembles (2008-2011), Jazz Orchestra (2008-2010), Symphonic Wind Ensemble (2008-2011), Symphony Orchestra (guest player, 2008-2011).  In high school Holly regularly performed at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, Sydney Entertainment Centre and other public venues.  She participated in Sydney Improvised Music Association's Young Women’s Jazz Workshops from 2007 to 2012 (2007-2012).  Her blog from the 2012 Workshops is on the ABC website.

Holly toured Europe in 2011 with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra and performed in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and did workshops with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. Holly was also selected for mentorship by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2011.

Melissa Mony - Melissa Mony has been studying saxophone for ten years under the tutelage of saxophonists such as Graham Jesse, Sandy Evans and David Theak. In 2009 & 2010 she completed the SIMA Women in Jazz Workshops and subsequently decided to pursue music as a career. Melissa is currently studying a Bachelor of Music in jazz performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Melissa has been a member of the Sussudio Big Band, Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra and the PAU Jazz Orchestra which won the Generations in Jazz Division 1 Big Band Competition two years in a row. Melissa has performed with these bands at numerous festivals including the Manly Jazz Festival, Darling Harbour Jazz festival, Thredbo Jazz festival, Sydney Festival First Night and venues such as The Basement, 505, and The Sound Lounge.  In 2012 she recorded with the Sirens Big Band and appeared as a soloist on their debut album ‘Kali and the time of change’.

Emma Stephenson
Emma Stephenson is a versatile musician currently studying jazz performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she has received tuition from several well known sydney jazz musicians including Judy Bailey, Matt McMahon, Mike Nock and Andrew Dickeson. In 2010 she was the recipient of the Pat Corrigan Scholarship for her  achievements at the sydney based Jazz Workshop Australia Jazz Camp, which funded the recording of her first album - reviewed in Limelight magazine in early 2012.

At present she is working in many different groups, including her own originals band, "the Bubblewrap Sensation" with whom she writes music, plays keys and sings lead vocals. This band recently won a competition which saw them performing to several thousand people at Hyde Park on St Patricks Day 2012. Emma has been the pianist for sydney big bands "Jazz Connection" (run by Judy Bailey) and "Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra" (Run by Saul Richardson.)

In recent months she has performed at venues such as Sydney Town Hall, The Vanguard, The 505, The Blue Beat and has played with musicians such as Bernie McGann, John Morrison (Swing City), Jonothan Zwarts, Ed Gaston, Brendan Clarke, and Sally Cameron (the Idea of North). This year she has been on tour to regional Australia representing the Sydney Conservatorium jazz course with her trio (Oliver Nelson on drums and James Heazlewood Dale on bass). In August 2012 she was part of a young jazz artists showcase run by Sally Cameron and Emma Pask on Eastside radio. Emma plans to travel overseas after finishing her course in 2014 and then return to Sydney to continue to developing her diverse musical career.


Aberdeen International Youth Festival
International Youth Arts Festival