Last year, with the global pandemic decimating the arts industry around the world, we decided not to hold our annual Artists of the Year awards. Although COVID is still with us, and restrictions and lockdowns continue to wreak havoc on the arts, artists have managed to be inventive and resilient, creating exciting, innovative work for digital platforms as well as performing live and continuing to record. And so we felt that as a sign of support for the wonderful work that artists have been able to create in 2021, we would once again celebrate the Limelight Australian and International Artists of the Year, despite the cancellations and postponements caused by the coronavirus.

Artists of the Year

As in recent years, we will be presenting both Critics’ and People’s Choice Awards. Our critics have voted to create a shortlist of 40 outstanding artists and ensembles – 20 from Australia and 20 from overseas. (For these awards, an international artist who leads an Australian orchestra, ensemble or arts company is considered an Australian artist.) The nominees include performers, composers, conductors, directors, artistic directors and ensembles, working in music, opera and theatre.

So who would you like to see recognised for their work in 2021? We are asking our readers to vote for the Australian and international artists that have thrilled them most. The announcement of the winners will be made in our December 2021 magazine, available online from 22 November, 2021.

Vote for your five favourites in each category and you could win a copy of Sony’s Birgit Nilsson Edition: The Great Live Recordings, a 31CD box set valued at $190.

Voting closes on Sunday 17 October at 11:59pm AEDT.

Full list of nominees

Australian artists

William Barton
Anne Cawrse
Umberto Clerici
Peter Coleman-Wright
Jacqueline Dark
Helena Dix
Claire Edwardes
Erin Helyard
Genevieve Lacey
Dane Lam
Liza Lim
Stuart Maunder
Melbourne Digital Concert Hall
Katie Noonan
Benjamin Northey
Eryn Jean Norvill
Pinchgut Opera
Konstantin Shamray
Simon Stone
Emily Sun

International artists

Jamie Barton
Nicola Benedetti
J’Nai Bridges
Imogen Cooper
Alan Cumming
Lise Davidsen
Matthias Goerne
Isata Kanneh-Mason
Sheku Kanneh-Mason
Igor Levit
Lise Lindstrom
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Nico Muhly
Víkingur Ólafsson
Kirill Petrenko
Kaija Saariaho
András Schiff
Ching-Lien Wu
Sonya Yoncheva

Image credits: William Barton © Keith Saunders | Anne Cawrse © Claudia Raschella | Umberto Clerici © Brooke Turnbridge | Peter Coleman-Wright © Adam Ulrich | Jacqueline Dark © Kurt Sneddon | Helena Dix © Clare Hannan | Claire Edwardes © Nat Cartney | Erin Helyard © Brett Boardman | Genevieve Lacey © Josh Robenstone | Dane Lam © Edmond Choo | Liza Lim © Klaus Rudolf | Stuart Maunder © Jason Vandepeer | Melbourne Digital Concert Hall © Albert Comper | Katie Noonan © Wilk | Benjamin Northey © Matt Irwin | Eryn Jean Norvill © Dan Boud | Pinchgut Opera © Lando Rossi | Konstantin Shamray © Claudio Raschella | Simon Stone © Reinhard Maximilian Werner | Emily Sun © Shin-Joong Kim | Jamie Barton © James Niebuhr | Nicola Benedetti © Andy Gotts | J’Nai Bridges © Karen Almond | Imogen Cooper © Sussie Ahlburg | Alan Cumming © Francis Hills | Lise Davidsen © James Hole | Matthias Goerne © Marie Staggat | Isata Kanneh-Mason © Robin Clewley | Sheku Kanneh-Mason © Jake Turney | Igor Levit © Felix Broede | Lise Lindstrom © Rosie Hardy | Lin-Manuel Miranda © Joan Marcus | Nico Muhly © Ana Cuba | Víkingur Ólafsson © Ari Magg | Kirill Petrenko © Wilfried Hösl | Kaija Saariaho © Priska Ketterer | András Schiff © Nicolas Brodard | VOCES8 © Andy Staples | Ching-Lien Wu © Sebastien Galtier | Sonya Yoncheva © Gregor Hohenberg
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