Sydney Conservatorium of Music http://music.sydney.edu.au Celebrating 100 years of music in 2015 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:45:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dr Amanda Harris awarded Honorary Fellowship http://music.sydney.edu.au/dr-amanda-harris-awarded-honorary-fellowship/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/dr-amanda-harris-awarded-honorary-fellowship/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:29:08 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3978 Dr Amanda Harris, Research Associate at Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s PARADISEC has won the National and State Libraries Australasia and Library Council of New South Wales Honorary Fellowship for 2014. Harris has been awarded the Honorary Fellowship at the State … Continue reading

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Dr Amanda Harris

Dr Amanda Harris, Research Associate at Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s PARADISEC has won the National and State Libraries Australasia and Library Council of New South Wales Honorary Fellowship for 2014.

Harris has been awarded the Honorary Fellowship at the State Library of New South Wales for her research project “Imagining an Indigenous Australian Style: the post WWII creative works of Beth Dean and Mirrie Hill”.

This project will examine the personal papers, musical scores and multimedia of choreography Beth Dean and composer Mirrie Hill. This project will focus on the parts of the collections that reveal how they each document Aboriginal music and dance and uses these as the basis for their own creations which, though very different from each other, are linked by their positions as creative women in the period after the Second World War.

More information on the Honorary Fellowship can be found here:
www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/nsla.html

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The Con’s biggest encore yet: turning 100 http://music.sydney.edu.au/cons-biggest-encore-yet-turning-100/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/cons-biggest-encore-yet-turning-100/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 04:11:39 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3950 The iconic castle-like building with its distinctive turrets, sitting on the historical site of Sydney’s first bakery, which housed Governor Macquarie’s horse stables in the 1800s and was then turned into a prolific music school in 1915, is celebrating a … Continue reading

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CONSERVATORIUM drawing (HIGH)-1The iconic castle-like building with its distinctive turrets, sitting on the historical site of Sydney’s first bakery, which housed Governor Macquarie’s horse stables in the 1800s and was then turned into a prolific music school in 1915, is celebrating a significant milestone next year. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is turning 100 in May 2015 and will celebrate in the way it does best – with spectacular music!

To mark its official birthday on 6 May 2015, an epic performance of MASS by the formidable 20th century composer Leonard Bernstein will be staged at the Sydney Opera House. Over 400 high school and tertiary students, staff and alumni of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and guest performers from Sydney Children’s Choir will star in this extraordinary production.

Regarded as a magnificent theatrical piece for singers, players and performers, Bernstein’s MASS was first commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in memory of her late husband and the famous American president. It premiered in 1971 for the opening of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dean and Principal, Dr Karl Kramer, said: “Bernstein’s MASS is a masterpiece of the last century that lends itself to showcasing the enormous breadth of talented musicians that the Con produces.

“It is going to be a spectacular vision and sound when our symphony orchestra, jazz and blues ensembles, opera singers and choirs all take to the stage at the one time.

“2015 is going to be a momentous year for the Con and a wonderful opportunity for the Australian public to join us in celebrating an important part of Sydney’s cultural and music history,” said Dr Kramer.

The New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, as it was first known, opened its doors under the leadership of a European director and violinist Henri Verbrugghen on 6 May 1915. Its mandate was to ‘provide tuition of a standard equal to that of the leading European conservatoriums’. A century on, Dr Karl Kramer says that the Con remains true to the vision of its founders.

“Much has evolved in the Australian and international music scene over the last 100 years, and the Con has played a pivotal role in nurturing the best teachers, composers, singers, orchestral and jazz musicians this country has seen.

“But what remains unchanged is the standard to which our highly skilled staff and students work to create and perform great music. The bar has always been set very high and, as such, our teachers and students are among the best in the world. We will celebrate and show this in 2015 through special events including Bernstein’s MASS at the Sydney Opera House in May,” said Dr Karl Kramer.

It was in 1901 that the seed was first sown for a prestigious music school in Sydney. A private venture called ‘the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’ was set up and led by composer, critic and city organist William H Wale, with several distinguished patrons including the newly-elected Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Dr James Graham, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Sir Arthur Renwick. Several decades later, the Con would become the Music Faculty for the University of Sydney.

The decision at the beginning of the last century to convert the old Government House stables into a music school was not without its politics. Some Sydney-siders wanted the horse stables turned into a restaurant – a dispute that became known as the ‘battle between the sausage and sonata’. Then in 1912 Campbell Carmichael, Minister of Public Instruction and an impressive reformer who had reformed the University of Sydney’s governance – rallied the support needed to overcome considerable opposition.

Today ‘the Con’, as it is affectionately known, is home to the Conservatorium High School, Open Academy and Music Faculty of the University of Sydney, where approximately 2500 students receive specialist music training each year.

Tickets for the Bernstein MASS on 6 May 2015 at the Sydney Opera House will go on general sale from 18 December 2014 at music.sydney.edu.au/events/centenary-bernstein-mass-06-05-2015 The full centenary program of events, Con history, and birthday messages by musicians, alumni and others can be found here.

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Professor Linda Barwick elected to prestigious Fellowship http://music.sydney.edu.au/professor-linda-barwick-fellowship/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/professor-linda-barwick-fellowship/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 05:50:32 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3906 Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Associate Dean (Research), Professor Linda Barwick, has been elected to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, one of the highest honours available for achievement in the humanities in Australia. The Fellowship of the Academy comprises … Continue reading

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Professor Linda Barwick

Professor Linda Barwick, Associate Dean (Research)

Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Associate Dean (Research), Professor Linda Barwick, has been elected to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, one of the highest honours available for achievement in the humanities in Australia.

The Fellowship of the Academy comprises more than 500 distinguished individuals elected by their peers in recognition of the excellence and impact of their scholarship in fields including archaeology, art, Asian and European studies, classical and modern literature, cultural and communication studies, languages and linguistics, philosophy, musicology, history and religion.

The Academy embraces new and emerging fields in the humanities. It also promotes the crucial role of the humanities in interdisciplinary collaboration, for the key challenges and opportunities facing Australia in the twenty-first century are not merely technical or economic in nature, but are deeply embedded in our society and culture.

The Australian Academy of the Humanities is one of the four Learned Academies in Australia.

More details on the Fellowship can be found here: http://www.humanities.org.au/Fellowship/NewFellows.aspx

 

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London Symphony Orchestra visits the Sydney Con http://music.sydney.edu.au/london-symphony-orchestra/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/london-symphony-orchestra/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:17:49 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3890 The Sydney Opera House in association with the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music have chosen to take the exciting visit from the London Symphony Orchestra and use these talented professional musicians to drive an educational program involving students form … Continue reading

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Sydney Opera House and Sydney Conservatorium of Music are hosting the London Symphony Orchestra in an educational project on 27 November 2014.

The Sydney Opera House in association with the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music have chosen to take the exciting visit from the London Symphony Orchestra and use these talented professional musicians to drive an educational program involving students form regional Conservatoriums all over New South Wales. This program is split into two sections, MAKE and PLAY, which will culminate in a by-invitation performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music  on Thursday 27 November.

MAKE
The Make project is an opportunity for 30 instrumental participants to explore their creativity through a series of workshops. The process will be led by the participants, supported by animateur Paul Rissmann with 3 LSO musicians and 3 Sydney Conservatorium of Music tertiary students.

Exploring story and musical elements from Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, the young people will devise un-notated music to express the story of Petrouchka, which will be narrated by Paul Rissmann. All musical material will be based on input from the young people (not the adults or buddies).

In the final performance the participants will be joined on stage by members of the LSO, who will play fragments of the Stravinsky score to frame the devised episodes.

The buddies are people who have a real interest in finding out about this kind of work with young musicians. As this is a performance project we would like them to participate as instrumentalists too. We hope they will learn through observation, and also help facilitate the process described.

PLAY:
Play is a program that runs for four days where up to 90 regional Conservatorium students participate in an orchestral workshop where they will prepare 3 pieces for a performance this Thursday afternoon. These three works are abridged versions of:

Prokofiev – Suite from Lieutenant of Kije
Elgar – The Enigma Variations
Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

The four day workshop conducted by Alexander Briger complete with sectionals and full rehearsals with various LSO players and 5 Sydney Conservatorium of Music tertiary students, will allow the Regional students to perform in a large orchestra of a high standard, opportunities that may not necessarily be available to them in their home town.

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Streicher piano strikes an historical chord for the Conservatorium http://music.sydney.edu.au/new-old-streicher-piano-strikes-historical-chord-conservatorium/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/new-old-streicher-piano-strikes-historical-chord-conservatorium/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:05:55 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3824 In 1870 the famous Viennese piano making firm J.B. Streicher and Sons gave Johannes Brahms a piano that was made in 1868. Brahms kept this piano in his apartment in Vienna for the rest of his life and used it … Continue reading

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Associate Professor Neal Peres da Costa with the replica Viennese-action grand piano (1868) after J.B. Streicher and Sons made by Paul McNulty (2014)

In 1870 the famous Viennese piano making firm J.B. Streicher and Sons gave Johannes Brahms a piano that was made in 1868. Brahms kept this piano in his apartment in Vienna for the rest of his life and used it to compose and to play on in private. In a letter to Clara Schumann Brahms explained: “It is quite a different matter to write for instruments whose characteristics and sound one only incidentally has in one’s head and which one can only hear mentally, than to write for an instrument which one knows through and through, as I know this piano. There I always know exactly what I write and why I write one way or another.”

J.B. Streicher came from a very eminent line of piano builders. His mother was Nannette Streicher (née Stein) who made pianos for many early nineteenth-century pianist-composers. Her father Johann Andreas Stein was among the first to produce successful five-octave Viennese fortepianos, the sort that had so impressed Mozart.

Streicher’s instruments retained the qualities of the earlier Viennese-models. Brahms’s Streicher piano was a straight-strung wooden framed piano with leather (rather than felt) covered hammers which produced a warm, clear tone throughout its 7-octave range. It was characterised by distinct registers in the treble, middle and bass – very much like the earlier Viennese models.

Associate Professor Neal Peres Da Costa (Chair of the SCM’s Historical Performance Unit) commissioned the replica of this instrument from Paul McNulty, whose workshop in Diviŝov near Prague in the Czech Republic. Diviŝov is near an old forest that provides him with very suitable wood for piano building. Paul is one of few world-leading makers of historical pianos and a brilliant craftsmen.

“This is a world first, as far as we know, and no other maker has attempted to copy such a late instrument. Because of its construction style it has a unique sound scape ideally suited to the music of Brahms and many other late-ninteenth century German composers. Its tonal characteristics help make sense of the markings in his music and his textures.”

More information, video and photos can be found in Streicher 1868 photo album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcnultymusic/sets/72157648227037786/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT4ur2RyNSQ

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Ebbs and Flows of Dragons’ Dreams http://music.sydney.edu.au/ebbs-flows-dragons-dreams/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/ebbs-flows-dragons-dreams/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 02:20:31 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3802 A review from PhD student Peter Stone of our recent concert featuring the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra and Mike Nock on 27 October 2014. http://music.sydney.edu.au/events/greenway-series-conservatorium-jazz-orchestra-play-the-music-of-mike-nock-27-10-2014 Storytelling is a distinct art form that Mike Nock embraces with profound elegance. Mike’s painted tablet … Continue reading

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A review from Mike-Nock_suit-300PhD student Peter Stone of our recent concert featuring the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Orchestra and Mike Nock on 27 October 2014.

http://music.sydney.edu.au/events/greenway-series-conservatorium-jazz-orchestra-play-the-music-of-mike-nock-27-10-2014

Storytelling is a distinct art form that Mike Nock embraces with profound elegance. Mike’s painted tablet of life and musical insights infuse his life and work with a uniquely dedicated power. There is in Mike’s work a sense of anticipation and mystery. A sense that we are being taken on a journey to the unknown. Yet always there is an implied and inherent underlay of more and yet more.

Mike’s big band concert, directed by David Theak, in the Music Workshop of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on 27 October excelled in this domain. Original works with eloquent titles drew us all into the phantasmagoria of the Bard at work. As the evening unfolded our own musical empathy embraced the patinas and palettes that reflected the big band genre, yet held to the inner truths of Mike’s own sensibilities, his creative musical genius and aspirations.

There were fragments and shades of Lalo Schrifrin, Kenton, Dorsey, Heath, Ellington and Herman. Yet never was there a hint that there was a ‘pastiche stylism’ at work. Originality was the breathe of life of the whole concert. Mike reaches deeply into his own musical soul and this has been portrayed time and time again with his continuum of creative aspiration and fervour.

The concert opened with an enigmatic Blues For…. This work opened up corridors of incisive blues elegance swinging with a pulsating depth. Mike’s own blues piano was anchored by Hampton Hawes style chords in the left hand then developing into blues riffs adding luscious articulated single notes. Trumpet work from that section gave crisply defined statements of structural underlays. There were also some bebop references as the work unfolded. The form of the work always being strengthened by the excellent percussion, bass and guitar.

Outstanding jazz writing characterised the whole evening with a broad range of fascinating titles: Isospin, Doors, Hadrian’s Wall, Floating Cloud, Flowing Water, Nata Lagal, and Earthbound.

The wonderful palette that unfolded as the evening concert continued was demonstrated by rich storytelling in chordal colouring that exemplified the aims in the titles.

In Doors for example our minds were taken down medieval style pathways with haunting insights. There was a great sense of the deeper story being told. An inspiring alto solo too gave textural omnipresent power to the whole work.

In Floating Cloud and Flowing Water a guitar solo by Felix Lelanne added finesse as the thoughtfulness of the piece unfolded. The tonality of the guitar echoed that of the great Billy Bauer. The deeper sonority of the baritone sax solo completed the sense of the poetic landscape in Mike’s panoramic artistry.

In Nata Lagal the magic and mystery of the power of the musical genre was given great power in the writing as the whole band seemed to understand the imaginary story being grasped in our minds. Lennie Tristano style phrasing set a haunting underlay with a certain elusiveness. The whole work exploding with exacting shapes and colourful powers.

Mike’s ideas released night’s shapes and shadows, through his composition Hadrian’s Wall with dragon caves, birds with many wings, giant causeways of giant treads.  The evening provoked the power of stunning creativity tempting the mind’s aural eyes.
It was the poetic power of Mike excelling and maintaining the jazz genre idiom and fever that ended up a giving us a desire to be taken through more imaginary musical caverns and corridors of this kind.

The Mike Nock directed band was made up by students from the Con. Their excellence never faulted. They were at one with the Mike Nock compositions. The soloists were;

Felix Lalenne, Guitar Michael Avgenicos, tenor sax, Evan Atwell–Harris, alto sax, Nishchal Manjunath, tenor sax, Greg Chilcott, trombone, Ollie Nelson, drums, James Hazelwood–Dale, double bass, Luke Stephens, trumpet Will Endicott, trumpet.

All the soloists showed superb understanding of the works and reflected this cognisance in their creative expositions of the jazz genre that Mike set out to establish in his very original compositions.

Peter Stone
PhD student

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Brahms specialist awarded 2014 Geiringer Scholarship http://music.sydney.edu.au/brahms-specialist-awarded-2014-geiringer-scholarship/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/brahms-specialist-awarded-2014-geiringer-scholarship/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 05:03:37 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3734 We are very pleased to announce that the Karl Geiringer Scholarship in Brahms Studies for 2014 has been awarded to Robin Wilson, recent PhD graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, in recognition of his dissertation, “Style and Interpretation in … Continue reading

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Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson Photo: Pia Johnson

We are very pleased to announce that the Karl Geiringer Scholarship in Brahms Studies for 2014 has been awarded to Robin Wilson, recent PhD graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, in recognition of his dissertation, “Style and Interpretation in the Nineteenth-Century German Violin School with Particular Reference to the Three Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin by Johannes Brahms.” Robin was supervised by Associate Professor Neal Peres da Costa, Chair of the Conservatorium’s Historical Performance Unit.

Wilsons work focuses on the violinists in Brahmss circle, Joseph Joachim and his students Marie Soldat-Roeger and Leopold Auer, and examines aspects of performance including vibrato, bowing, portamento, articulation, tempo, and rhythmic flexibility. The scholarship committee was particularly impressed by Wilsons sensitive and careful use of spectrogram analysis in conjunction with contemporaneous treatises, letters, reminiscences, and annotated editions, and by the rigor and originality of his work.

Established in 1990 to honour the dedication of the late Karl Geiringer to graduate education and to build upon his legacy to Brahms research, the Karl Geiringer Fund in Brahms Studies is awarded annually as meritorious candidates present themselves. The competition is open to students internationally. Only those projects that demonstrate significant original thought and research are considered competitive. The decision on awarding the fund rests with the Board of Directors of the American Brahms Society.  The Board of Directors consists of leading scholars from prestigious universities such as Yale, Colombia, Stony Brook and Washington.

Robin has been invited to attend the American Musicological Society annual meeting to convene with the Board of Directors.

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New fellowship to honour Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE http://music.sydney.edu.au/new-fellowship-honour-peter-sculthorpe/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/new-fellowship-honour-peter-sculthorpe/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 00:15:21 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3695 A new Fellowship was announced at the special concert on Saturday night at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to honour the contribution of the late Australian composer and Emeritus Professor of the University of Sydney, Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE, to Australia’s … Continue reading

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Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE

William Barton, didgeridoo, Maestro Eduardo Diazmunoz and the SCM Symphony Orchestra Photo: Bill Green

A new Fellowship was announced at the special concert on Saturday night at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to honour the contribution of the late Australian composer and Emeritus Professor of the University of Sydney, Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE, to Australia’s musical heritage.

The Hon. Trevor Khan, representing Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts, Troy Grant, said the $30,000 Sculthorpe Fellowship will be offered by the NSW Government and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney every second year beginning in 2015.

“Peter Sculthorpe is internationally-renowned and widely acknowledged as Australia’s most significant composer and his passing this year was felt by those who worked with him and enjoyed his music,” Mr Grant said.

“The Fellowship will support the professional development of an emerging NSW-based composer or performer dedicated to producing new Australian music.

“The NSW Government will fund the Fellowship in line with its commitment to support the professional development of artists across NSW,” Mr Grant said.

“The Conservatorium is honoured to continue the legacy of Peter’s composition and support for new Australian music with the announcement of this new Fellowship,” said Dr Karl Kramer, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

“Peter was a passionate Australian and a renowned teacher whose contribution to the development of Australian music is immense. It is appropriate that this legacy is recognised through the establishment of a new fellowship in his name for an emerging artist. He would have been delighted and honoured,” said Anne Boyd, on behalf of the Peter Sculthorpe Trustees.

A committee will be established comprising representatives from the Sculthorpe Trustees, the NSW Government and the University of Sydney to administer the Fellowship.

Further details on the Sculthorpe Fellowship will be made available early in 2015.

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A trio of gifts to cultivate musicians for world stage http://music.sydney.edu.au/trio-gifts-cultivate-musicians-world-stage/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/trio-gifts-cultivate-musicians-world-stage/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 23:59:49 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3635   The University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music announces three major philanthropic gifts, which will see the creation of a string quartet development program and two new annual conducting and piano scholarships, offered to the Con’s brightest tertiary students from … Continue reading

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Gerald Westheimer AM and Associate Professor Alice Waten with the 1858 Gustave Bernadel, part of the Westheimer instrument collection held by the Con.

Gerald Westheimer AM and Associate Professor Alice Waten with the 1858 Gustave Bernadel, part of the Westheimer instrument collection held by the Con.

The University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music announces three major philanthropic gifts, which will see the creation of a string quartet development program and two new annual conducting and piano scholarships, offered to the Con’s brightest tertiary students from 2015 in perpetuity.

The gifts come from three alumni of the University of Sydney: an Australian vision scientist and passionate violinist Gerald Westheimer AM; the family of the formidable international conductor Helen Quach; and Australian film and stage producer Brian Abel.

Professor Karl Kramer, Dean and Principal of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music said: “We’re privileged to have received these generous gifts that will make a real difference to the experience we can offer some of the most talented students who wish to study with us.

“It’s the passion of our donors that helps to fine tune our vision, so that we continue to provide the training that develops top-class musicians for the world stage.

“It’s been wonderful to work with the three donors to develop new programs and scholarships that fulfill their music interests, and continue the Con’s long tradition of providing a music education like no other in this region.”

German-born Gerald Westheimer, who now lives and works in the US, is an accomplished recreational violinist.  Westheimer and his family emigrated from Nazi-occupied Germany to Australia in 1938.  Settling in Sydney, Gerald finished high school and vocational studies in optometry at Sydney Technical College, before attending and graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor in Science in 1948.

“I began playing the violin as a boy growing up in a middle-class, German Jewish family in Berlin in the 1930s. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that I started studying it more seriously at the Conservatorium with Haydn Beck who was, at one time, the concertmaster of the ABC Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

“Walking up Macquarie Street to the Con, carrying my violin for my lessons with Haydn Beck in one of the turrets, is still a vivid memory of that period of my life.

“I have remained a sturdy amateur violinist for nearly 80 years now, and make the point of getting at least half-an-hour of practice a day, through thick and thin, playing almost exclusively chamber music.

“The string quartet is an enduring music ensemble. Therefore, when Dean Kramer and I talked about possible ways of playing a part in the Con’s development and an endowed string quartet program was suggested, it seemed an obvious fit,” said Gerald Westheimer.

The Gerald Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship, a performance development program, will give four string players added training opportunities including masterclasses, competitions and overseas travel to music festivals whilst studying at the Con. The program also gives the quartet access to a collection of the best string instruments, made by the Italian maestro of violin makers Sandro Asinari.

Helen Quach, a Chinese migrant from Vietnam who arrived in Sydney in 1950 during the White Australia Policy era, overcame many challenges during her rise to fame as a highly-acclaimed conductor of several world-leading symphony orchestras.

She had studied and graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music aged only 19 years old. Then in 1959 she won an Australian Broadcasting Commission scholarship as an apprentice to Nicolai Malko, the resident conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. A year later Quach made her debut as an SSO conductor aged 20.

Quach went onto conduct many prestigious orchestras in the USA, including one of the world’s best, the New York Philharmonic, assisting the great Leonard Bernstein for a year in 1968. During the late 1970s and early 80s, she spent much of her time in Asia, working with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Manila and Taiwan Symphony Orchestras.

Following a long fight with breast cancer, Quach passed away last year.  Her brother Peter Quach and his family wanted to set up the Helen Quach Conducting Scholarship, to give student musicians the support that he knew Helen would have longed for at the outset of her career.

Helen was totally dedicated to her music, as she embarked on a profession that was male dominated. She didn’t have any support – she did it alone, achieving everything through hard work, great determination and a lot of talent.

“She never married, so music was her life. She had the ability to inspire musicians to perform to their best – it didn’t matter whether they were professional or amateur orchestras.

“It’s a shame Australia never really benefited from her talent, since she spent her entire career overseas, but now young Australian talent will gain from this scholarship in memory of her,” said Peter Quach.

After living in London and New York for the last thirteen years, Brian Abel recently returned to Sydney.  Growing up in Townsville in the 1970s, Brian Abel undertook AMEB and Trinity College piano exams, but there was no opportunity to study music at a university level.  So as a mature-aged student, Abel completed a bachelor degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1992, studying piano under Albert Landa.

The new Brian Abel Piano Scholarship reaches out to financially-disadvantaged students to help with tuition fees and living expenses whilst studying music.

“I was fortunate to be able to study at the Con, where I really developed a love of western art music and more confidence as a musician.  Talented students shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities just because they can’t afford to move to the city to study. This is why I have initiated this scholarship,” said Brian Abel.

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Sydney opera premiere of Little Women http://music.sydney.edu.au/sydney-opera-premiere-little-women/ http://music.sydney.edu.au/sydney-opera-premiere-little-women/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 04:48:20 +0000 http://music.sydney.edu.au/?p=3596 Mark Adamo’s operatic adaption of the much-loved classic tale of Little Women premieres in Sydney this October at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. With several cast members graduating from the Con at the end of this year, the … Continue reading

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Little Women starring Con students Audrey Gabor (Beth), Anna McDougall (Jo), Jessica Westcott (Meg) and Bridget Patterson (Amy). Photo: Ian Brown.

Little Women starring Con students Audrey Gabor (Beth), Anna McDougall (Jo), Jessica Westcott (Meg) and Bridget Patterson (Amy). Photo: Ian Brown.

Mark Adamo’s operatic adaption of the much-loved classic tale of Little Women premieres in Sydney this October at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. With several cast members graduating from the Con at the end of this year, the Sydney premiere of Little Women promises to be a launching pad for the next crop of Australian opera stars.

Since its world premiere in New York in 1998, Little Women has become one of the top ten operas in the US, with more than 70 productions performed world-wide. With the first of four performances kicking off at the Con on 11 October, Sydney audiences will be treated to Adamo’s lush, tonal and searing score and imaginative libretto, which provides an engaging frame for this seminal American tale.

Dr Michael Halliwell, Associate Professor of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music said: “There’s been a recent boom in new operas and much of it has its source in the American literary canon. One of the most successful operas has been Mark Adamo’s operatic version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

“Adamo is part of a youngish generation of American composers who have opera at the centre of their musical output, and have an obviously passionate love of the operatic voice. These composers have returned to many of the traditional structures of opera, and while they draw on the gestures of musical modernism, the fundamental element of their operas is melody. One can actually come out of a performance of Little Women, like many other contemporary operas, whistling the tunes. This has a lot to do with a growing fusion between musical theatre and opera.

“Suffice to say, Sydney is in for a treat and there will most certainly be a few furtive tears at the end of this heart-warming and life-affirming opera,” said Dr Michael Halliwell.

Based on Alcott’s 1868 novel, Little Women traces the close and enduring relationships between four sisters coming-of-age, as they grow up during the post-Civil War years in Massachusetts, USA. The contemporary opera brings to life the characters of Meg, Amy, Beth and the indefatigable Jo, as they encounter the complexities of family, friendship and romance. Jo’s devotion to her sisters and reluctance to accept change are challenged by Beth’s illness. Forced to face the inevitability of adulthood and the responsibilities it brings, Jo realises that even the strongest love cannot ward off change and loss.

The Con production opens around Christmas time during the American Civil War of the early 1860s. From the first to the very last musical note, the moving family tale sees the characters cross from childhood and young adulthood, spanning a period of three years.

Starring in the two lead roles are Anna McDougall, who plays Jo, the second eldest, headstrong sister and a ‘tomboy’ who her father refers to as his ‘son Jo’; and Alexander Knight, who plays John Brooke, the young, hard-working orphan man who falls for Jo’s sister Meg.

Mezzo-soprano Anna McDougall and baritone Alexander Knight are among ten vocal students in the cast who will complete their tertiary studies at Con in 2014. They, along with cast members and 2014 graduates Corinne Parker, Audrey Gabor, Bridget Patterson, Kathryn Williams Jermaine Chau, Joel Scott, Daniel Tambasco and Andrew Williams, will be the future opera stars to watch.

Musical Director Eduardo Diazmuñoz and Director Narelle Yeo, along with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Chamber Orchestra, will headline the Sydney opera premiere of Little Women.

The first Australian opera performance of Little Women was held at the Adelaide Festival in 2007, followed by the 2013 production at the West Australian Academy for the Performing Arts in Perth.

Event details
What: Little Women by Mark Adamo
When: Sat 11, Tues 14, Thurs 16, Sat 18 October (6.30pm for the first 3 performances; and 2pm matinee for the final performance)
Where: Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Cost: $50 adult, $25 student and concession
Bookings: Buy tickets online or purchase from City Recital Hall, Angel Place, (02) 8256 2222

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