‘About Music’ Lecture Series

Each week of semester, our new public lecture series “About Music” will feature a new angle on the endlessly fascinating phenomenon of human musicality.

Venue: Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Macquarie St, Sydney
Free entry, no bookings required. Complimentary refreshments after the lecture.
Enquiries to: Series Coordinator, Susie Walsh: susie.walsh@sydney.edu.au; phone +612 9351 1442.

Semester 2, 2014

Damien Ricketson (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
4 August, 5pm

The Secret Noise
Not all music was made for public consumption. Discover an arcane world of cultural practices that deliberately shield music from public life and learn how they inform a new creative project by composer Damien Ricketson.

The lecture will feature a brief performance by Claire Edwardes on vibraphone.
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About Damien Ricketson
Described by the Sydney Morning Herald as displaying “a reputation for intelligent and inventive music-making”, Damien Ricketson’s music is characterised by exotic sound-worlds and novel forms. Damien studied with renowned Dutch composer Louis Andriessen and is currently a Lecturer in composition at the Sydney Conservatorium. Damien is the Co-Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring, a unique arts organisation dedicated to innovative new music, and through whom much of his music has been performed. Notable recent projects have included Fractured Again, a multimedia production featured in the Sydney Festival and toured to China including musical instruments made of glass and The Secret Noise, an upcoming music-dance work exploring music and secrecy.


Jeanell Carrigan (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
11 August, 5pm

Composer in Exile: Meta Overman and her compositions for piano
Dutch-born Meta Overman (1907-1993) lived in Australia for over forty years, spent mostly in Perth and Melbourne. Her unpublished piano music is imaginative and formally structured, probably reflecting her lessons with Willem Pijper, one of Holland’s foremost composition teachers of the 1940s.
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About Jeanell Carrigan
Jeanell is currently Senior Lecturer in Ensemble Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. She has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and throughout Australia, and has recorded for the Bavarian Radio Corporation, the ABC and for regional stations in Australia on many occasions. As a member of the Novalis Quartet, Trio Novalis and Richter/Carrigan Duo she performs regularly for Musica Viva and other concert organisations.
She completed a Doctor of Creative Arts, from the University of Wollongong, in the area of Australian post-1970 solo piano repertoire and in February 2014 released her sixteenth solo compact disc of Australian piano music. In 2002 she received the national award of most outstanding contribution to the advancement of Australian music by an individual.


Speaker TBA
18 August, 5pm


Chris Coady (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
25 August, 5pm
(followed by Jazz in the Cafe)
Decoding the Political Mingus: An exploration of what is, and what is not, political jazz
This talk will challenge the idea that jazz bassist/composer Charles Mingus’ “political” music is limited to the works he wrote as part of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s by illuminating the political work achieved through his oft-forgotten classical/jazz fusion works of the mid-1950s.
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About Chris Coady
Dr Coady is a lecturer in Musicology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He is the author of several scholarly articles the could be grouped loosely under the heading “jazz and politics” and is currently working on a book aimed at reassessing the legacy of John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet, titled John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music.


James Wierzbicki (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
8 September, 5pm

Film music: when to listen
Film music, like film sound, of course plays an important role in how we experience movies. But sometimes the film/sound is not nearly so important as we might think. Sometimes it really *should* go in one ear and out the other.
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About James Wierzbicki
James Wierzbicki is a Senior Lecturer in musicology at the University of Sydney. Along with exploring questions of modernity and the postmodern, his research focuses on twentieth-century music in general and film music in particular. His books include a monograph on the electronic score for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet (Scarecrow Press, 2005), Film Music: A History (Routledge, 2009), and Elliott Carter (University of Illinois Press, 2011); articles by him have recently appeared in such publications as the Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Musical Quarterly, Perspectives of New Music, Beethoven Forum, and Music and the Moving Image.


Catherine Stevens (The MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney)
15 September, 5pm

Musical Memories:
How Experience and Expectations Affect Music Perception

Even without formal training in music, humans develop expectations for the conventions of the musical environment in which they are raised. The influence of this “mere exposure” on responding to rhythmic patterns will be discussed, together with the effect of language background on perceiving speech and music. The experiments demonstrate that long-term memory affects the way music is perceived.
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About Catherine Stevens
Catherine (Kate) Stevens is Professor in Psychology and leader of the Music Cognition and Action research program in the MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney (UWS). She holds BA (Hons) and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney. Kate conducts basic research into the learning and recognition of complex sequential, non-verbal patterns using the familiar and universal contexts of music and dance. She is author of more than 170 articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings papers, among them an ebook on creativity and cognition in contemporary dance.


Amanda Harris (PARADISEC, Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
22 September, 5pm

European women composers, 1880-1930
For European women composers at the turn of the twentieth century, getting their works performed was one thing, being considered a composer historically important enough to be remembered was quite another. Focusing on England, France and Germany in the period 1880 to 1930, I will illustrate the different approaches to their composition taken by women composers such as Ethel Smyth, Lili Boulanger and Luise Adolpha Le Beau.
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About Amanda Harris
Amanda Harris’s 2009 PhD from the University of New South Wales focused on German, French and English women composers and feminism in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. In particular she found that there was an ambivalent relationship between female composers and feminists who were slow to recognise each other’s pursuits. Her recent work focuses on Australian History, exploring themes of cross-cultural exchange and gender and her edited book Circulating Cultures: Exchanges of Australian Indigenous Music, Dance and Media is due out with ANU Press in 2014. Amanda is currently a Research Associate on the project Intercultural inquiry in a trans-national context: Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 American- Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land.


Presenter to be advised.
13 October, 5pm

Topic to be advised.


Charles Fairchild (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
20 October, 5pm

Music, Incorporated: The Grey Album in a Post-Album World
In 2004, DJ Danger Mouse released one of the most famous mash-up albums ever. But The Grey Album (DJ Dangermouse, 2004) is more than just a clever, if legally ambiguous, amalgam of previously-existing music. It is also an important and compelling album that can tell us a lot about both our musical past and future.
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About Charles Fairchild
Charles Fairchild is Associate Professor of Popular Music at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is the author of The Grey Album by DJ Danger Mouse (Bloomsbury, 2014), Music, Radio and the Public Sphere (Palgrave, 2012) and Pop Idols and Pirates (Ashgate, 2008).


Kerry Murphy (University of Melbourne)
27 October, 5pm

Henri Kowalski¹s comings and goings
French virtuoso pianist and composer Henri Kowalski (1841-1916) visited Australia twice, once in 1880 and from 1885, he settled in Sydney for 14 years. This paper explores the impact of his visits to Australia focusing in particular on his Sydney sejour.
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About Kerry Murphy
Kerry Murphy is head of musicology at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. Her research interests focus chiefly on 19th-century French music and music criticism and colonial Australian music history and she has published widely in these areas. She is currently researching the impact of travelling virtuosi to Australia and the representation of Algeria in French 19th-century vocal works.


Semester 1, 2014

Sergio Durante (University of Padua, Italy)
17 March, 5.30pm

Verdi: visions and revisions of Risorgimento music”
The contribution of Giuseppe Verdi’s music to the cause of Italian Risorgimento and to the unification process of the country (ca. 1848-1870) has been in the past two decades a matter of controversy among music historians. Some believe in fact that the traditional image of Verdi as ‘bard’ of Risorgimento is but a late ideological construction. The terms of the problem are re-examined against the background of the broader soundscape of the revolutionary years in Italy, including rare relics of popular music.
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About Sergio Durante
Sergio Durante (Padua 1954), has studied music and musicology in Bologna and Cambridge (Mass.) . He has published extensively on the history of singers and of the singing profession, developing among other things a historical dictionary of Italian vocal terminology (Lessico italiano del canto) of imminent publication online. After his earlier research on Frescobaldi, Corelli and Tartini, he turned his main focus on Mozart studies with numerous essays devoted to vocal music, opera, oratorio and theory of dramaturgy and music analysis. Since 2000 he is a member of the Mozart Akademie in Salzburg. Since 2012 member of the Directorium of the International musicological society. He is Professor of music philology at the University of Padua.


Steven Lubin (Purchase College, USA)
24 March, 5.30pm

European Music, 1680-1900: Mirror of a Changing Cosmos
(in association with the Hook Lecture Series)

In this lecture, Mr. Lubin describes, with the help of piano performances and various visual aids, how reality shifts within this overall era, owing partly to vicissitudes in the flux of historical events generally and partly to changes in science, philosophy and art, the mutually interdependent human activities that accumulate for us empirical knowledge over time.
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About Steven Lubin
In the past few seasons, pianist Steven Lubin has performed as concerto soloist or recitalist in England, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Ukraine, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and all across North America. He has appeared as soloist in many of the world’s great concert halls (Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, Barbican Center, Kennedy Center, Davies, Herbst, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Wigmore, Queen Elizabeth, St. John’s Smith Square, Myerson, Ambassador, Ordway, Severance, El Auditorio de Zaragoza, etc.), and in major international festivals (Lufthansa, South Bank, Regensburg, Colmar, Utrecht, La Roque d’Anthéron, Aranjuez, Ravinia, Espoo, Mostly Mozart, Mainly Mozart, etc.). He has performed with the National Symphony, the Odessa Philharmonic, the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, the St. Paul and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music of London, the Wiener Akademie, Il Fondamento, and many others. He has recorded twenty CDs, mostly for major labels, and has received critical approbation worldwide for his artistry, musical originality and technical excellence.


Michael Webb (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
31 March, 5.30pm

“Slave Songs” in the Southwest Pacific: early globalisation of song
From the 1870s, two song repertoires began circling the globe: African American spirituals, and revivalist gospel songs. These songs made their way to tiny, remote islands in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), and over decades were reformulated into unique folk entertainment forms that are now under threat of extinction. How and why should they be revived?
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About Michael Webb
Michael Webb is an ethnomusicologist, and Chair of Music Education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Michael studied ethnomusicology at the Sydney Conservatorium and later completed an MA and PhD dissertation at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He is a co-author of Music in Pacific Island Cultures (OUP, 2011) and is currently completing a book titled Sounds of Volcano Town: Music, Magic and Modernity in a Papua New Guinea Port, 1875-1975. Michael has collaborated on an ethnomusicological film, Circling Around in Song, based on his research in Vanuatu, which will be released in 2014. His Melanesian research concentrates on music history and change, and focuses particularly on historical and contemporary aspects of Christian hymnody and folk choral expressions.


Marina Robinson (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
7 April, 5.30pm

Proprioception and Violin Pedagogy
Proprioception is the knowledge of where body segments are in space, providing non-visual information about the exact positioning of joints and limbs, thus is a very important part of instrumental pedagogy, or the acquisition of any motor skill. This lecture will explore the role of proprioception in violin pedagogy and will provide insights from a multidisciplinary perspective.
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About Marina Robinson
Before joining the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2008, Dr Marina Robinson was the head of classical performance and Young AIMS at the Australian Institute of Music from 2005 to 2008. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Western Australia and a doctorate from the University of Tasmania. For six years Marina was a lecturer in violin at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, an institution highly regarded for its outstanding contribution to Australian string pedagogy and performance. In Tasmania, she was also the coordinator of classical music and director of the Young Conservatorium and Winter String Schools. Marina was the Associate Concert-Master of Sydney-based Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, with which she performed as a soloist and toured nationally and internationally for thirteen years.


Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs (Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs, The Stiff Gins, Sydney)
14 April, 5.30pm

Reviving and re-interpreting the art of wax cylinder recording
When Stiff Gins embarked on their new recording project, little did they know the path it would take. It led them to Fanny Cochrane Smith, the first Aboriginal woman ever to record language and song on wax cylinder. Listen to an amazing story that spans centuries and songlines to ultimately connect 3 Aboriginal women in song.
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About The Stiff Gins
Stiff Gins, now enter their fifteenth year, are well established as one of Australia’s best known and most loved Indigenous acts. In their new project, Spirit of Things: Sound of Objects, the duo explores the residual and embedded songs and stories held by the ‘made objects’ of Aboriginal cultural material. The writing of this material led them to the recordings of Fanny Cochrane Smith and through a partnership with the National Film and Sound archive in Canberra become the 1st group to record onto wax cylinder in eighty years. Stiff Gins, like Fanny Cochrane Smith use song, culture, technology and time to draw links to the past while creating a unique future for Aboriginal cultural expression.


Graeme Skinner (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
28 April, 5.30pm

Uncovering the foundations: the colonial pre-history of the Sydney Conservatorium
Next year, the Conservatorium celebrates its first centenary. When the foundations of its heritage building were excavated in the 1990s, physical archaeological remains dating back another century were uncovered. But what of the Conservatorium’s musical foundations? Can excavation also reveal remains of Sydney’s lively colonial musical past? Today, we’ll undertake a little bit of musical archaeology…
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About Graeme Skinner
Dr. Graeme Skinner is an honorary associate in the Conservatorium’s Musicology Unit. He is author of the biography Peter Sculthorpe: the making of an Australian composer, and curator of Australharmony, a website in which he presents his ground-breaking research-in-progress toward a musical history of Australia’s colonial and early Federation eras. He has also published scholarly book chapters and journal articles on the history of sacred liturgical music, plainsong and polyphony, preserved in the choirbooks of Toledo Cathedral in Spain.


Ivan Zavada (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
5 May, 5.30pm

Visual Music
Visual music, as a unified form of expression, may reveal the way in which humans interpret, organise, categorise, prioritise, and process information through multimedia applications. An in-depth understanding of the creative processes involved in visual music will lead researchers to appreciate artistic discourse as a foundational social phenomenon throughout its entire range, in each and every one of its elements from the sound and image to the furthest reaches of abstract meaning; enhancing expressive content, conveying human emotion, thereby heightening and enriching the spectator’s immersive experience.
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About Ivan Zavada
Ivan Zavada is a composer, multimedia programmer and designer. His research focus is the interactive relationship between image and sound within the realm of electroacoustic music. He creates innovative multi-sensorial events that incorporate sophisticated audiovisual techniques to express artistic individuality in the digital era. In general, Ivan’s work questions the conceptual nature of music by examining the relationship between concrete sounds on a fixed recorded medium and visual elements of abstraction rendered in computer graphics. The combination of sound and image in multiple layers challenges the medium’s representational paradigm with the use of state-of-the-art technology and makes electroacoustic composition and multimedia applications particularly interesting and significant.


Kathy Marsh (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
19 May, 5.30pm

Music and wellbeing in the lives of children and young people
This lecture will explore the role of music in the lives of children and young people, with particular reference to refugee and immigrant children. It will discuss the importance of music in developing forms of communication, a sense of belonging and empowerment, and in contributing to cultural maintenance, identity construction, emotional release and social integration.
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About Kathy Marsh
Kathryn Marsh is Associate Professor of Music Education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. Her research interests include children’s musical play, children’s creativity, and cultural diversity in music education, most recently exploring the role of music in the lives of refugee children. She is editor of Research Studies in Music Education and has written numerous scholarly and professional publications, including her recent book, The Musical Playground: Global Tradition and Change in Children’s Songs and Games, published by Oxford University Press and winner of the Folklore Society’s Katherine Briggs Award and American Folklore Society’s Opie Award. She has undertaken international cross-cultural collaborative research into children’s musical play in Australia, Europe, the UK, USA and Korea and, as a member of an interdisciplinary research team, conducted the National Review of School Music Education in Australia.


Paul Rickard-Ford (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
26 May, 5.30pm

The Piano Works of Charles-Marie Widor
(including the launch of Paul Rickard-Ford’s new CD, Charles-Marie Widor – Piano Works)

Charles-Marie Widor, (1844-1937), is well known as a composer of organ music. He is very little known as a composer of piano music. His compositions for piano are in fact vast and due to the efforts of an Australian based publishing company his piano works are now available in fresh new publications.
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About Paul Rickard-Ford
Paul Rickard-Ford presently serves as Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Piano Unit. He completed his PhD on the late piano works of Schumann in 2010. His students have achieved outstanding success in local, national and international competitions and have been major prizewinners at the EPTA International Piano Competition in Belgium, the Adilia Alieva Competition in France, the Keri Keri International Piano Competition in New Zealand, the Vlassenko Competition in Australia and in 2012 one of his students was awarded the Best Australian Pianist at the Sydney International Piano Competition. He is a pioneer in the field of professional development for piano teachers and he is in demand as a guest lecturer at pedagogy conferences throughout Australia.


Jeffrey Kimpton (Interlochen Center for the Arts, USA)
2 June, 5.30pm

Trojans at the Gates: Converging on the New Realities of Preparing the Next Generation of Artists
(Alfred Hook Lecture)

What if the preparation of the next generation of artists were to be created–brand new–in 2014? How would new models use the convergence of new technologies, interdisciplinary influences, shifting cultural demographics, to influence the changing roles of teacher, creator and learner? How are we responding now? What happens if we fail to respond for tomorrow?
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About Jeffrey Kimpton
Jeffrey Kimpton is President, Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he leads its internationally recognized programs in arts education, public broadcasting and professional presentations. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois in music education and arts administration. Mr. Kimpton has a 40-year record of innovative leadership in K-12 schools, as Director of Education for Yamaha Corporation of America, in research at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, and as Director and professor of music education at the School of Music at the University of Minnesota. A frequent speaker and consultant, Mr. Kimpton brings his many experiences to the international dialogue among arts leaders seeking new solutions for changing times.