ANU School of Music

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Canberra School of Music)
Jump to: navigation, search
Australian National University School of Music
Building 100,
William Herbert Place,
Australian National University, Acton,

Canberra, 0200
Established 1965
Head of School Peter Tregear
Faculty Music
Enrolment 250+
Campus Urban
Colour(s) Crimson, gold, navy ‹See Tfm›    ‹See Tfm›    ‹See Tfm›    
Information (02) 6125 5700

The ANU School of Music is a school in the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, which forms part of the College of Arts and Social Sciences of the Australian National University. It consists of four buildings, including the main School of Music building – which contains Llewellyn Hall – and the Peter Karmel Building.

The School of Music's teaching encompasses performance tuition across all standard Western instruments and genres (including Early Music and Popular Music), as well as voice, alongside musicianship, musicology, sound recording, and a strong interest in indigenous Australian musics.


The School of Music was established under the name Canberra School of Music in 1965 with Ernest Llewellyn as the founding Director. The original plans for the School were prepared in the 1960s when the Department of the Interior recognized the need to establish centres for art and music study in the national capital, with the vision of providing high-level performance and practice. Sir Richard Kingsland, Secretary of the Department from 1963 to 1970, provided valuable support for Ernest Llewellyn's vision. The Canberra School of Music was established in 1965. It was first located in the Canberra suburb of Manuka and in 1976 moved to its current site on Childers Street between the Australian National University and the city centre, becoming the first purpose-built music school facility in Australia.

Llewellyn's vision for the school was based on the Juilliard School; he regarded Isaac Stern, with whom he had studied at Juilliard and who was his long time friend, as the "father" of the school. He set the School up with a hand-picked staff and a focus on the training of soloists, chamber and orchestral musicians. As part of his grand plan he also envisaged the development of a national symphony orchestra based in Canberra. This has never been established, although Canberra has its own professional part-time orchestra, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, based in Llewellyn Hall.

Responsibility for the Canberra School of Music passed from the Department of the Interior to the Minister for Education and Science, John Gorton. Control was transferred in 1974, and Sir Richard was the first Chairman of the Canberra School of Music. The Kingsland Room in the School of Music is named in his honour. The current School of Music building was opened in 1976. In 1987, the Canberra School of Music combined with the Canberra School of Art to create the Canberra Institute for the Arts. In 1992, it became part of the Australian National University. In 2001, the Peter Karmel Building was opened to house the Jazz and Percussion Areas, and the Centre for New Media Arts. An extension to the Music Library was completed at the same time. In 2004, the National Institute of the Arts was dissolved, with the Schools of Music and Art becoming part of what was then the ANU Faculty of the Arts.

In 2007–08 the future of the School of Music came under review by the Australian National University.[1] In 2012 the School of Music was subject of heated public debate, as the University responded to an annual running loss of $3 million and a lack of adequate funding from various sources including Federal and Territory governments, with a reduction in the University's internal subsidy, and with a dramatic overhaul of the School's curriculum and staffing arrangements[2] The aim was to bring the School's finances under control, as well as institute a course design that better reflected the complex realities of a modern music career.[3]

Past and present staff include Don Banks (composer), Dr Calvin Bowman (composer, organist), Dr Ruth Lee Martin (composer/musicologist), Dr Alistair Noble (composer/musicologist), visiting fellows Dr Stephen Wild and Dr Hazel Hall (ethnomusicologists), and Dr Aaron Corn (ethnomusicologist), Geoffrey Lancaster (fortepianist/conductor), Vernon Hill (flute), Larry Sitsky (pianist/composer), Dr David Worrall (composer), Jim Cotter (composer), Tor Fromyhr (violin, viola), Gary France (percussion), David Pereira (cello), Alice Giles (harp), Megan Billing (oboe), Max McBride (double bass/conductor), Virginia Taylor (flute), Rick McIntyre (bassoon). The Head of School until mid-2008 was John Luxton, who at the beginning of 2009 was succeeded by Professor Adrian Walter.[4] Professor Walter resigned in June 2012 to take up the Headship of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Professor Peter Tregear, a graduate of the University of Cambridge and a prominent conductor and musicologist, was appointed to replace him and took up his post in August 2012.

New appointments to the School in 2013 include leading Australian tenor Dr Paul McMahon, music and technology specialist Dr Samantha Bennett, and early music (and musicology) expert and violinist Dr David Irving. In April 2014, the School announced that the leading Australian harpsichordist, fortepianist and conductor Erin Helyard would also be joining the School, commencing in July 2014.[5] Helyard is the co-founder and director of Pinchgut Opera.

Present day[edit]

The school offers the academic degree of Bachelor of Music at the undergraduate level. Since 2005, such combined degree programs as the Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Laws, and Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Science have been offered by the ANU. Postgraduate programs include graduate diplomas, and Master's degrees majoring in Performance, Composition, or Musicology. It also offers the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – again available in Performance, Composition and Musicology.

The school has had a number of ensembles in residence, including the Australian Haydn Ensemble. It also hosts recipients of the H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship. Ensembles currently running in the School included

  • The ANU Very Big Band
  • The ANU Chamber Choir
  • The ANU Chamber Orchestra
  • The ANU Guitar Ensemble
  • The ANU Popular Music Group
  • The ANU World Music Ensemble
  • The ANU Guitar Ensemble
  • The DRUMatiX Percussion Group

The School is a national leader in music research, particularly in the areas of classical and historically informed performance, jazz performance, music pedagogy, composition, musicology and ethnomusicology – especially Indigenous Australian music and the music of South-East Asia.

The School of Music also runs an 'Open School', a pre-tertiary program for students who study music at primary school and high schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Gifted pre-tertiary music students are able to take single study lessons in various instrumental disciplines, under the supervision of the School's full-time teaching staff.

A School of Music Foundation assists the School to continue its projects with students and the community. The Foundation is currently chaired by School graduate and leading South Australian businesswoman, Dr Marcia Hewitt.

Location, grounds and buildings[edit]

The School of Music complex is situated on the south-eastern edge of the Australian National University campus, between the School of Art and University Avenue, bordered on the north-western face by Childers Street. It is also close to the popular landmark and performance space The Street Theatre.

The complex itself consists of four buildings; two of which are demountables. The demountable buildings, which are joined, were installed in the 1990s and house some of the graduate facilities as well as some administration and technical capacity of the Music area and are colloquially known as "The Shed".

The two permanent buildings, the main School of Music Building (SoM building) and the Peter Karmel building are both built in contemporary architectural styles.


The SoM building currently plays host to the brass, composition, guitar, musicology, string, voice and woodwind departments, the Keyboard Institute, the Music Library, and Llewellyn Hall.

The SoM building was designed for the National Capital Development Commission in 1970 by architects Daryl Jackson and Evan Walker. The architectural works of Jackson at this time can be seen to be in parallel with those of noted U.S. architect Paul Rudolph, most notably his 1960s interpretations of Le Corbusier's later works.[6]

The following, taken from the Australian National University's Heritage Factsheet on the School of music, provides a physical description of the building and its architectural merits and heritage:

The building is a six level building, oriented inwardly to the core of the site, with the public and administration areas wrapped around the more acoustically sensitive performing and teaching areas as a barrier against the noise. In vertical relationship of areas the spaces which tend to generate greater noise problems are located on Levels Five and Six. It was originally anticipated that there would be significant external traffic noise from an arterial road but this was never built. Daryl Jackson described the design in the following way 'The School's boldness of form is due to these factors as well as a desire to produce an assertive cubist arrangement whose parts explore landscape and figurative metaphors, to create architectural presence'. The building has white off form concrete walls, concrete framing and floors with white concrete blockwork infill and no large areas of glazing, apart from glazing to the external circulation routes around the 1,500 seat auditorium and a metal deck roof. There is a sculpture by Norma Redpath adjacent to the entry.

The heavily sculptured forms of this building come from the phase in Daryl Jackson's work when he pursued ideas of rendering large mass in a way he called 'cubist', using common materials, particularly off-form concrete and masonry. In addition there are a number of other items which are manipulated sculpturally, such as the external expression of stairs as cylindrical tubes and a visually weighty cantilevered room at the upper levels of the building as if it were a garret.

— ANU Heritage Factsheet, School of Music

The building is heritage-listed by;

  • Royal Australian Institute of Architects (Ref: R031);
  • ACT Heritage Register (Nominated);
  • Commonwealth Heritage List (Place ID – 105636);
  • National Trust of Australia (ACT) Classification List: Classified.

Refurbishments to the SoM building in 2008 after a storm caused serious damage to the roof have included the complete refurbishment of Llewellyn Hall and an update and redesign of the Musicology and Composition Departments.

Llewellyn Hall[edit]

The SoM building houses the Llewellyn Hall, a 1,400-seat concert hall that not only hosts events of the School (including most of the ANU's graduation ceremonies), but is also the venue for concerts by the leading musical organisations of the city (including the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Canberra Youth Orchestra, Canberra Choral Society and The Llewellyn Choir) and the nation (such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Musica Viva.

The ACT government provides Llewellyn Hall $200,000 each year in addition to the ANU's $1.6 million annual funding for outreach programs. The 2010 Loxton Review of the Arts in Canberra recommended that in regards to Llewellyn Hall, "with such significant support, the ACT Government should leverage considerably greater benefits for the ACT arts and public, based more on a sharing arrangement, with extended and more affordable access. If this is not possible, it may be necessary to consider whether ACT public arts funding could be more productively invested in the arts and music elsewhere". The Loxton report also recognized the vital contribution the ANU School of Music provided the ACT public.[7]

The Llewellyn Hall came about directly through the initiative of its namesake, Ernest Llewellyn, the founding Head of School and instigator of the Canberra School of Music project. Llewellyn's plans, drawn with renowned architect Daryl Jackson, provided for a large "lecture hall" (with seating for 1,300 people and full audio and lighting facilities), smaller rehearsal spaces, teaching studios and offices.

Peter Karmel Building[edit]

An addition to the School of Music is the Peter Karmel Building, opened in 2001. The work of MGT Architects, this building is discretely separate – both in a site planning and architectural manner – to the original building.

The Peter Karmel Building was designed as a new freestanding addition to the Canberra School of Music to accommodate numerous practice and performance functions for the School, with specific accommodation of the Jazz and Percussion Departments and the Australian Centre for Arts and Technology (ACAT). The two-storey building forms a new Entry Court to the School of Music complex and provides integrated connections between practice and performance spaces in both the original School and new addition. The façade design commission by artist Marie Hagerty was intended to be an opportunity for the artist to work with the large-scale architectural forms in their three-dimensional landscape setting to create a patterning, ‘marking’, and enlivening of the glazed and solid surfaces of the building's exterior.

The building, named after former ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Karmel, was designed and project managed by Guida Mosely Brown Architects in conjunction with commissioned artist Marie Hagerty.[8] It currently houses the Centre for New Media Arts, the Jazz Department and the Percussion Department. It also contains the fourth most important performance space in the ANU campus (after Llewellyn Hall, the Theatre Arts Performance Space and Theatre 1, the Home of Canberra Repertory), the Band Room.

Further reading[edit]

William L. Hoffmann, The Canberra School of Music: The First 25 Years, 1965–1990 (Acton, ACT: CSM, 1990).


  1. ^ "Future Directions". Archived from the original on 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  2. ^ "School of Music under threat". Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ Major cuts to ANU School of Music, ABC News Online, 3 May 2012, accessed 8 December 2012
  4. ^ "New Head of ANU School of Music Appointed, Friday 17 October 2008". Archived from the original on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  5. ^ Paget, Clive (18 April 2014). "Erin Helyard to join ANU". Limelight Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "ANU Heritage Factsheet, School Of Music Building". Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  7. ^ Loxton P & Loxton T 2010. Report Review of the Arts in Canberra. Peter Loxton & Associates Pty Ltd
  8. ^ "GMB Architects, Peter Karmel Building Project". Retrieved 2008-12-13. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°16′52″S 149°07′26″E / 35.281°S 149.124°E / -35.281; 149.124