UWA School of Music

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The UWA School of Music is part of the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education at the University of Western Australia. It is located at the North-East corner of the Crawley campus and teaches predominately Classical music, with focus in the undergraduate curriculum on performance, as well as overall strength in musicology, composition and ethnomusicology. In 2016, UWA entered the top 100 "Performing Arts" institutions in the world, and in 2017 the School improved the ranking to number 33 in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings.[1]

Looking towards the UWA School of Music from the east


The school started life as part of the education faculty under the foundation Professor Sir Frank Callaway. It was the fourth Australian university to establish courses in music (after Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney).[2] The first graduates to include a significant study of music in their degrees were two Music Education students in 1957. This followed shortly thereafter with the appointment of Frank Callaway as the foundation professor, concurrently with the establishment of the department of music in 1959.

First graduates followed in 1960 (one being the noted composer Jennifer Fowler) with a BA in Music, and the first graduates from the Bachelor of Music degree emerged in 1965. The first students to graduate with post-graduate qualifications emerged in 1971, and the late seventies saw the beginning of the Bachelor of Music Education - the department now having come full circle from its roots.[3]

In 1991, the Department of Music became a School in its own right, as part of the change of structure across the university that reduced the number of faculties.[4]

Faculty & ensembles[edit]

The School of Music has several notable members of staff in the fields of Musicology, Performance and Composition such as Dr. David Symons, Dr. Chris Tonkin,[5] Dr. Suzie Wijsman, Graeme Gilling,[6] Shaun Lee Chen (who also serves as concertmaster for the Australian Brandenberg Orchestra),[7] James Ledger (Composition) and Dr. Nicholas Bannan.[8][9] In January 2012, Professor Alan Lourens[10] was appointed Head of the School of Music.[11][12] Appointments since 2013 have included Ashley William Smith[13] as Head of Woodwinds and Contemporary Performance, Louise Devenish as Head of Percussion,[14] Andrew Foote [15] as Head of Voice, and Dr Cecilia Sun in Musicology. Noted composer James Ledger, appointed as a fractional full time staff member in 2005, has increased his involvement with the school to be almost full time by 2017.

Former Faculty include pianist Emeritus Professor Dr. Geoffrey Lancaster AM FAHA, composer Emeritus Professor Dr. Roger Smalley AM FAHA, musicologist Emeritus Professor Dr. David Tunley AM FAHA, Winthrop Professor Jane W Davidson, John Exton,[16] Winthrop Professor Paul Wright,[17] and Mark Coughlan.[18] Foundation Professor Sir Frank Callaway was a leading figure in Music Education in Australia, and a former President of the International Society for Music Education.[19]

The school has a number of important performing ensembles. The UWA Orchestra[20][21] is one of Australia's notable student ensembles,[22] with the Winthrop Singers[23][24][25] and the Symphonic Choir[26] offering students the opportunity to sing in chamber and large choirs. A recently re-established UWA Wind Orchestra has performed regularly across campus. The UWA Big Band[27] is an occasional ensemble formed for special events. Of note is the recent establishment of broadenening ensembles for students whose major is not music. These ensembles range from the skilled (for students with previous musical training) to the unskilled (for those who have no experience with music).[28]

As a signatory to the constitution of the Australian Music Education Board (AMEB), the Head of Keyboard Studies, Graeme Gilling, holds a seat on the AMEB Federal Board.[29]

In 2012 the School formalised it's relationship with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra, with whom it has a unique tertiary partnership, which has seen UWA students performing with WASO, as well as workshops and masterclasses by WASO members and soloists on campus. This is an interesting "closing of the loop", with WASO having given very many performances (as the Perth Symphony Orchestra) on campus in Winthrop Hall in the early days of the orchestra.

Honorary Research Fellows include composers Iain Grandage,[30] early music specialist and administrator Emeritus Professor Margaret Seares Guitarist Craig Ogden,[31] the soprano Sara Macliver and organist and choral director Joseph Nolan[9][32]

Undergraduate courses[edit]

Students rehearsing in the Eileen Joyce Studio. Note the collection of historical and notable keyboard instruments behind them.

In 2012, UWA adopted a new set of standard degrees, similar to other universities in Australia who have been examining the "Melbourne Model"[33] This requires students to take at least one major, and other related areas. In line with this model, there are four modes of study for Music at UWA.[34]

  1. The First Major in Music gives students the ability to take Music Studies, including one-on-one tuition on their instrument (or composition) for a year. Normally, students will pick up another major (often Engineering Studies, Languages or Sciences) in other parts of the university.
  2. The Dual Major in Music students must take Music Studies and Specialist Music Studies as their two majors. This is the performance intensive course for students who are passionate about music.
  3. Students who take the Second Major in Music option are not required to audition. However, their music experience will be limited to the academic study of music (Music Language, Musicology and Enthnomusicology). They will not take lessons or be in any ensembles unless they undertake a broadening unit in music.
  4. The Broadening units in Music are designed to give all students on campus a musical experience if they wish and are qualified to do so. Broadening units include performance options such as large ensemble in both auditioned (Orchestra, Wind Orchestra and Winthrop Singers) and non-auditioned (Show choir, Percussion ensemble) form. The non-auditioned ensembles give students who have no musical experience at all the opportunity to perform music. Also offered as Broadening units are academic studies such as History, Music Language, and Music and Science units.

The school has an enviable reputation in performance, evidenced by the list of alumni below that represent professional members of all major Australian orchestras (see below). In composition, there are large number of outstanding alumni. In 2011, James Ledger's (member of the music faculty) work Chronicles was voted as a "Classical Masterpiece", and the best Australian Masterpiece since 2000. In 2016, The School was ranked in the top 100 "Performing Arts" institutions in the world, and ranked number 1 in Australia, by the QS Top Universities Guide.[1]


Entry to the School of Music is a two-stage process that requires both an audition for the school of music, and admission to the university. Auditions are held towards the end of the year, and require students to undertake both performance and aural activities.[35]

Admission to the university usually requires an ATAR of 80 or more.[36] UWA does, however, offer many points of access, and non-standard admission to the university is not unusual.[37][38]

Post graduate degrees[edit]

The UWA School of Music graduated its first postgraduate student in 1967, and its first PhD student in 1971.[39] Currently, the School offers the following postgraduate qualifications:

Music buildings[edit]

Callaway Auditorium with the seating fully extended

Located on the North Eastern corner of the Crawley campus, the School of Music overlooks the Swan River. The current buildings were opened in 1978. In a contemporary report discussing the large number of towering pine trees in the adjacent outdoor auditorium, the architects noted "the retention of the present special qualities of Sommerville Auditorium and its unique character is considered a priority in the total solution".[40] The most recent work (2012) has been the addition of a large elevator on the northern edge.

Within the School of Music are a number of specialist facilities. The Wigmore Music Library,[41] named for the mother of a significant donor, is one of the leading academic music collections in Australia, housed in a building whose large glass wall is designed to bring the gardens and pine trees of Sommerville Auditorium into the study area. The Eileen Joyce studio, dedicated to the memory of one of Australia's great pianists, houses a significant collection of antique and current keyboard instruments, and is an regularly used for chamber music performances. It received a considerable upgrade to the facility as part of the repair process following devastating storms in March, 2010.[42]

The Callaway auditorium, dedicated to the foundation Professor of Music, is an oft-used small concert venue, and houses most of the large scale lectures. The Tunley Lecture Theatre, named for a former long serving faculty member and Head of School, is a small lecture theatre. In 2012, both the Callaway Auditorium and the Tunley Lecture Theatre received upgraded IT infrastructure to allow for lecture control from the podium, and the digital recording and broadcasting of lectures and performances.

University Academics[edit]

A large number of UWA School of Music graduates have gone on to hold substantive academic posts at universities, including the following: Ashley Smith, Roger Smalley, Christopher Tonkin, Louise Devenish, Shaun Lee Chen, Mark Coughlan & Margaret Seares (UWA), Andrew Cichy, Stephen Wild (ANU), Craig Ogden (RNCM), Kathryn Adduci (SJSU), Philip Bračanin (UQ), Dawn Bennett (Curtin), Denis Crowdy (Macquarie), Derek Bond, Lindsay Vickery, Cat Hope, Jonathon Paget, Graham Wood, Matthew Styles, Tim White and Philip Everall (WAAPA/Edith Cowan University), Victoria Rogers (UWA & WAAPA/Edith Cowan University) Heather Monkhouse (Tasmania), Marina Robinson (Sydney Con), Darryl Poulsen (UWA, UNE & Sydney Con) and Paul Evans (UNSW), Paul De Cinque (Memorial University)

Notable alumni[edit]

External links[edit]


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  3. ^ Meyer, John A., ed. (1999). Touches of sweet harmony : music in the University of Western Australia : 1953-1998. Nedlands, W.A.: CIRCME. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-86422-914-4. 
  4. ^ Meyer, John A., ed. (1999). Touches of sweet harmony : music in the University of Western Australia : 1953-1998. Nedlands, W.A.: CIRCME. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-86422-914-4. 
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Coordinates: 31°58′36″S 115°49′12″E / 31.976679°S 115.820060°E / -31.976679; 115.820060