When I first raised the subject of holding ANZCA's second conference in Canberra with our ACT Representatives Giselle and Kieran Roberts not long after our first conference in Rotorua, they both enthusiastically took up the challenge to frame the program and to seek the best possible presenters and sponsors. They certainly achieved their aim in large measure. In the early stages of planning we met with Peter Tregear, then Head of Music at the Australian National University (ANU), who was equally affirming about the prospect of holding our conference at the School of Music. Peter was quick to acknowledge the common ground that both the ANU and ANZCA shared in the development of music programming and the needs of 21st century learners in music.
ANZCA’s New Association with the ANU
Prior to the commencement of this year’s conference I, along with Maureen Milton, Maureen Grieve and Tony Betros (General Manager), met with the newly appointed artistic director in the School of Music, Professor Kenneth Lampl (pictured left). No momentum had been lost as far as ANZCA was concerned with Ken’s appointment – he was excited by the prospect of working with ANZCA, as we share similar optimism about the future direction of music and the need to support and encourage creative endeavour in all music students. (Ken accepted his appointment at the ANU having left high-level positions in the United States in music and film composition. Ken has written on his website, ‘there is no greater joy than composing music… I always wanted to create music because it is an opportunity to bring something of beauty into the world – something that has not existed before – and enable people to experience that which lies beyond the immediate senses.’ See Ken’s website at www.kenlampl.com.) Ken’s particular specialty is the development of multimedia music and music for film. Ken opened our conference on Saturday October 1st with a very clear statement of purpose and belief in his approach to music education, and the future alignment he identified with ANZCA’s mission. ANZCA’s offer to fund a scholarship in the School of Music was accepted with much pleasure by Ken, who indicated that the annual scholarship would provide encouragement and incentive for creativity within the School.
The conference opening was preceded by a Welcome Reception held in the School of Music on Friday evening. This was an ideal opportunity for all attendees to mingle and make themselves known to one another. Attendees were entertained with a live jazz performance featuring the exceptional musicianship of the John Black Trio. John later ran two sessions on Saturday that dealt with embellishment and reinterpretation of popular music in various styles.
Following the opening of the conference, Board Director Doug McGregor (saxophonist) together with Christopher Norton launched ANZCA’s Jazz Syllabus for brass and woodwind. This syllabus is a first for ANZCA and aims to generate interest from the wider music community and secondary school music programs. Christopher and Doug have expended considerable effort to develop this innovative syllabus, with Christopher having written 90 melodies on which students will be expected to improvise. The music is graded in five levels and will include suggestions by Doug on how each head may be improvised.
Presentations on Day 1 included “Dos and Don’ts of Managing a Private Music Teaching Studio” (by Board Directors Maureen Milton OAM and Maureen Grieve); musicologist Rachel Campbell covered issues that addressed General Music Knowledge and bringing singing into the studio or classroom; Dr. Therese Milanovic led a most informative session on “Teaching the Taubman Approach to Beginners”; saxophonist John Mackey led an improvisation session that dealt with “Teaching Improvisation within the Student Ensemble Framework”, and Katie de Veau (voice) led a most valuable session for students and teachers on “The Art of Performing”. A highlight of Day 1 was the launch of Larry Sitsky’s The Century Volumes. Larry was present and spoke of his life’s work in composition and the pleasure he derived from seeing his works published in three volumes by music publishing company Wirripang (www.australiancomposers.com.au). Larry also spoke of his latest venture: the creation of a “virtual opera” to be viewed on computers rather than in a theatre and as he said, free from stage managers, actors, costuming and sets.
The Century Volumes launch was followed by the concert A Tribute to the Piano Music of Larry Sitsky. Giselle Roberts, Therese Milanovic and Aaron Chew performed works by the composer, while Michael Kieran Harvey’s stunning virtuoso performance of one of Larry’s major works The Way of the Seeker justifiably received a standing ovation from the audience. The Way of the Seeker is physically demanding on the performer, requiring a great expenditure of energy and emotion. The Kawai piano required “recovery time” following Michael’s artistic and dramatic performance. The exhilarating first day of the conference ended with a dinner at the Teatro Vivaldi Restaurant on campus. Diners were entertained by Christopher, Doug and Lesley Gentilin, whose musical performance during the meal was very much appreciated by all.
Day 2 offerings added further depth to the program of Day 1. Caryn Eastman-Roberts (ANZCA examiner) began the day with a discussion of ANZCA’s Pathway to… series of theory books, which generated considerable interest in these newly-released and long sought-after publications. Angela Turner (piano) explored possible piano repertoire options; Carmel Liertz held sessions that dealt with practical strategies to foster mind-body awareness and achieve performance confidence; Elissa Milne’s presentations covered the effect that learning an instrument had on children’s development and teaching children with learning difficulties; Kerin Bailey (jazz musician and composer) explored “Jazz Rhythm and Style” with reference to his Jazzin’ Around series, and Lesley Gentilin presented a session on her I Play Ukulele ANZCA tutor book and syllabus. (Book 2 in the series is due for release in the near future.)
Across the two days of the conference, masterclasses were held by Christopher Norton, Kerin Bailey and Elissa Milne with students keen to learn from performance advice given by three distinguished musicians. As I watched the sessions, I thought how fortunate these students were to have the opportunity to improve their performance technique under the guidance and encouragement of Christopher, Kerin and Elissa. At the Student Celebration Grand Finale Concert on Sunday afternoon, it was certainly evident that students had gained much from their involvement in the masterclasses, clearly demonstrating that they had put into practice what they had learned.
The outstanding success of our second conference was met with much appreciation for not only the high calibre of the presenters but also for the friendly, inclusive atmosphere of the conference. Attendees had travelled from all over Australia and from “across the ditch” in New Zealand. Canberra teachers were also well represented. It really was a conference not to have missed and one in which attendees took away many happy and positive memories.
Sponsors were instrumental in assisting ANZCA to offer a conference of great merit. It is with much appreciation that we particularly acknowledge the generous support of Kawai, our major sponsor who guaranteed that our presenters had the best grand pianos available at all sessions to work with and generously contributed to conference costs. The partnering arrangement with the Australian National University School of Music facilitated the finest environment in which to hold the conference, and for this support ANZCA is greatly indebted. This connection with the School will continue to flourish over time. We also acknowledge the generous support of Hal Leonard Australia, Wirripang, Keyboard Association ACT, Better Music, The Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland and Music Bumblebees.
Appreciation is extended to Andrew Craggs and Tony Betros in the ANZCA office for all the behind-the-scenes work that was necessary to ensure that all administrative arrangements were properly managed. This was a demanding responsibility most capably carried out. Thank you.
Where to next? Even at this early stage the next conference is planned for Melbourne. Our two conferences thus far have been groundbreaking. We have set ourselves a very high benchmark to follow, but have shown that we are up to the task. Do plan to join us in Melbourne in 2018.