The Con marks 95 years of musical history

6 May 2010

The Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra is playing at the Bronnbach Festival in Germany this week.
The Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra is playing at the Bronnbach Festival in Germany this week.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music celebrates its 95th anniversary today, Thursday 6 May.

Founded in 1915, The Con was the first conservatorium in Australia, and was based on the model of the European Conservatoire. Its establishment revolutionised Australian music training.

Its stated aims were "providing tuition of a standard at least equal to that of the leading European Conservatoriums" and to "protect amateurs against the frequent waste of time and money arising from unsystematic tuition".

The reference to European standards and the appointment of a European director was controversial, but criticism subsided after the arrival the first director, Belgian conductor and violinist, Henri Verbrugghen, in 1915.

By 1916, Verbrugghen had initiated the first quartet in residence and the first state-funded orchestra in Australia.

Eugene Goosens, the Conservatorium's most famous chief for a decade from 1946 to 1956, emphasised the alliance between the Conservatorium and the new orchestras and ensembles of Australia.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Mick Le Moignan, the Director of External Relations at The Con said, "On The Con's 95th anniversary this week, the SCM Chamber Orchestra flew to Germany to be the resident orchestra at the Bronnbach Festival.

"The founding fathers of The Con would be delighted to know that their fledgling Conservatorium has survived so long (five years short of a century) and that it has reached the stage in its development of taking the great European music back to European concert halls to delight European audiences."

And there are more global tours in the wings. In July, the Con's Modern Music Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble will perform at the Shanghai World Expo. In October, the SCM Chamber Orchestra will join the pre-eminent Juilliard School of Music in a concert at the Lincoln Center in New York City at the start of a major US tour.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music amalgamated with the University of Sydney in 1990. And in 2009, the Con initiated a global scheme to generate 101 new music compositions over the next seven years - to coincide with the lead up to its centenary in 2015.

"The SCM's stated aim to be 'a global centre of excellence in music' is rapidly becoming a reality," said Mr Le Moignan.

Media inquiries: Jacqueline Chowns, 9036 5404, 0434 605 018,