Sydney Conservatorium of Music Dean's Gala Concert

28 March 2011

Red carpet and a Balinese gamelan ensemble set the tone for an evening of surprises and exciting talent as guests arrived for the annual Dean's Gala Concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Wednesday 23 March.

Once inside the newly-listed heritage icon, a precious gift of Chinese calligraphic art, and the captivating skills of 13-year-old pianist York Yu were both unveiled to thunderous applause.

The concert also featured sackbuts from centuries ago; the legendary Gerard Willems playing Chopin; Paul Rickard-Ford and Alexa Still wedding the piano and flute; a grandstand performance from emerging diva Rachel Bate; and Dean Professor Kim Walker and the composer herself performing extracts of Elena Kats-Chernin's new masterpiece for solo bassoon, percussion, piano and string orchestra, Setting Out.

This was just a snapshot of an evening that showcased the dazzling array of skills that have been nurtured and developed at the Con, now widely regarded as a world leader in music education and performance.

Reflecting on the Conservatorium's achievements, Dean and Principal Professor Kim Walker thanked the institution's supporters and benefactors for playing a major role in creating a centre of excellence.

"We are well on track with our aim to create and sustain a world-leading learning institution that maximises the potential of the brightest researchers and most promising students, whatever their social or cultural background," Professor Walker said.

"In 2004, our student population was predominantly undergraduates hailing from Australia with a handful of internationals.

"Today, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is the first choice for destination for students from 35 countries, attracting stellar postgraduate and undergraduate students.

"We collaborate globally with peer institutions like the Juilliard School, the Royal College of Music and the Beijing Conservatory.

"Our phenomenal Rising Stars program in the Conservatorium Open Academy has seen young players invited to Moscow and major European competitions.

"I believe this global outreach is essential to maximising our potential, and I sincerely thank our benefactors for supporting this vision and the many young people who benefit."

Patron of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Foundation and former Premier of NSW, Bob Carr reflected on the important role that music plays in our society.

"Music is the heartbeat of a city, and this Conservatorium is at the centre of Sydney's heartbeat," Mr Carr said.

"As we move towards the centenary in 2015, I encourage you to continue your support of this wonderful Sydney icon."

Chinese calligraphic artwork presented

In the complex world of palindromic poetry and calligraphic art, the achievements of Chinese-born Australian Liang Xiao Ping are without peer.

In 2008, her epic work - The Paean to the Beijing Olympiad - was presented to the Chinese Olympic Committee as a gift from the Australian people.

Last week, Ms Liang presented a composition designed exclusively for the Conservatorium, as a permanent gift to the students, faculty and visitors.

She explained that she composed the 10 metre x 1.2 metre work after partnering with the Conservatorium in a celebration of oriental art.

"In April 2010, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Confucius Institute of the University of Sydney co-presented a symposium on Asian musical and visual culture," she said.

"Delighted and overwhelmed, I composed this palindrome couplet to mark the occasion."

The gift was accepted by University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence and Dean and Principal of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Professor Kim Walker.

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