28 October 2011

At the end of 2011, Professor Kim Walker will complete her second term as Dean & Principal of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a role she commenced in 2004. In a fitting tribute to her tenure as Dean, during which The Con has achieved unprecedented international recognition, the SCM Symphony Orchestra will take on the challenge of Mahler's magnificent Ninth Symphony, under their Maestro, Professor Imre Palló, in a concert aptly titled Endtime.

Professor Walker will long be remembered for transforming the Conservatorium into the thriving institution it is today and for achieving an unprecedented level of musical excellence and an impressive international profile. At the core of The Con's new reputation is the substantial orchestral program constructed by Professor Walker over the past eight years, which now includes the SCM Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, the Early Music Ensemble, Modern Music Ensemble and Jazz Big Band, as well as many smaller groups.

The program has provided SCM students with opportunities to tour and perform in a broad range of ensembles and musical styles, engaging with repertoire from Rameau to Reich, a vital foundation for anyone seeking a successful career as an orchestral musician. The unique dimension that Prof. Walker has given students over the past eight years is a global perspective and experience.

This year, the SCM's Early Music Ensemble, led by Dr Neal Peres Da Costa, went on tour to Europe and performed in Milan's Basilica San Simpliciano and Genoa's 17th century Palazzo Rosso. There was no returning home after these performances: they then combined with Milan's Scuola di Musica to form a new ensemble, led by the internationally renowned virtuoso Stefano Montanari, and performed a program of Vivaldi at the Alkmaar Music Festival in the Netherlands. The tour concluded with a combined orchestral project and further performances in association with the Royal College of Music London, whose Historical Performance Unit visited Sydney in 2010 to give similar performances with the Early Music students at the Conservatorium.

Such is the SCM's international profile that, at the same time, another group of SCM students were invited to Switzerland to take part in a prestigious chamber music and orchestral project, with performances at Lausanne's Music Festival. SCM students worked with fellow students and lecturers from other world-ranking music schools, including London's Guildhall, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, as well as the Lausanne Conservatory.

An integral appointment to the SCM orchestral program was that of Professor Imre Palló as Pro-Dean (Performance) and Chair of Conducting. Palló, formerly one of the Principal Conductors at the New York City Opera and Chair of Instrumental Conducting at Indiana University, demanded a high standard of musicianship and discipline from the students then he came to Sydney in 2005.

Last month, the SCM Chamber Orchestra played under Pallós baton in New Caledonia, where students experienced the sublime counterpoint of French sophistication and a Melanesian lifestyle. They performed to three full houses and standing ovations at the Conservatoire de Musique de la Nouvelle-Calédonie. The program included Barry Conyngham's Falling Water, a 101 Compositions for 100 Years commission, featuring soloists Kim Walker and Yoshi Ishikawa (University of Colorado at Boulder) and works by Mozart and Rossini.

Prior to these tours, in 2010, the SCM Chamber Orchestra gave a joint concert at New York's Lincoln Centre with their counterpart orchestra at the Julliard School of Music and performed in San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado. In the same year, the SCM Symphony Orchestra was the resident orchestra at the prestigious Bronnbach Festival in Germany and the Modern Music Ensemble and The Con's Jazz Big Band gave over forty performances at the Shanghai World Expo. In 2009 they undertook a comprehensive tour of Europe, visiting the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

The "Endtime" Mahler concerts this weekend will be a final tribute by The Con's orchestral students to Dean Walker, who has done so much to give them the best possible foundation for their careers as professional musicians.

In his Harvard University lecture, The Unanswered Question, the great Leonard Bernstein described Mahler's Ninth as being:

"Terrifying and paralyzing, as the strands of sound disintegrate ... in ceasing, we lose it all. But in letting go, we have gained everything."

The graduating students and the departing Dean have achieved much fine music and have much more to look forward to.

Endtime: Mahler's Ninth Symphony
SCM Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Imre Palló
Friday 28 October at 6.00pm
Saturday 29 October at 4.00pm.

The Friday Concert will be followed by a Farewell Celebration in the atrium for SCM staff, students, Alumni and Friends of The Con.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 1a51221d6b3401541e2e0a272621023633252b2f087f262c5e480302