School's in for Ros

5 August 2009

Sydney musician Ros Dunlop has been lavished with praise at home and abroad for her compositions, live performances and CD releases, but it is a small project in East Timor that provides a special warm inner glow.

Dunlop, a lecturer in clarinet at The Con, has spent six years recording Timorese indigenous music through a scheme called Music Recovery, working in collaboration with composer Martin Wesley-Smith.

Their objective of reviving original sounds and songs and putting them to practical contemporary use through the local education system has been given a giant boost through the development of the island country's first music school "Hadahur."

The project, which began at the start of 2008, has just received major new funding as a result of a prestigious award from the International Society for Music Education (ISME) and the Gibson Foundation.

The funding means the school can expand to a new curriculum across guitars, voice, piano, violin and traditional instruments and dance. A pilot program is now underway in a mountain school with orff/kodaly specialist Rachel Scott.

In her role as International Director of Hadahur, Dunlop coordinated the official launch concert with the Mary McKillop East Timor Mission. She is now assisting in leading a mentoring program by professional teachers from Australia, together with the training of local teachers to conduct early childhood classes.

East Timor President, Dr Jose Ramos Horta, is the Patron of the Hadahur project.
"In a country where feeding and housing people is the most pressing need, music school activities are best begun in simple and manageable ways to ensure they are more viable and sustainable in the long term," the ISME noted in its announcement of the award to the project.

"So the directors intend to move carefully and slowly with developing the music school as its needs require."

Comments Dunlop: "The wonderful thing about Timor-Leste is its rich and unique culture, with an exceptional musical tradition, so the environment in which the new school is emerging is so fertile.

"I am sure, and so very chuffed, that this initiative will encourage the Timorese people to be proud of their musical heritage, to enjoy it themselves and preserve it for future generations through learning the traditional Timorese music and instruments.

"From this strong base, the school will expand its library, instrumental store and other facilities, along with the introduction of a Western Art Music Program and a Popular/Contemporary Music Program to encourage excellence in study and performance."

Dean and Principal of The Con, Professor Kim Walker, congratulated Dunlop for "her sustained efforts over many years, which are now paying off."

"This result goes back to the premise that it isn't true that what is useful is always beautiful. At the same time, what is beautiful, or artistic and musical in this case, is useful as beauty, music and aesthetics can and do improve people's way of life and thinking."

Media inquiries to
Scott Saunders, at The Con, on 02 9351 1298,
or Graham Cassidy, Cato Counsel, 0419 202317