18 February 2010

In January 1962 an eminent British music examiner pronounced at a gala event in Sydney that Janet Palmer was destined to become the pianistic equivalent of opera diva Dame Joan Sutherland.

The 21-year-old Palmer, from Sydney's North Shore, had just received the inaugural Shadforth Hooper Memorial Prize, an award presented to the best young pianist by the Music Circle of the Women's Club, to mark its 60th anniversary.

Fast forward 48 years and that 60s crystal ball gazing holds true - Dame Janet Ritterman (nee Palmer) is recognized as Australia's most honoured and credentialed music educator, with a stellar career in chamber music performance, teaching, administration, research, publishing and advising.

She is also one of several thousand young scholars who attended the former NSW Conservatorium of Music (now the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a faculty of the University of Sydney) between 1940 and 1990 and who are now being recognized as Alumni of the University.

Dame Janet, who until 2005 was Director of the Royal College of Music London and is currently Vice-President, will be Guest of Honour at the first 'recognition' ceremony today to mark the start of a year-long round of certification of pre-1990 students of The Con.

A year-long campaign by The Con to track down the 'missing' musicians has so far attracted hundreds of people from all over the country, some of them aged in their mid-90s.

'In short, Dame Janet has been one of the world's most influential people in fostering music and arts education and its contribution to society,' commented the Dean and Principal of The Con, Professor Kim Walker.

'Her music education roots go back to the NSW Conservatorium of Music, where she studied piano, before going on to complete a Masters degree and Doctorate at the University of London.

'Dame Janet's research interests relate principally to European concert life, in particular the contribution of pianists. She has produced national reports on orchestral provision and on opera training, has delivered addresses on music and music education at national and international conferences and published on performing and teaching.

'She has taught music in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, as well as Saturday music centres, and designed and run undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

'Now, while much her career has been focused on music education and the place of music in world society, nevertheless, her performance career has been just as significant,' added Professor Walker.

'As a pianist and accompanist, she has specialized in working with singers, in chamber music performance, and in the training of gifted performers.'

Dame Janet, until last year Chair of the UK Higher Education Funding Council, currently acts as an international adviser on the arts and higher education, including for the Austrian Science Council, and serves as trustee of various UK arts-related charities.

The Recognition Ceremonies involve a formal event in the University's Great Hall, followed by a Reunion Concert and Champagne Reception at The Con.

CON Alumni Recognition Ceremony/Reunion Concert-Champagne Reception
Thursday, 18 February, 9.15am-10.35am/12 noon-1.30pm

Great Hall, University of Sydney/Sydney Conservatorium of Music
In attendance - Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir; Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, Professor Kim Walker, Dame Janet Ritterman, 120 Guest Former Students

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

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