12 August 2010

A permanent exhibition in a British institution devoted to the works and life of recently deceased legendary Australian conductor, Sir Charles Mackerras, is about to get larger.

And, the man who will oversee the expansion to accommodate the introduction of SCORES of additional items linked to Mackerras' six decades in the world of music, is fittingly another Australian.

Raymond Holden, a Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the home of the Mackerras collection, which is made up of tens of thousands of pieces, has overseen the archive for many years.

"Charles' very sad passing has left a very large hole in the music universe, but part of his legacy is an extraordinary collection of works, awards and recordings that represent an invaluable resource, especially for students," comments Holden, who is in Australia for a series of masterclasses and lectures in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

"It has to be one of the most comprehensive archives of any artist. Not just compositions and writings, but souvenirs, mementos, gifts and keepsakes of a fabulous life.

"The catalogue of all his contracts is especially fascinating and important because it is a mirror on the social side of his massive career in general and the music world in particular - something young researchers - and the public at large - will glean plenty from."

Sydney-born Holden, who studied at The Con in the 1970s and left for the UK in 1978, is an acknowledged research expert in the music and performances of Richard Strauss, a giant of composing and conducting in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"Charles was incredibly modest given his extraordinary achievements. When I told him I was writing a book on him, he would say: "why me, Strauss I can understand, but me?" recalls Holden.

"It wasn't a false modesty, even though in the Academy collection there are literally hundreds of medals he received for his performances in Australia, UK, Europe and the US over the decades.

"Another prized item is a mint condition copy of the program for his first-ever London performance in the late 1940s."

While in Sydney, Holden is working with conducting students at The Con.

He is also helping oversee the Australian tour of the Wilhelm Quartet, made up of four Royal Academy students, including violist Glen Donnelly, of the NSW Central Coast.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 3f27130c4c2b2d2a38205f1d22232c1e2b1d2c2c2d69375c42413204