3 November 2010

Professor Kim Walker
Professor Kim Walker

Increasingly, governments all over the world are beginning to understand that music is central and essential to human happiness; that every child deserves an education in music, according to Dean and Principal of The Con, Professor Kim Walker.

Speaking this week at an international forum in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the Central Conservatory of Music, Professor Walker said:

"Music is the currency of hope, and it transcends geography, creed or ethnicity, which is why it is so valuable in today's global dimensions.

"Learning humanity's universal language should be a birthright for all citizens. That is the vision to which I and my colleagues in Sydney aspire and the practical centrepiece of it is our ensemble and master class touring.

"Music has the power, not only to raise the spirits of the individual, but to bridge the distances between nations and cultures, as well as differences and misunderstandings.

"Twenty years ago, I came to this magnificent Conservatory and I was deeply moved to hear, for the first time, the music of China - by which I mean both the traditional music of this great culture and the music of the European classical tradition, played beautifully by Chinese musicians.

"That experience filled me with hope for the future. I saw that the language of music, has a power to cross cultural and national borders, to create a common understanding in our hearts of what it means to be human, to share our burdens and our artistic treasures.

"We in Australia are keenly aware of the value of other musical traditions. Earlier this year, we hosted a Research Forum in Sydney on Asian music - Preserving Traditions and Facing the Future - attended by 200 delegates from 11 countries.

"Also our orchestras and ensembles have given concerts and worked with fellow-musicians all over the world. In Europe, we performed in England, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We were privileged to give 42 concerts at the Shanghai World Expo.

"And we have just returned from a tour of the United States, where our orchestra united, first, with the orchestra of the Juilliard School in New York, playing side by side with them in a concert at Lincoln Center that was streamed live on the internet to our audience and other students at home in Australia. We then went on to play similar concerts in San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado."

Professor Walker said China's National Centre for the Performing Arts was now comparable to the finest halls in Berlin, New York, London and the vast list of guest artists coming to China was second to none.

"The World Expo has welcomed 500,000 people per day to visit the pavilions of all nations where the visual arts, music and cultural heritage of each country are enjoyed by vast numbers of people," she said.

"Through this large cultural doorway the world has been brought together for focused discussions on education, the environment, healthcare, leading scientific research and economic growth.

"Music has played a vital part in this process of bringing people together.

"The value placed on culture in Asia is a model for all of us now, and music education has an essential role in fostering global understanding.

"That is why we applaud and congratulate all of you at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music for the astonishing progress you have made in recent years and for your deep commitment and determination to continue raising musical standards in the future."

Professor Walker said at The Con there was a focus on Indigenous music worldwide as well as the classical repertoire and new music of the times. Technological innovations were diminishing the distances between different cultures.

"Soon, students will be able to study in one country and collaborate easily with scholars and performers elsewhere," she said.

"The fact is the music of China, Europe, Siberia, Australia, Asia and the USA is now readily accessible in a way that we could scarcely have imagined, 20 years ago.

"The students are the ones to whom we shall pass this beacon of hope: we must make sure they understand the importance of their task, not only for themselves, but for the whole world."

Professor Walker said The Con would welcome wholeheartedly the invitation to develop and strengthen its relationship with China and the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

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