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Research events

Showcasing our specialist work and welcoming visiting academics

Our events reflect the Conservatorium's commitment to creative, academic and experimental research. Everyone is welcome to attend, and most of our events are free of charge.

Special research events

Alfred Samuel Hook (1886-1963) was a practising architect who believed architecture, like music, was "an art vital to people's prosperity". He helped found the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture in 1918, from which he retired as dean in 1949. Hook's other great love was music. Hook gave lunch-hour talks on the history of music, illustrated by the University’s collection of gramophone records. He was a member of the University's choral group and, as a keen organist, was associated with installing the University’s War Memorial Carillon in 1928 and founding the Department of Music in 1948.

The Alfred Hook lecture is held once a semester and the series is made possible through a generous bequest from Doreen Robson. For more information, please email series coordinator and Research Services Manager Dr Joseph Toltz.

Archival recordings of music in Bali

Tuesday 3 April, 5pm

Recital Hall East

Free; it is not necessary to book.

American researcher Dr Edward Herbst explores rare German recordings of Balinese music made in 1928. This lecture will illustrate aesthetic and ethical approaches to dissemination through digital media; challenges of accessing archives worldwide; collaborative research methodologies; and strategies for repatriation.

Claire Chase, Density 2036

Monday 21 May, 6pm 

Recital Hall West

Free; it is not necessary to book.
Please join us for refreshments at the conclusion.

Flautist Claire Chase offers an interactive performance-lecture and discussion of her 22-year project, Density 2036, begun in 2014. Chase's ambitious initiative is to create, archive and advance a new body of repertory for solo flute leading up to the 100th anniversary of Density 21.5, Edgard Varese’s seminal and groundbreaking 1936 work. Chase will perform and discuss excerpts from the first five years of the project.

Previous events

Please see our past events page.


This free public lecture series is hosted by our Music Education staff. The series is designed to spark collegial debate among the music education community, including primary, high school and tertiary music educators, pre-service (undergraduate or postgraduate) music teachers, conductors of school and community ensembles, and practitioners in preschool education, special needs education and music therapy.

Each semester we invite leading practitioners and researchers to open discussion with a 20-minute TED-style presentation on a topic of their choice followed by a facilitated Q&A. The series is as much about participation as learning so we invite attendees to contribute and stay for refreshments and a chance to explore ideas informally.

Previous events

Please see our past events page.

Every fortnight during semester, our musicologists and research visitors present a lecture on a variety of topics.

Classical music performance norms and how to escape them

Presented by Emeritus Professor Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, King’s College, London

Wednesday 14 March, 4.15pm, Room 2174

While Western Classical Music seems to celebrate creativity and offer moving experiences, it is also an authoritarian and codified system. Standards and styles are strictly maintained by teachers, examiners, critics, agents, concert managers. Does this sound like a police state? This talk takes a highly critical view and aims to answer key questions, with examples.

Reviving early 20th-century Balinese vocal styles through the music recordings of 1928

Presented by Dr Edward Herbst, Project Director and principal researcher, Bali 1928 Repatriation Project

Wednesday 28 March, 4.15pm, Room 2174

This talk explores rare German recordings of Balinese music and illustrates aesthetic and ethical approaches to dissemination through digital media; challenges of accessing archives worldwide; collaborative research methodologies; and strategies for repatriation.

Of doubles, groups and rhymes: Spatialized works and the artistic response to sound technology (1958-1960)

Presented by Associate Professor Jonathan Goldman, University of Montreal

Wednesday 11 April, 4.15pm, Room 2174

Between March 1958 and October 1960, five major works for spatially distributed orchestral groups first performed in Europe. This was the era that saw commercial introduction of stereo long-playing records and the mass distribution of stereo sound into homes. To what extent did this influence listeners and composers?

The moot audition: Transforming music listening through experiential learning

Presented by Associate Professor Helen Mitchell, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Wednesday 2 May, 4.15pm, Room 2174

Listening is regarded as the main way to engage with music performance, but a growing body of research suggests sight trumps sound. Music is a multisensory experience, and music education needs to absorb these findings. This talk considers the moot audition as a key learning opportunity to experience music performance. 

Collaborative Aboriginal song analysis in community workshops

Presented by Dr Clint Bracknell, Associate Dean (Indigenous Strategy and Services), Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Wednesday 23 May, 4.15pm, Room 2174

Wirlomin Noongar people in WA's south are engaging in workshops to consolidate and revive regional singing practices. The Noongar language is critically endangered. With an agreed aim of producing a performable repertoire, many uncertainties due to limitations in the original field situations need to be resolved. Once the group reaches agreement on meaning and function, we begin the gradual process of breathing life back into the old songs. 

How Frankenstein's Monster became a music lover

Presented by Associate Professor James Wierzbicki, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Wednesday 6 June, 4.15pm, Room 2174

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a highly celebrated novel that has also spurred various film adaptations. Scenes of the creature being enraptured by music have become deeply embedded, but this image is not in the 1818 novel. Why do so many filmmakers have this exaggerated concentration on music?

Previous events

Please see our past events page.