During 1972 and 1978, I worked at the School of Music, and for the most part directly to the founding Director, Ernest Llewellyn CBE. He told me that the School was founded on the Julliard model, that is, to turn out degree qualified musicians of high quality who were also world quality platform musicians and experts in pedagogy. He saw it necessary to produce both academics and performers in the one graduate.
The School did just that during all the time I was associated with it. But Mr Llewellyn warned in about 1974 or 1975, that to merge with the ANU was a bad idea as it would inevitably lead to a change in direction; that the concert performer aspect would disappear and only academics would be produced. How prophetic he was!
The absorption into the ANU has seen a clear departure from the vision of Llewellyn and his patron the Right Honourable Doug Anthony, then Minister for the Interior.
The emergence of the Wig and Pen opportunity further distances the School from the vision. The ANU has clearly said that it is not going to be the guardian of the performing arts, a high world reputation enjoyed by the School. It is telling the School, if you want to survive, go commercial.
You can’t blame either the Wig and Pen or the School for jumping into the sack for mutual benefit. The arrangement will reap opportunities for both. But at what cost?
Once, Canberra was proud of its commitment to the arts, produced world standard musicians and music teachers. It led for a time the emergence of electronic music. But now? Dump the performer/teacher staff and concentrate of the theoretical . and embrace crass commercialism!
Each of these organisations is of high standard in their particular speciality. But they should not confuse each other’s cohort nor try to combine each other’s cohort. They have completely different patrons.
Once the School brought the classics to the ordinary Canberran.
Once, the Wig and Pen introduced Canberrans to classical brewing.
Good luck to both but perhaps the marriage will founder with Canberra getting less than the sum of the parts and not greater than the sum of the parts.
Tears before bedtime, me thinks. Enough to drive one to drink and drown in the pools of Puccini!