Head of ANU School of Music steps down

Ian Bushnell 21 January 2019

Professor Ken Lampl: proud of his achievements as Head of the School of Music. File photo.

The Australian National University has confirmed that the School of Music is again searching for a new head after the decision by Professor Ken Lampl to step down and focus on teaching.

The ANU said Professor Lampl’s decision to step down after only two years into the role was his own, and the University was ‘delighted to retain Professor Lampl’s exceptional vision, talent and wealth of composition experience as an academic and teacher’.

An interim Head of School would be appointed shortly.

The resignation throws the School into another period of uncertainty after a disastrous restructure that slashed budgets and staff under Vice-Chancellor Ian Young, the sudden departure of former Head Peter Tregear in 2015 and the subsequent 2016 Podger review which found the School suffered a climate of distrust, emotional stress, poor management and falling standards.

It had called for an overhaul of governance, academic direction, financial management, culture and its role in the community.

A key recommendation included appointing a head of school “for a substantial fixed period to lead the change process”.

More recently the School has had to weather the storm over the axing of the H-Course secondary school program after the ACT Government redirected funding.

Professor Lampl, a Juilliard School graduate and former teacher, was appointed in 2017 after an 18 month period without a permanent head.

He said in a statement that he was proud of his achievements, including boosting enrolments, but he was a composer first.

“The reason I came to the ANU was to build a Composition for Film and Video Game Program and to be a part of the growing film and video game industry in Australia as a professional composer,” he said.

“I am particularly excited to be returning to my main passion and focus at ANU: teaching the art of film and video game composition, and developing new and innovative techniques to be applied to 21st-century technologies in film, television and video gaming.”

He said during his time as Head, student enrolments increased by 148 per cent, more than $200,000 was raised to go towards scholarships and other student support, and he had established many valuable partnerships with business and industry.

But all the while he had kept composing, working with some of Australia’s most outstanding film directors, creating original music for them.

He also oversaw the building of the School’s recording studio, collaborated with rock band Foreigner and composed the Canberra Cavalry baseball team song.

“As the School of Music grew so did the demand for my time as composer in the film and game industry,” he said.

“I have built a career as a film composer and my academic career has been focused on sharing my knowledge with students, mentoring them and preparing them for a career in music. We teach by example and that can only happen by being an active practitioner of the art.”

Professor Lampl said that composing for film and video games was an emerging and exciting career option in an industry that was growing exponentially.

“The ANU will lead the industry in delivering fresh new composers with the skills the industry needs. I thank the University for this opportunity,” he said.


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