27 February 2009
Sculthorpe's $3.5m endowment to Sydney Conservatorium
Composer Peter Sculthorpe, who will turn 80 this April, has astonished the nation by his multi-million dollar donation to the University of Sydney. The $3.5 million endowment is earmarked for establishing a Chair of Australian Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where Sculthorpe himself taught composition from 1963 until the late 1990s.
According to the composer, the new Chair should retain a 'flexible and fluid approach' to Australian music.
'There definitely should be some emphasis on Australasian and Pacific regions, but it is also important that coming generations have the opportunity to experiment and reach out to all manner of influences,' Sculthorpe stated.
Composer Anne Boyd, Professor of Music at the University of Sydney, praised the endowment as 'an act of extraordinary generosity'.
'This will be the first named Chair of Australian Music in any University and signifies a special coming of age in our nation’s musical and cultural life,' she said. 'It will ensure in a very special and exciting way that creativity, research and teaching in Australian music will continue to flourish and to hold a very significant place in Australia’s first University and its Faculty of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In the process of articulating a musical identity for himself and for our nation, Peter Sculthorpe’s deeply original contribution to music in Australia is of towering and international significance.'
Sculthorpe's music will be performed in numerous concerts around the time of his birthday (29 April). One of the highlights will be a concert performance at the Canberra International Music Festival of his opera Rites of Passage (1973), originally commissioned for the opening of the Sydney Opera House.
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