New innovative national music school to boost the role of Muswellbrook as a key regional education centre

THE establishment of a new independent primary school, in partnership with the highly-respected music educator Richard Gill AO, was unveiled by Muswellbrook Shire Council on Monday.

The Muswellbrook Richard Gill National Music Academy will be an independent K-6 primary school driven by Mr Gill’s strong guiding philosophy, with music and physical education as cornerstones of the curriculum.

An independent board has been formed to oversee the establishment of the school and council welcomed the school’s chair Kim Williams AM to the region.

It is proposed that the new school will occupy the current site of the Muswellbrook Shire Council Administration Centre. 

Council has started discussions to progress the proposed relocation of its Administration Centre and the conversion of the site to the home of the specialised music education school.

Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said it was an exciting opportunity building on council’s strategy to promote Muswellbrook as a centre for education.

“Richard Gill is an inspirational educator and his philosophy will be embedded in the curriculum, providing access to an extraordinary educational experience,” he explained.

“We’re so privileged that he’s keen to share his vision with us – and place his confidence in our town.

“It’s such a good fit.

“Our thanks go to Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music director Dr Wendy Brooks, too.

“She was certainly instrumental in this project.

“Council recognises the opportunity for regional students to take part in a unique school where creativity takes a central role alongside science, technology and mathematics.

“A National School of Music Education will not only provide specialist teacher training for a new generation of music educators in a realistic training environment for deployment to schools across Australia, but will have an enormously positive consequential impact for our community as it positions itself for the future.”

As a passionate advocate for music education, Mr Gill continues to inspire those around him.

He was founding Music Director and Conductor Emeritus of Victorian Opera and is one of Australia’s pre-eminent and most admired conductors specialising in opera, musical theatre and vocal and choral training and is internationally respected as a music educator.

His work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them is recognised world-wide.

Mr Gill has been Artistic Director of the Education Program for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of OzOpera, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Advisor for the Musica Viva Education program.

He is currently Music Director of Sydney Chamber Choir, Artistic Director of the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) and is the Founder and Director of the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program.

“I believe a structured program of primary school music education based on singing, moving and creating, has benefits for all areas of children’s learning and I believe every child should have access to quality music education, delivered by trained and educated music teachers in a school that will also offer the highest quality demonstration and practicum experiences for trainee music teachers,” Mr Gill said.

“It is clear that Muswellbrook Shire Council is making significant investments in educational facilities, partnered with universities on multiple projects.

“This school will complement and strengthen these initiatives that include the infrastructure at the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music and council’s development of a 500-seat performance centre.”

A school board has been formed to move the initiative forward with Mr Williams providing a breadth of governance, experience and leadership in the new school.

“I am honoured to be sharing the vision that Richard Gill passionately advocates with the Upper Hunter and I look forward to working closely with council and the community as we establish what will be a unique creative school for regional NSW and indeed as an example to all Australians,” he said.

“It’s certainly a terrific thing for Muswellbrook, being home to a quality national institution.

“Music will be a central element in daily education.

“And, I’m expecting a flood of applications from students and teachers alike.”

Dr Brooks was equally excited.

“Richard shared his vision of the school with me a couple of years ago,” she said.

“So, it’s great the national music academy is now coming to fruition.

“I’m just elated it’s happening here at Muswellbrook.”

Work is currently underway to register the school and, subject to a successful registration and business planning process, it is anticipated the school will begin operations in 2020 with a small cohort of students from years K-3.

This is the beginning of this process and further information will be provided to interested members of the community as the registration and curriculum development process continues.

It is anticipated that the school will grow into a high school in future years.

Richard Gill AO

RICAHRD Gill, AO, Founding Music Director and Conductor Emeritus of Victorian Opera, is one of Australia’s pre-eminent and most admired conductors specialising in opera, musical theatre and vocal and choral training and is internationally respected as a music educator.

His work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them is recognised world-wide.

Mr Gill has been Artistic Director of the Education Program for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of OzOpera, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Advisor for the Musica Viva Education program.

He is currently Music Director of Sydney Chamber Choir, Artistic Director of the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) and is the Founder and Director of the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program.

Most recently, Mr Gill has had the honour of being appointed to a personal chair.

The international law firm, King & Wood Mallesons, has endowed a chair in music education at the Conservatorium High School, secondary arm of the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. Richard is the inaugural King & Wood Mallesons Conservatorium Chair in Music Education.

This year he continues his associations with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Ears Wide Open, Sydney Chamber Choir, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for Unwrap the Music, Taipei American School as the Joanna Nichols Performing Artist in Residence, and the Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne as well as continuing in his role as a mentor and music educator to young musicians, teachers and many community groups in Australia.

In 2012, Mr Gill’s memoirs “Give Me Excess of It”, described by Pan Macmillan as “warm, extremely funny, highly opinionated, occasionally rude (where warranted) and always sublimely full of the love of music”, were published.

His work in the concert hall is extensive and includes concerts with all the major Australian orchestras, Sydney Philharmonia, Canberra Symphony Orchestra as well as the Australian, Sydney, and Western Australian Youth Orchestras.

For the Sydney Symphony, he regularly conducted their Meet the Music concerts, Discovery concerts with the Sydney Symphony Sinfonia, and Sinfonietta concerts.

He has held several other important posts including Dean of the West Australian Conservatorium of Music (1985-1990) and Director of Chorus at The Australian Opera (1990-1996) and has received numerous accolades during the course of his career, including an Order of Australia Medal, the Bernard Heinze Award for Services to Music in Australia, an Honorary Doctorate from the Edith Cowan University of Western Australia for his service to Australian music and musicians, an Hon. Doc. (ACU), and the Australian Music Centre’s award for ‘Most Distinguished Contribution to the Presentation of Australian Composition by an Individual’.

Mr Gill is also the recipient of the prestigious Don Banks Award 2006 by the Australia Council and the 2014 APRA Art Music Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music.

Kim Williams AM

KIM illiams AM has had a long involvement in the arts, entertainment and media industries in Australia and overseas and has held various executive leadership positions since the late 1970s including as Chief Executive at each of News Corp Australia, FOXTEL, Fox Studios Australia, the Australian Film Commission, Southern Star Entertainment and Musica Viva Australia and also as a senior executive at the ABC.

He is an experienced executive, communicator and leader having established numerous large enterprises and driven extensive change management programs in operational and in policy environments effectively.

He has been a spirited leader of large workforces and served on many boards. 

Prior to his period at NewsCorp Australia, Mr Williams was the Chief Executive of FOXTEL for the decade up until November 2011.

Preceding the FOXTEL CEO position, he was the inaugural CEO at FOX Studios Australia.

In that period he was successful in attracting many major international productions to base themselves from Australia including the three Matrix films, the last two epics in George Lucas’ Star Wars series and Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible 2.

A raft of Australian productions also took place at the studios led by Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

The studio provides a working environment for over three dozen independent Australian production services and facility businesses and has been central to securing a strong future for the Australian film and television production industry internationally.

Before the AFC, Mr Williams led Musica Viva Australia – the largest chamber music organisation in the world - through its fastest and most substantial period of growth and expansion into extensive education initiatives.

Preceding Musica Viva he led other arts initiatives and worked as an active participant in a variety of creative and programming roles in Australia and Europe. 

Mr Williams has also held numerous board positions (and chairmanships) in commercial and public life over more than three decades including as Chairman of the Australian Film Finance Corporation; Chairman of MCN – the subscription television industry’s major advertising sales company; Chairman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and of Musica Viva Australia; Chairman of FOX Sports and most recently as the Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust from 2005 until 2013.

Over the period from 2011 until he left News Corp Australia, he led the Regulatory Reform Taskforce of the Business Council of Australia advocating substantial change in the approach to public policy in the arena. 

Mr Williams was appointed as a Member in the Order of Australia in June 2006 for his services to the arts and public policy formulation in the arts and film and television industries.

In October 2009 he was awarded a Doctorate of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Macquarie University for his contribution to the arts and entertainment industry in Australia and internationally.

He is a previous recipient of the Richard Pratt Business Arts Leadership Award from the Australian Business Arts Foundation and the Australian Writers Guild’s Dorothy Crawford Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession.  

At the invitation of the AFL Commission, Mr Williams became a Commissioner of the Australian Football League from March 2014.

He now also serves in a wide variety of commercial and pro bono roles including as the Chair of Vidcorp, the Copyright Agency; Cranlana Programme and the NSW State Library Foundation; he is also a current board member of the Myer Foundation;  Executive Channel International, Wine Australia; and Myer Family Investments.

He became a trustee of the international news agency Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company in 2016, deputy chair in 2017 and chairman in 2018.  

This story Icon Richard Gill’s vision comes to the fore in Upper Hunter | PHOTOS first appeared on Hunter Valley News.