ACT News


Canberra musician to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra

Canberra based violinist and festival director Christopher Latham will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra next week.

Mr Latham, who is perhaps best known as the former artistic director of the Canberra International Music Festival, said he was delighted to receive the recognition.  

"It is very moving when you are rewarded by your colleagues and it's nice to know what you do means a lot to others," he said.

Mr Latham is the musical director of the Gallipoli Symphony, a 10-year project with some of Australia's most famous composers that documents the role of music in warfare.

"When you read diaries from World War I you realise there is a lot of singing at the end of the day as music is an important way to recover from trauma and war," he said.

"It's really about celebrating the fact you have these ancient enemies who have found mutual respect and forged a significant friendship."


Mr Latham arrived in Canberra in 2008 and worked with academics at the university's architecture department for five years.

"I've been in Canberra for seven years and when I arrived Braddon was just car lots but now it's the centre of hipster culture in the city," he said.

"Artists always lived there as it was close to the city and we were under the radar but now the mushrooms have popped up and everything can be seen."

Mr Latham  travelled the world as a musician with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in the 1990s.

"The festival is a great thing for Canberra to have as it is one of the most important music festivals in the art music scene in Australia," he said.

"It could be an asset for Canberra to attract tourists as it is part of a blooming cultural scene in Canberra, an artistic renaissance if you will."

Mr Latham will spend his next four years as an Anzac Fellow researching the music and art of World War I, while also taking on a reciprocal role with the French Government.

"I'm going to create a series of concerts called 'The flowers of war' that will explore how music sustains the human spirit in a time of war," he said.

While working with senior lecturer Ann Cleary at the university, Mr Lathan showcased music in interesting architectural spaces around Canberra and won the Australian Institute of Architects Clem Cummins Medal.

"It was a cross-arts collaboration that brought spaces to life in a way that hasn't been done before. It was like hearing architecture rather than seeing it," he said.

Mr Latham had a few parting pieces of advice for his former students and those seeking a new challenge in their lives.  

"Pay great attention to what captures your imagination. Trust your curiosity – it will lead you towards an interesting working life," he said.