ACT News


Canberra the big loser if music cuts go ahead

The Canberra community would be the big loser if proposed cuts to the Canberra School of Music went ahead, chief executive of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra Henry Laska said yesterday.

His opinion was echoed by the head of the school's keyboard section, Arnan Wiesel, who said the cuts would make Canberra the only capital in the Western world that would not have a performing music school.

They said many organisations would no longer have talented musicians attracted to Canberra by the School of Music.

Mr Wiesel said about 15 community organisations benefited from the students. And there were many government receptions and embassy functions which depended on student performances.

It is understood of 27 concerts in this month's Canberra International Music Festival, 21 will include students from the School of Music.

The ANU Students Association is planning a music day at the ANU on Thursday and a rally on May 14 to protest against the proposed change.


The association's president, Dallas Proctor, said the ANU's other courses were world-class and music should retain that status. If the proposed teaching method was adopted, no competent musician would come to Canberra. They would opt for one-on-one teaching elsewhere.

Mr Wiesel is among 32 staff from the school whose jobs are to be spilled and replaced by only about half that number. ''According to the proposal, we don't have jobs at the moment,'' he said.

The replacement of one-on-one teaching with a broader program would not give students the basic foundation of knowledge of their instruments.

Mr Laska was particularly critical of the change.

''Music requires one-on-one teaching with fantastic teachers to get the best out of a student,'' he said.

Under the proposed change to the school's curriculum, it was unlikely students would be trained to a suitable standard where they could perform in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, he said.

The orchestra was essentially the industry partner with the ANU but had not been consulted about the cuts.

Mr Wiesel said the ANU would say it was still striving for excellence but the curriculum would be so different that it would be difficult to see people interested in performing coming to the school.