ACT News


Final act as clarinet maestro bows out

For 27 years, Alan Vivian has provided world-class music education in the clarinet for generations of Australian National University School of Music students.

Now it's time to say goodbye.

Professor Vivian, who has been principal clarinet with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and who has also performed as guest principal clarinet with the BBC Symphony in London and with the Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, is taking a voluntary redundancy alongside 10 of his esteemed colleagues.

''No regrets. This is a chance to move on,'' he said.

Whether it is to a ''life on the road, as a gun for hire or sailing around the world,'' Professor Vivian has yet to make up his mind.

Students, meanwhile, are heartbroken.


The job losses are part of a $1.5 million cost-saving restructure of the ANU's School of Music to make courses more vocational and less performance-based.

Friends of the School of Music, a fund-raising body which supports and promotes alumni and staff, has organised a concert next Tuesday which may be the last opportunity to hear from some of the outgoing staff.

It may also present one of the last precious opportunities for students to perform with their mentors, many of whom drew them to study at the ANU in the first place.

Professor Vivian will lead the Childers Street String Quartet in a movement of the Brahms clarinet quintet.

Third-year violinist Tobias Chisnall said students were devastated by Professor Vivian's departure.

''He is a superstar of the clarinet. This is a tragedy.''

Christine Goode, president of the Friends association, said while it was tragic Canberra was facing the loss of some of its most esteemed classical musicians, the concert would be a ''bright spot'' within the sadness.

''We, like the rest of the community have found the change, and the loss of such fine musicians distressing,'' Ms Goode said.

''But the students are still there, they have this year and perhaps future years to go, and we want to keep supporting those students.''

The Friends of the SOM has been operating for 30 years, using membership fees, donations and concert proceeds to provide financial support, scholarships and prizes for students and staff.

Two concerts will be held, next Tuesday, and on Tuesday, September 25.

Next week's line up includes six staff and 18 students. ''They will show off the wonderful talent at the school, and we hope people will show their support of the School of Music by coming along,'' Ms Goode said.