Ken Lampl named as new boss of ANU School of Music

Ken Lampl named as new boss of ANU School of Music

ANU has announced composer Ken Lampl as its new head of music, following a nearly 18-month search and a damning review of the school released last year.

Professor Lampl, who joined ANU last year, is a former faculty member of the Juilliard School in New York and has composed music for more than 70 films, TV shows and video games.

Professor Ken Lampl has been named as the new head of ANU's School of Music.

Professor Ken Lampl has been named as the new head of ANU's School of Music.Credit:Stuart Hay Australian National University

"I could not be more thrilled," Professor Lampl told The Canberra Times after the announcement on Thursday.

"It's an incredible opportunity to be part of a top ranked university and to be part of a school that is going to be one of the world's leading musical institutions."


He takes on the role at a challenging time.

Last year, an independent review found the school was plagued by a legacy of distrust, emotional stress, years of poor management and sliding academic standards.

The six-month consultation project, led by former public service commissioner Andrew Podger, called for an overhaul of governance, staff culture and financial management at the school.

Professor Lampl said it was crucial to keep these lessons in mind as he focused on building the school's reputation.

"One of the things we want to keep in perspective is that the blueprint for the future is the Podger report," he said.

Tenor Paul McMahon has been appointed as Professor Lampl's deputy. He stressed the importance of strong leadership following difficult times.

"This is a crucial time for the school," Dr McMahon said.

"I am proud to be working with Ken Lampl to meet the opportunities presented in the report of Andrew Podger last year, which were built upon extensive community consultation.

"We know what the university, the community and the profession expect from the school."

Tony Henshaw, president of the Friends of the School of Music ANU, welcomed the appointment of a permanent head as a strong, stabilising influence on the school.

Professor Lampl and Dr McMahon were two very capable people in key positions, Mr Henshaw said.

The deputy head position is a first for the school. Mr Henshaw sees the instalment of Dr McMahon in the role as a cultural balance to the appointment of Dr Lampl.

"Those two people balance both kinds of, I'll call it the new music approach, digital composition, on Ken's side, and classical and jazz on Paul's side," he said.

He said Professor Lampl had a "famous musical pedigree", while Dr McMahon had been through the school's difficult period and was "a rock for other staff and students during that time".

Of the lengthy search for a new head, Mr Henshaw said the ANU had been in a difficult position until new funds were committed by ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC last year.

"But having made that commitment, there's the resources there for the school to get onto the job in building itself into an institution with an international reputation," he said.

"The Friends of the School of Music are really excited to be able to help rebuild the school, and we'll be doing everything we can to make sure the two new appointments are successful."

The School of Music has been without a permanent head since August 2015 when Professor Peter Tregear left.

Alan Lourens, the head of the University of Western Australia School of Music, was offered the top job in November but declined.

In a statement on Thursday, Professor Schmidt said Professor Lampl would continue to teach students while head of the school, and Dr McMahon would continue work on the performance program.

With Alexandra Back

Steven Trask is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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