Welcome to the new Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium

Dr Richard Kurth_Sav Schulman_2019
Dr Richard Kurth joins the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he was the Director, School of Music, from 2007 to 2018. Image: Sav Schulman

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Melbourne welcomes a new Director to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Dr Richard Kurth.

He joins the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he was the Director, School of Music, from 2007 to 2018. Prior to joining UBC in 1994, he was Faculty Lecturer at McGill University and Assistant Professor at the University of Western Ontario. He completed his doctoral thesis in music theory at Harvard University in 1993.

Dr Kurth said he was “thrilled” to join the University of Melbourne, and that the newly-opened Ian Potter Southbank Centre (IPSC) was one of many major draw cards.

The IPSC is the pinnacle of the University’s $200 million Southbank campus transformation, and it sees more than 1000 Conservatorium students and staff co-located with their colleagues and peers at the Victorian College of the Arts.

“The Ian Potter Southbank Centre sets a new international standard as a training facility for musicians and researchers, while situating the majority of our staff and students in the heart of Melbourne’s thriving Arts Precinct,”  Dr Kurth said.

“It’s an astounding building with world-class features, and a truly remarkable place to work.

“While we continue to teach, perform and conduct research at our existing facilities at the University’s Parkville campus, including the Conservatorium’s historical home in Melba Hall, our new facilities in Southbank allow for all manner of new artistic and research possibilities with our colleagues in the Victorian College of the Arts, our partners in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. These are progressive times.”

Faculty of Fine Arts and Music Dean Barry Conyngham said Dr Kurth’s appointment was “yet another exciting development for the Faculty”.

“While we are rightly proud of the amazing new facilities on campus and the possibilities they provide for our staff and students, I have always been of the view that people are our most important assets,”  Professor Conyngham said.

“A scholar and leader of Dr Kurth’s considerable standing will only add to the world-class reputation of the Melbourne Conservatorium.”

Citing the Conservatorium’s “distinguished academic staff and talented students, its superb new facilities, and opportunities for collaboration across all art forms,” Dr Kurth said he views the Conservatorium as “the most exciting place in the entire world for artistic training and musical performance, and for research into every aspect of human musical experience”.

Dr Kurth also praised the Conservatorium’s focus on industry partnerships as one of many ways students and researchers benefit from their time at the University.

“Being located in the Arts Precinct brings us shoulder to shoulder with many of our important arts industry partners,” he said.

“For example, our two-year Master of Music in Orchestral Performance, initiated last year in collaboration with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, is already an important new component of our training regime.

“And recently the Sidney Myer University Trust has made possible an extraordinary new five-year collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), through a $1 million partnership that sees the University recognised as the ACO’s Official University Partner and will facilitate all manner of artistic performance and research collaborations.

“We are mindful that our study and work takes place in a constantly changing world, and we aspire to continue evolving as a Conservatorium in terms of the range of professional training we offer and our pursuit of excellence, balancing tradition and innovation.

“What draws me most to the Conservatorium is its long and accomplished history, and all the outstanding musicians and scholars, past, present, and emerging, who have built and sustained it through their talent, passion, and commitment. This is a remarkable institution and an extraordinary community, and I feel very fortunate to be working with all its stakeholders to shape its vibrant and vigorous future.”

Dr Kurth takes over from Ormond Professor Gary McPherson, who has been Director since 2009.

Speaking of his predecessor, who will stay on at the Melbourne Conservatorium, Dr Kurth said: “I offer my sincerest congratulations and I salute Professor McPherson for the incredible work he has accomplished at the helm, and the giant leaps the Conservatorium has taken under his leadership.

"We owe him enormous gratitude, and I personally look forward to working with Gary in the years ahead. He is an exceptional scholar, a generous colleague, and a truly inspiring role model.

This article originally appeared on the University of Melbourne Newsroom on 1 August 2019.