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Internationally acclaimed Australian Indigenous soprano, Deborah Cheetham, has been appointed Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts at the Faculty of the VCA and Music, University of Melbourne. The Wilin Centre supports Australian Indigenous students at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

In a celebration of Music Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, the graduating students from the VCA are presenting West Side Story, Thursday September 8th to Sunday September 18th 2011 at Space 28, VCA Performing Arts building, 28 Dodd Street, Southbank.

Internationally acclaimed Australian Indigenous soprano, Deborah Cheetham, has been appointed Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts at the Faculty of the VCA and Music, University of Melbourne.

Research into music performance using the clarinet and a laptop computer has won a $20,000 Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch 2011 Travelling Fellowship, worth $20,000, for University of Melbourne student Samuel Dunscombe.

Internationally respected conductor Simone Young has been chosen as the recipient of the 2011 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to music in Australia.

Giftedness in child musicians is a delicate balance of learned behaviour and personal pre-disposition, according to a University of Melbourne music education researcher, who will explain his views to the audience of fourteen-year-old pianist Tiffany Poon at the Melbourne Recital Centre next Tuesday.

The Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music at the University of Melbourne, Professor Barry Conyngham, has enthusiastically welcomed the allocation in yesterday’s state budget of $24 million to support arts education at the VCA.

Professor Conyngham said the fulfillment of the promise made by the Premier would allow VCA to “do the job we want to do”.

The funding committed in the 2011-12 Victorian Budget is for $6 million a year over four years.

It will deliver a range of practical initiatives to provide career pathways for students, including:
•    improved infrastructure at the VCA's Southbank campus
•    graduate opera and music theatre programs in conjunction with industry
•    scholarships to attract outstanding talent
•    a regional training program
•    a master teachers' series that will bring the best international expertise to the VCA.

It was a “large grant to the University specifically for VCA to enable us to continue studio teaching, develop new programs and new ways of connecting with the people of Victoria,” he said.

“The budget (announcement) is very much about fulfilling the promise of Victoria being the arts state of the country and also of making the VCA the arts institute, the jewel in the crown, of arts education in Australia.

“The future now looks fantastically bright for arts in Victoria, not only because of the VCA grant, but because of other initiatives which to me indicate that this is going to be a government interested in developing the arts, ensuring that Melbourne and Victoria remain the leaders in this area,” he said.

VCA Director Professor Su Baker also welcomed the budget announcement, saying it was a great day for VCA, and its staff and students and many supporters “who have believed there should be such a place as the VCA.”

“The broad public support for VCA over the last 12 months has indicated that if there wasn’t such a place we would have to invent it,” Professor Baker. “The grant is a wonderful support base for the future and so we’re extremely grateful.”

Peter Garrett, Federal Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, will launch a new documentary film about the vital role that music education plays in enriching lives at the Centre for Music, Mind and Wellbeing (CMMW) at the University of Melbourne tomorrow, 5 May.

Melbourne academic Dr Katrina McFerran has joined the team at ‘Aardvark’, a community organisation bringing together legends of Australian pop and rock music to help young people with chronic illness record a CD, and flourish creatively.

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