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Louise Bennet
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Mary Vallentine AO, one of Australia’s most distinguished arts administrators, is the recipient of the 2016 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award.

The award, presented annually by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and a committee that includes membership from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), was presented to Vallentine during the ‘MSO Plays Tchaikovsky’ Concert at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on Friday, 17 March.

Professor Gary McPherson, Ormond Chair of Music and Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, said Ms Vallentine’s sustained contribution to arts administration in Australia spoke for itself.

“Among her many credits, as CEO of the Melbourne Recital Centre from 2010 to 2016, she championed diverse programming and deep collaboration with Melbourne’s music community, with a sustained focus on building both audiences and philanthropic support.  We are delighted to be able to honour Mary in this way,” he said.

Mary Vallentine’s arts administration career has lasted more than 30 years.  A graduate in music and drama from the University of Sydney and UNSW, she worked with the Australian Council for the Arts and Musica Viva Australia before becoming Administrator of the Adelaide Festival (1978-82) then General Manager of the State Theatre Company of SA (1982-4).  She was Managing Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 2003 and managed the divestment of the orchestra from the ABC to become an independent company.

She undertook a series of arts consultancies for the Australian Dance Theatre, Victorian Opera Company and New Zealand Symphony between 2003 and 2005 before working as Director of Production Services in Doha for the 2006 Asian Games Ceremonies. She joined Musica Viva as Director of Business Development in 2009.

She received an Award in the Order of Australia for services to music in 1996.  She is Chair of The Australian Youth Orchestra, a Board Member of the Malthouse Theatre and director of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

Sir Bernard Heinze was one of the major pioneers of orchestral musical life in Australia. He was also the Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne for 31 years. In honour of his memory, the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award is made annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to music in Australia.

Recipients of the prestigious Bernard Heinze award include Maestro Richard Bonynge, composer Carl Vine, pianist Stephen McIntyre, singer Yvonne Kenny, composer Peter Sculthorpe, conductor John Hopkins, horn player Barry Tuckwell, violinist Richard Tognetti, conductor and composer Brett Dean, conductor Simone Young and music educator Sir Frank Callaway.