Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music

The Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music opened in 1964 as the Tasmanian School of Music, changing its name a year later. Major directors have been Rex Hobcroft (196472), Jan Sedivka (197282), Professor David Cubbin (198589), composer Don Kay (199095) and Professor Douglas Knehans (2000). Each was associated with a key development.

Hobcroft established the school with strong community bonds, and set its direction as a Conservatorium of Music rather than an academic department. Sedivka gave the Conservatorium national importance through establishing a tradition of excellence in string pedagogy, and creating the Petra String Quartet, which fostered support for Australian composers through a commissioning programme. Sedivka also established a Conservatorium orchestra and choir. Cubbin was responsible for the largest enrolment period in the late 1980s, a turbulent period ending with dramatic budget cuts resulting in a deterioration of earlier strong enrolments and discontinuation of the Petra String Quartet as an ensemble-in-residence. Don Kay saw the Conservatorium enfolded into the University and move to larger premises.

Since 2000 the school has seen expanded academic programmes including post-graduate research, and the creation of the Southern Gospel Choir, Wrest Point Conservatorium Big Band, Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Conservatorium Chamber Soloists, Esperance Trio, a resident staff piano trio and partnerships with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and IHOS Opera. Outreach programmes include the Young Conservatorium, Winter String School, summer and pre-tertiary programmes.

Innovation has been constant, from Hobcroft's commissioning of Australian operas, to novel student music theatre works staged through collaboration with IHOS Opera. Conservatorium graduates occupy many key positions in symphony orchestras and tertiary music schools around Australia and overseas, and graduates have had success with performances, recordings and broadcasts throughout the world.

Further reading: L Edmiston & L Stemler, Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, [Hobart], 1990.

Douglas Knehans