UTS launches MusEd live at the Sydney Opera House!
The UTS International Research Centre for Youth Futures has launched their new project MusEd, an exciting and serendipitous conjunction of UTS music educators and the Australia Piano Quartet, UTS's ensemble in residence. The project introduces senior school music students to contemporary Australian composers and their works, which they need to study to meet HSC requirements and is designed to be easily integrated into Music Teachers’ instruction of the Music 1, Music 2 and Music Extension syllabuses. The course is also relevant to Stage 5 music courses. The project includes a print resource for teachers and student workshops and professionally accredited workshops for teachers.
According to MusEd Director, Professor Rosemary Johnston “the project is about bringing music, and composers, and performers, and young people together – and in so doing expanding thinking and inspiring new ways of thinking, and adding depth and sound to those mindscapes”. The Centre for Youth Futures has worked with the Australian Piano Quartet for years, including on the UTS Kids' Proms – both at Kuring-gai and in the city, in creative collaboratoriums, and on the centre’s Sky High project for disadvantaged schools. The centre is committed to both excellence and equity in education, creating a music education experience for young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate with real musicians in chamber music.
The project launch took place last Friday in the Utzon Room of the Sydney Opera House, with a lecture given by the renowned composer Ross Edwards, followed by a concert featuring the works of Elena Kats-Chernin, Jane Sheldon, Lachlan Skipworth and Jack Symond,s as well as the world premiere performance of Ross Edwards’ new work, Sea Star Dances, commissioned by the Australian Piano Quartet. For students in attendance, this presented not only the opportunity to see Contemporary Australian Art Music performed in a live, intimate setting, but also the unique opportunity to interact with the composers and musicians. Each piece was introduced by its composer, who explained the idea behind the piece and something of the structure to students, providing them with things to look out for in the works as they were performed.
A highlight of the concert was Jess Irwin’s performance of Jane Sheldon’s work Testimony II: Saltair, alongside the Australian Piano Quartet. The performance showed how technology is constantly evolving and can be used to create art and also to bring people together.
Jess, who was born with cerebral palsy, treated the audience to a demonstration of a newly developed instrument. The instrument uses eye tracking technology to enable Jess to play by selecting from a set of preprogrammed sounds, allowing her to freely improvise her performance and meaning that each performance of the piece is new and unique.
The value of such an experience cannot be understated, as it is one thing to learn about such music in a classroom setting, but it is an entirely other thing to be able to immerse one’s self in a performance and experience music in a live setting. The work of the Centre for Youth Futures makes it possible for more young people to expand their horizons and broaden their minds by experiencing the transformative and profound power of the human spirit expressed through music first hand.