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New HSC music program puts Australian composers centre stage

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Led by the International Research Centre for Youth Futures with the participation of composers including Ross Edwards and Elena Kats-Chernin, the MusEd program will bring alive for senior school music students their requirement to study contemporary (from the past 15 years) Australian compositions.

It gives first-hand insight into the process of composition, but will also look at the way musicians interpret a work, thanks to the involvement of UTS’s ensemble in residence the Australia Piano Quartet (APQ).

MusEd was launched at the Sydney Opera House in a concert attended by students and teachers from a wide spectrum of high schools, at which the APQ premiered a UTS-commissioned work by Ross Edwards, Sea Star Dances. The concert program also included works by Elena Kats-Chernin, Lachlan Skipworth and Jack Symonds.

The core component of MusEd is a resource kit incorporating sequential lesson plans, repertoire, video tutorials and techniques in performance, listening and composition. It is supported by workshops led by UTS educators for both teachers and students with the opportunity to interact with composers and members of the APQ.

Well-known music educators Robyn Staveley and Peta Harper helped design MusEd to make teaching and learning contemporary Australian repertoire accessible and inspiring for young musicians.

"This program provides it all; from all the teaching materials and how to teach them, to opportunities to speak to the composers and players of a professional, small ensemble," Robyn Staveley said. "This will be a great kick start for the deep immersion into Australian repertoire."

Peta Harper said the reaction of students to studying contemporary art music can often be, "Ugh, I hate this music".

"But, when they get the chance to understand it by experiencing it, they get excited and it opens up a whole new world of contemporary music to them," she said.

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