The sun shines in Australia

The sun shines in Australia


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2010

The imbroglio – wonderful word, reminiscent of Dutch masters and Borgia Popes – let me start that sentence again.

The imbroglio that has been festering around Melbourne’s Recital Centre inestimably beautiful recital centre has finally been tackled by its political overlords.The chief executive, Jacques de Vos Malan, has departed only three months into his second contract and a sage pair of hands, Joe Carponi, has been hauled out of retirement to deal with the financial deficit.

Malan’s contract was renewed, I was told, because the politicians did not want to admit to a terrible mistake. The Centre had been losing money and Malan’s solution was to turn it from a well-planned concert environment into an open-for-hire garage.

I reported the troubles here and the Age has taken up the story (see here), reflecting a growing public concern. The Arts Minister Lynne Kosky resigned last week and the chairman Jim Cousins will step down in March. A clean sweep is on the cards.

The only 21st century chamber music hall in the southern hemisphere, Melbourne has been, until now, an opportunity missed. The board promises an ‘international search’ for a new chief executive. I hope they search harder than the Sydney Opera, which barely made an international phone call last time it sought a boss. I have three top candidates Melbourne ought to be considering if they want the centre to succeed.

Meantime, the right move has been made. There is a chance of light and beauty to shine beneath the antipodean sun. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who endowed the hall, should be satisfied with the outcome. 


  • Elissa Milne says:

    How do you define ’21st century chamber music hall’?
    I kind of thought we had a nice one in Sydney (Angel Place City Recital Hall), but maybe it missed some of the 21st century criteria by opening a few months too soon??? Or does it fail on some other (architectural???) grounds?
    NL replies: Built in the 21st century, technologically flexible. Sydney narrowly missed, I think, on both counts.