Timeline 3: Newcastle Conservatorium of Music

50th Anniversary of University Education in Newcastle: 1951-2001

Timeline 3: From Newcastle Branch Of The State Conservatorium Of New South Wales To Newcastle Conservatorium Of Music

In a nutshell:

  1. Tin Shack in Civic Park
  2. The Cultural Centre (1957 – 1980)
  3. The People’s Palace (1980 – 1986)
  4. ( Amalgamation with University of Newcastle 1989

A music education was to be had overseas.

Music education as a tertiary study introduced in Australia at the University of Adelaide with the Elder Chair of Music.

6th May 1915
New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music Established in Sydney.

Newcastle had a fledging musical scene consisting of amateur brass bands and other musical ensembles springing from the industrial background of the city.

Prior to 1947
The dreams are on the march. Rev. Harold Marshall forms liaison committee to discuss a Conservatorium in Newcastle. Mark Howarth, Myra Thomson and Douglas McDougall formed committee to raise finance to build a composite centre embracing the Arts. Frank Hutchens and Harold Lobb begin conversations concerning a Newcastle Branch of the State Conservatorium.

Lobb’s motto (from Joel) becomes:


Frank Hutchens

Mr Frank Hutchens.
Piano Teacher, composer and one of the founders of the Newcastle Conservatorium.

22nd February 1952
Birth of the Conservatorium in a crude Army Nissan Hut in Civic Park, shaken and soiled by passing coal trucks. It had a teaching staff of 11 and 163 students.

Nissan Hut

Pianos on the move

Pianos on the move

29th April 1952
Official Opening of Newcastle Conservatorium with Eugene Goossens, Director of State Conservatorium of Music present.

Official OPening of Conservatorium

June 1952
The huts come under attack from an army of borers, they lay waste on their way to the pianos. The musicians realise they must leave. By 1964 Student enrolments grow to 608.

Building to avoid the borers

26th October 1957
War Memorial Cultural Centre opened. Conservatorium moves to upper floor with eleven studios, small hall, two lecture rooms, administrative offices, library and no borers. The Conservatorium Orchestra, under the baton of Errol Collins played “Prelude for a Ceremony” especially written for the occasion by Frank Hutchens.

Opening of the War Memorial

Conservatorium moves to TPI House Auckland Street.

Aerial View

2nd February 1981
Conservatorium moves to People’s Palace site.

26th April 1983
Newcastle Conservatorium Children’s Orchestra, Errol Collins (conductor) at a small function room in Newcastle City Hall.

Children's Orchestra

Arts Ball with Newcastle Conservatorium Orchestra, conductor Robert Constable.

Conservatorium Orchestra

3rd July 1988
Concert Hall opened.

Conservatorium amalgamated with University of Newcastle

For more information see Kenneth Wiseman’s From Park to Palace A History of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music 1952 – 1986.

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