Spaces and Places

Music happens all over the University, whether played, heard or researched, and the physical spaces and places connected with it are closely linked to many personal and institutional musical identities.

Formal music study began at the Conservatorium, which moved around Melbourne before the 1909 Art Nouveau Conservatorium building in Parkville was opened and was continued in the Music school at the VCA, which opened in 1974. While the individual identities of these schools have been tested and challenged throughout their history—from debates about the place of practical music study on a traditional university campus in the Con’s early days, to the maintaining of the VCA’s distinct character, in face of multiple amalgamations and de-amalgamations—many students have also found their own place in the courses, research networks societies these places offer.

In addition to spaces dedicated to jazz, the Early Music Studio (founded in 1996 by John Griffiths), electronic music, Australian music, and a variety of other research centres, there are also long musical histories associated with the various colleges (all have choirs or musical institutions), bands heard at the Student Union, music societies in many other faculties, research undertaken in the Music Library, and the overall musical chaos of the Grainger Museum, established by Percy Grainger in the late 1930s. 2019 also brought new spaces, with the renamed Faculty of Fine Arts and Music finding its new home in the Ian Potter Southbank Centre.

A new commission exploring the sounds of music students practising and rehearsing as part of their studies in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music is a central feature of the exhibition Multivocal. Alumnus composer Imogen Cygler has created a soundscape, Spaces Places, which explores the experience of moving through the corridors and spaces of any of the music buildings on the University campus today. Spaces Places incorporates performances from current students and staff as well as archival recordings. Imogen is an Honours graduate in the Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) from the VCA.

Behind ‘Spaces Places’: Interview with the composer Imogen Cygler

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