New touring initiative to bring classical music to the regional NSW

Opera music

A new independent touring organization called Music in The Regions Ltd has been announced. With a mission to connect classical musicians to regional audiences, it will support NSW musicians and small and medium sized ensembles so that they can tour places classical musicians typically do not visit and spend time with. local communities.

The initiative began when the Create NSW Classical Music Artform Advisory Board made a recommendation to Arts Minister Don Harwin late last year.

Naseema Sparks. Photo provided

Talk to Spotlight, Naseema Sparks, who chairs Create NSW’s advisory board on classical music, opera and choral art forms, says: “Obviously, the boards are evaluating nominations. [for funding] but then there is a strategic discussion that board members hold to examine market gaps and assess strategic capacity building options.

“Then when you meet with the minister, you review your funding recommendations. It came from the Classical Music Board, but it was something the minister had thought of in his own way, so it was a convergence of ideas.

Minister Harwin has commissioned a feasibility study. Led by Mary Jo Capps, he revealed that while some valuable touring is already taking place, there are many places in the regional NSW that are currently not visited by classical musicians. On top of that, many are not configured to accommodate musical ensembles, which may require some investment.

The feasibility study recommended the creation of an autonomous touring organization for the small to medium-sized classical music sector.

“We want to make sure that no matter where you live in NSW, audiences have access to classical music performances, and that we continue to provide career and performance paths and opportunities for musicians and bands. classics, especially at this time when it is most needed. Said Minister Harwin.

Sparks has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Music In The Regions. A professional director, she not only chairs the Arts Advisory Board for Create NSW, but is also President and Trustee of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (Sydney Living Museums), and has experience on business boards.

Expressions of interest are now open for the first CEO of Music In The Regions who will guide the new organization and lead the show program, with the first tours starting in 2022.

“Part of this project is overseeing capacity building in several ways – where would the musicians stay? Is there a capacity for them in any center? Does a place need help to sit down? So it is clear that we are not thinking of places like Newcastle and Wollongong. We’re looking at places where orchestras and ensembles wouldn’t normally go, ”says Sparks.

During the tour, the companies will work with regional conservatories, performing arts centers and local councils to build strong relationships and help reinvigorate local musical life.

“We still haven’t worked out some details because it’s really in the start-up phase and a lot of logistics will come after the role. [of Executive Director] is filled, ”says Sparks.

Without wishing to anticipate what the executive director will recommend, Sparks says, “The way I envision it – and it may or may not work like that – but in the United States, country bands and singers were used to it. to turn on a specific route. They would constantly [depart] two weeks after another, there would therefore be groups of people taking a similar route. So maybe it could work like that.

“This is the concept of ‘slow touring’. It’s not just about going to the regions three evenings, doing two concerts and tutoring at school, then coming back to Sydney. It’s being on the road for a while and getting involved in the community. We would particularly like to visit not only schools and [conducting music] tuition fees but attending elderly care centers and hospitals. It will ultimately be, but we all know the effect that music has on people at different stages of their lives and so it is part of it. “

Sparks already has two members of the Board of Directors of Music In The Regions: Jan Bowen, former president of the Sydney Youth Orchestras and current member of the board of directors of the Australian Haydn Ensemble; and Sue Procter, director of business operations, investment and governance of Create NSW.

“We will be welcoming two more directors this year to build up a critical mass, and we see another group of directors arriving early next year before the first tour. Ideally, I would really like to see someone well positioned in the regions join us as a director as well, ”said Sparks.

Sparks imagines that once applications open for musicians, some established ensembles will be interested, as well as newly formed groups and small to medium-sized orchestras.

“Honestly, it’s terribly exciting,” says Sparks. “This is something that could really make a difference, I believe, for the people of the NSW area; to make them feel like they are part of what can often be a very city-centric event or a live event. Instead, you can actually go and watch someone play at your local venue. I love the potential to involve young artists from these regions and I love the potential to involve healthcare facilities. It’s endless, I think, in terms of the social good that can flow from this initiative. “


To request a job description for the role of Executive Director, applicants are encouraged to email [email protected] Applications close on September 13, 2021.

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