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25 January 2012

More than Music - extracts from the new Kenneth Tribe biography

Ken Tribe Image: Ken Tribe  
© Bridget Elliot

Ken Tribe (1914-2010) spent 40 years at the artistic helm of Musica Viva, had a pivotal role in the formation of policies for the first Australia Council, and was unfailing in his support of living composers and performers. Gwen Bennett's new biography More than Music gives a full account of Tribe's life, his many professional roles, his personal passion for the arts and his important legacy for music in Australia.

The following two extracts from More than Music come from the 2nd and the 16th chapters of the book: Tribe's early years in Hobart and Sydney, and Musica Viva years 1972-1980. More than music - the life and work of Kenneth W Tribe AC is now available for purchase through the AMC Shop for $25.

> Skip to chapter 16 (Musica Viva 1972-1986).

Chapter 2: The Early Years

Ken Tribe's maternal grandparents came from Ireland and Scotland. His grandfather, Andrew Grellis, had been brought to Scotland in 1847 with his brother Michael due to the potato famine in Ireland. Andrew became a rubber worker in Edinburgh, married Martha Wallace and sired 13 children. During an epidemic (said by Ken's sister Rita to have been scarlet fever) three of the children died in a single month, and 10 years later another child also died. These personal tragedies were so devastating that the parents decided to leave Scotland in the hope of a better life, sailing in 1885 for Hobart, a place that seemed most similar to the country they had abandoned. It was a courageous decision as they were not well off financially. The youngest child, Elizabeth, Ken's mother, was two years old when they arrived in Australia. Andrew Grellis died of pneumonia in 1907, before the birth of his 'Tribe' grandchildren, but his wife Martha lived into her 90s, well remembered by them as an austere woman who always dressed, as did many women of her generation, in long, dark, Victorian-style garments.

Tribe riding a bike at age 7 approx.
A smartly dressed rider, aged approx. 7
(Tribe collection).

The other side of the family had English roots: Ken's paternal forbears came from Bristol. Grandfather Reginald Wilberforce Tribe's middle name derived from an ancestor's admiration for the famous British slave reformer William Wilberforce and this illustrious connection became incorporated as a family name. But Ken did not pass the name on to either of his own sons, to their great relief. Reginald's wife, Caroline Maria Armour (known as Maria), had a French background and was a member of the Giblin family; the large Australian arm of that clan began with Robert Giblin who, with wife and eight children, had arrived in Hobart in 1827. The Giblin side was artistic and Maria was well educated, spoke excellent French and was generally regarded as a very fine character. She reportedly 'kept her husband in check' - he was more wayward and apparently had a slightly shady side that remained a mystery to the descendants. Reginald Tribe and his Maria both had a Giblin parent, but the connection was not close enough to be genetically problematic. They married in 1882 and their son, Cecil Wilberforce Beasley Tribe, Ken's father, was born in Adelaide in 1884.

Cecil was a small, lively, charming, articulate person with a great deal of energy and initiative. He trained himself by correspondence in electrical engineering - a smart career move in an era when electricity was expanding in Australia. He learnt on the job; experience counted more in those days, when university degrees were not always expected. In due course he progressed to become Director of Public Lighting for the Sydney Municipal Council (later the Sydney County Council). In the mid-1920s his role was to see that street lighting worked effectively and to this end he was provided with a Model-T Ford. He developed a good system of communicating advice about the failure of lighting, often due to little boys and their catapults. Cecil was not a businessman with an urge to accumulate money or assets, but his interests lay in many directions and his work allowed him time to pursue them. He understood the processes of radio, building crystal sets and later valve sets; he made cameras, developing his plates at home in a darkened bathroom, sometimes working with a family friend and local chemist, George Campbell. He was good at fixing things, quick at learning new skills and was often called on to set up new ventures. In addition, he was a reasonably good singer and amateur cellist. He was occupied with some project all the time. Even after retirement, this gregarious person took on a job at his son's legal firm as office clerk, just to be involved in something useful. He was a very popular character, with an ebullient personality and a somewhat impulsive nature.

After a childhood in Hobart, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Grellis still spoke with a Scottish accent and was employed in an office as shorthand typist when she met Cecil Tribe. They married in 1910 and, as was normal at that time, she did not work after their marriage. They had moved to Ballarat, but after an unfortunate business venture with an untrustworthy partner, and also to avoid being subjected to the compulsory smallpox vaccine for their baby which they mistrusted, they moved to Sydney. They were not particularly well off, living in rented houses and moving frequently around Sydney suburbs - Haberfield, several different houses in Arncliffe, Manly and Mosman. Only much later in life did they finally buy a house in Womerah Street, Turramurra. Their three children were Marguerite (Rita), born in December 1911, Kenneth Wilberforce, born 6 February 1914 and Phyllis Isobel (known lifelong by the delicious nickname Fizz), born in August 1922.

Red-haired Lizzie was a practical woman, with plenty of good common sense; she looked after the family finances because her husband was rather more unworldly. She was rather strict, conservative and reticent about certain things: for example, she hid her pregnancies from the children - Rita remembered being totally astonished when her father announced that she had acquired a new brother or sister. As with many families of similar background, overt displays of emotion were discouraged and the Scottish 'stiff upper lip' was encouraged. Although the parents did not believe in corporal punishment, obedience was expected from the children and they would never have been bold enough to say 'I won't!' Their mother seemed to be rather tough on them at times, such as the day that Fizz was to go to school for the first time with her older sister Rita, but Fizz refused to get on the bus. They returned home, whereupon Mother grabbed the distraught five-year-old by the hand and immediately took her straight back. But while stern, she was certainly not heartless. 'I'm sure she loved us,' said Rita, 'we weren't bad kids, but I can remember one time when both Ken and I were shut in the bathroom for some misdemeanour. I was crying, but Ken said, "Don't cry, that's what they want you to do."' Wise advice from an embryonic advocate.

All in all, theirs was a happy childhood with few arguments amongst the children. In an age that preceded radio, TV and computers they created their own entertainment, with lots of music, many parties usually set out on the lawn of the family home in Arncliffe, and occasional picnics down at the river, with thermos, sandwiches and home-made cakes. Towers Street was a dead end that led down into the bush and from a very early age Ken's playground was usually outdoors, barefoot, clambering on rocks, picking blackberries, wandering down to Wolli Creek to catch frogs and tadpoles, or climbing the wild quince, peach and apple trees that remained from an abandoned orchard. He and his friends might encounter a blue tongue lizard or a goanna while roaming around. They hunted for bush insects of all kinds, beetles, praying mantis, spiders - Ken's father was impressively unafraid of spiders and let tarantulas run along his arm, so it was not surprising that Ken retained a lifelong fascination for these creatures. Like most Australian children, they collected cicadas - the yellow mundy, floury baker, black prince, greengrocer and an unnamed tiny, grey variety about two centimetres long, a perfect miniature cicada shape with a sibilant song and very hard to find. Birds were endlessly fascinating, especially silvereyes and their beautifully woven nests, swallows with their mud nests, and blue wrens:

I well remember the reedy nature of the nest of the blue wren, Ken said. You came to respect a bird that could do such a splendid thing as build a nest. We would collect an egg and blow the yolk through a hole in each end, but we were not totally destructive - even as children we had a code of never taking more than one egg from a nest. But I despised doves; a dove was very low down in my register of approval.

Near the creek were Chinese market gardens, which were incorporated into the exploratory territory, becoming a source of illicit food for mischievous boys. When he was seven or thereabouts, Ken recalled these gardens flooded by heavy rains, creating a shallow lake as an exhilarating alternative playground. Around that time, because of a fruit fly plague, the authorities ordered the mandatory destruction of fruit trees, especially loquat trees, leading to the re-establishment of orchards in cooler areas where fruit fly did not flourish.

From an early age, Ken's delight in words was stimulated by his literature-loving father, who spent many hours reading to the children. Rita used to read to her little brother too, a mixture of English and Australian stories, books considered suitable for children, such as We of the Never-Never, Bib and Bub, Seven Little Australians, The Little Black Princess, and works by Henry Lawson. Kipling was a special favourite and his skill in creating atmospheric pictures of the jungle stirred the small boy's imagination; he would make up his own stories, and sequels to the stories, where insects and animals were endowed with human qualities and abilities.

His parents encouraged the regular use of libraries and subscribed to the first release in the 1920s of Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia, as well as a monthly series of boys' adventure magazines. Young Ken immersed himself in the encyclopaedia volumes that had been written and illustrated for a child's mind and experience. He would also devour, whenever he could get hold of one, the penny dreadful, a type of comic which he thought would be unacceptable in the eyes of his parents. He expected to be in big trouble when his parents discovered him reading such rubbish, but to his relief they just laughed. Ken became a regular visitor to the City of Sydney Library, which was housed at that time at the northern end of the first floor of the Queen Victoria Building; the memory of these visits was accompanied by another - that of the strong malty smell from a basement liquor store.

As the children grew older, mealtimes were frequently an opportunity for family discussions. A couple of times a week, usually at weekends, the whole family would sit over meals for up to two or three hours, discussing anything and everything. Whenever a new subject came up, Cecil would leap for some reference book. He was interested in early Egyptian and biblical history and being an occasional Anglican churchgoer did not prevent him from investigating various other manifestations of religion, such as Christian Science, or the origins and history of the Masonic movement. He enjoyed the ceremony of the Masons, unlike his wife who was more sober in her tastes, but he was obviously not too serious about it: the family cats all had Masonic names - one cat was called Hiram a'Biff, a name or corruption of a name in Masonic ritual. This was the spirit of the family, a very valuable and important part of the general education of the children.

Born in the first year of World War I, Ken could remember snippets from those years: his parents looking very serious while they read lists from the newspaper of the dead and wounded, flags (the Union Jack, not the Australian flag) hanging from windows or verandas to welcome a local soldier returning from the front, and face masks worn during the influenza pandemic of 1919. Fortunately, his own father had been exempted from call-up because his work in public lighting was considered an essential service and so he was needed in his own country.

Ken's childhood bridged the change from gaslight to electricity, from steam trains and trams to electric ones. At age five, six and seven, Ken would see the man coming around, pulling on the primer with his hook to light the street gas lamps. These gradually disappeared in the early 1920s as electric light was progressively installed. Steam rail, so vital to the development of the country from the mid-19th century, was followed progressively from the 1920s onwards by the introduction of electrified railways. Motor cars did not yet swamp city roads because the average person could not afford them. Horse transport was common until the Great Depression of the 1930s. Ken could recall seeing the 'sparrow starvers' - street cleaners who collected the manure.

Blacksmith shops still existed in suburban Sydney, and Ken thought he was lucky to have one near home. He would often hang around to watch the men at work, fascinated by the heat, the smell, the red hot iron, the big brawny smithy working only in trousers and singlet, the assistant blowing up the coals on the forge, the hammering of the horseshoe on the anvil, the dipping, the sizing, the shoeing of the horse, the fierce stink of glue. Vendors delivered to the home all manner of goods by horse and cart: bread, fruit, vegetables, fish, rabbits, brooms, clothes props, milk through a tap on a huge churn into the household's billy or jug, square blocks of ice for the ice chest (a type of cupboard cooled by ice in an upper compartment) which, at that time, served as a refrigerator.

The family seldom went on holidays, although Ken's mother and sisters went occasionally to a boarding house in Bundanoon. The exception was the biennial trip, on either the Manuka or the Zealandia, for a Christmas visit to Granny Grellis and the multiple (as it seemed to a small child) aunts, uncles and cousins who had remained in Hobart. His parents would have had to save up for those trips, which Ken found an unpleasant experience as he was invariably seasick for the two days of the journey. On one return journey Ken, who by then was a skilled treble in the St Andrew's Choir School, was asked to sing to the passengers; he only just got to the last note, with no time to savour any applause as he made an emergency dash to the bathroom.

Ken remembered being given a fife (a small, shrill flute) by one of his Hobart cousins for Christmas in 1923 and, being very keen to master the new skill of playing it, he 'blew himself faint'. But he quickly became reasonably proficient and this accomplishment proved useful later on at school.

Those were the very early days of radio and an older cousin who built crystal sets gave Ken's family one. It was installed at home with the aerial strung across the backyard; then, this being before the invention of speakers, people had to take turns with the earphones. Cecil and Lizzie probably got more fun out of it than did their son, although Ken recalled that he would occasionally listen to a particular program. Somehow they managed to afford a pianola, which received frequent and thorough workouts in the Tribe household as the children got to know works by Chopin, Beethoven and others, learning at the same time how to read music. The piano-rolls came from lending libraries which were similar to the video/DVD hire shops of today. And there was plenty of singing around the piano as both parents had good singing voices, mother a soprano and father a bass. For some years they were members of the Sydney Madrigal Group based at the NSW State Conservatorium (now Sydney Conservatorium) under the directorship of Frederick Mewton, an uncle of the famous Australian pianist Noel Mewton-Wood, and later under Livingston Mote. In keeping with their usual enthusiasm, Cecil and Lizzie became treasurer and librarian for the Madrigal Society, and remained so until the Society broke up in the 1930s when the Depression hit. Cecil arranged for its considerable music collection to be handed to the NSW Conservatorium library.

Between 1915 and 1922, they also used to attend the fortnightly concerts given by the Verbrugghen String Quartet, describing to the children how Henri Verbrugghen, the first director of the NSW Conservatorium, would address the audience at the beginning of each concert with his responses to newspaper reviews of the previous concert. Verbrugghen formed an orchestra at the Conservatorium which he conducted until his departure in 1922.

People at that time had far less opportunity to hear the variety and breadth of music we can hear today. The few available recordings were of poor quality, radio had not developed and there was little chamber music; in general, the emphasis was on choral music, parish choirs and amateur groups. Occasionally, overseas artists would make the long trek to Australia and, whenever possible, the Tribe family attended concerts in the Sydney Town Hall by these artists. Ken remembered:

We often had free tickets because of Dad's involvement with the Council. I'm not too sure that they were always legitimate - maybe it was a perk of the job. We went to a lot of things, for example, I heard Clara Butt. The Royal Philharmonic Choir had its own orchestra and even then I could tell that the standard was scrappy, rough. At a young age, about ten, eleven or twelve, I recall hearing Paderewski play in the Sydney Town Hall. At the end of the program, many members of the audience crowded together just below the platform, demanding an encore. I pushed to the front - I was scarcely tall enough to see above the platform. I quite vividly recall Paderewski's flamboyant performance style, his long hair flying and his pounding on the sustaining pedal.

Ken's parents had a profound influence on his literary and musical interests. Their example of reading books, regular visits to the library and listening and performing music were the basis of Ken's upbringing. His father was not a 'beer and footy' type, he was more of an intellectual. He also believed that it was essential to work at activities outside the home and job, to put as much as possible into the community. The family culture was one that regarded it as normal to be involved in many activities apart from earning a living. The children always used to joke that: 'Dad came home to work'. This philosophy clearly had a deep and lasting influence on his son and, through him, into the next generation as well.


Chapter 16: Musica Viva 1972-86

Tribe at the Musica Viva office
Tribe at the Musica Viva Clarence St office
(Tribe collection)

Back at Musica Viva, president Charles Berg and music director Ken were becoming concerned that too much of the operational expertise remained in the hands of one person, Regina Ridge. Ridge was always outstandingly efficient and at age 63 was still thoroughly on top of the job. She was accustomed to telephoning either Berg or Ken almost every day to keep in touch, and would be rather put out if one or other of them was too busy to talk to her. They were very happy with her dedication and skill, but precisely for that reason they were worried about how the organisation could carry on if she were incapacitated for whatever reason. Musica Viva's activities had escalated massively with the growth of the organisation and Ridge had only recruited a couple of typists to help her. Berg and Ken believed that it was now appropriate to appoint a deputy manager. They tried out two or three in that role, but of course Ridge always found something wanting, so they decided to split her position.

At that stage, Donald McDonald had resigned from his (first) position at the Australian Opera so Berg suggested to the board that he be invited to be part of the Musica Viva team. He accepted and joined in 1972, taking on certain aspects of Ridge's workload. She was understandably upset, but accepted the situation and they got on well enough for a while, but difficulties soon developed in the relationship, largely because McDonald had a different approach and was much more 'laid back' than Ridge. However, he was obviously not prepared to stay indefinitely in the secondary position and the executive decided that Ridge should hand over to McDonald. In effect, this move was necessary because arts administration had become much more professional by the 1970s, compared with the 1950s when Ridge had been appointed. Ken had the task of telling Ridge the unwelcome news and she, who had devoted her maximum energies to Musica Viva for more than two decades, felt totally betrayed. For some weeks she refused to speak to Ken and he was obliged to call on Berg to intervene, to explain to her that it was a board decision and that Ken was merely the messenger of bad tidings.

Another change in the status quo occurred when, in 1973, Berg left Musica Viva to take on chairmanship of the board of the Australian Opera. The Musica Viva board considered a new appointment to the position, but eventually came to the conclusion that it was both sensible and appropriate to amalgamate the honorary positions of president and music director. This decision was in keeping with Musica Viva's reputation for sparse, economical management. Although it might seem onerous for one person to have both responsibilities, as well as considerable decision making authority, in reality no-one worked alone as the whole executive and the general manager were closely involved with all decisions. Ken was entrusted with the double role; his passion for music and Musica Viva drove his enthusiasm for it.

Donald McDonald took over as manager in 1974. Ridge had lasted about 18 months longer before accepting a new position at the recently opened Sydney Opera House. However, she asked if she could manage the forthcoming tour of the Smetana String Quartet before finally departing Musica Viva, because she had formed a warm association with the players and they with her, over the years of their Australian touring. This was agreed to and Musica Viva also gave her a trip to Europe as a farewell gift. But this turned into a tragedy: in October 1975, she was crossing a road in Prague and was struck by a vehicle, sustaining severe head injuries; she died in hospital later the same day. A memorial service held in Sydney for her was a most moving occasion as tributes flowed in from far and wide. Despite her dictatorial manner, her total commitment and dedication to Musica Viva was universally acknowledged. For almost 25 years she had been its backbone and had been justly rewarded with a Member of the British Empire (MBE) award for her services to music. Ken commented:

Regina had come from a narrow, protected background and had blossomed when this new world opened up for her, interacting with world-famous musicians. Like all human beings she had imperfections, but in the role she performed they were minimal. It would be very hard, even in these days of trained administrators, to beat her performance. My admiration for her has not diminished. She was possessive and proud, totally immersed in Musica Viva. It was her life.

Under Donald McDonald Musica Viva was reinvigorated. He had energy, vision, was exemplary in his interactions with musicians and comfortable with public appearances; as a result he took over a number of duties from the board. McDonald was also financially astute: in 1976 he presided over the purchase of a three-storey building at 68 Clarence Street Sydney, for what now seems the trivial amount of $200,000. Musica Viva occupied one floor and leased out the other two. Later, this building was sold for substantially more, and new premises were purchased at the current headquarters in Chalmers Street, near Central Railway.

Support for Australian performers and composers was at the forefront of program planning. Les Percussions de Strasbourg and the Fires of London in particular provided a stimulus to local composers such as Peter Sculthorpe, Ross Edwards and Richard Meale. Of excursions into the new and unusual, Ken said:

I believe that, although we all have preferences, too many of us can shut off experience of music by not letting the hearing range beyond what is our main preference. It does a good turn to the main European classical and romantic literature by not overexposing those works, and by listening with different ears. At that time, it took a little bit of courage to move out from the safe and sure and I think that my greatest contribution to Musica Viva was to open up its musical experiences and giving it a greater life in that respect. One becomes eclectic in musical outlook.

A number of Musica Viva commissions were written for, or premiered by, both overseas and Australian groups. The Austral String Quartet, Petra String Quartet, New England Ensemble, Adelaide Wind Quintet, Canberra Wind Soloists, Seymour Group, Australia Ensemble, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney String Quartet, Melbourne String Quartet and others were regulars on the concert platform. A number of these groups no longer exist now, but this is certainly not due to a lack of support from Musica Viva, whatever other reasons there may be. Donald McDonald was responsible for bringing Kim Williams into the organisation. Williams was a young composer in his mid-20s, who had assisted pianist Roger Woodward in running a series of piano recitals - called Music Rostrum - which toured Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne with well-known international musicians such as Yuji Takahashi, Luciano Berio and Cathy Berberian. Ken and Williams had already met at meetings of the Music Board of the Australia Council and also at the Mittagong Easter Festival. When McDonald resigned in 1977 to go to the Sydney Theatre Company, Ken asked Williams to take over as program and planning manager. Michael Griggs became general manager for a short period, then a triumvirate of Derek Minett, Suzanne Gleeson and Williams ran the organisation for 18 months before Williams alone was promoted to the general manager position.

Williams, musically educated, committed and determined, had a close professional relationship with Ken; their views and energies were well matched.

He had shown precocious ability, said Ken. He was very hard working, would get in early and leave late and liked to know everything that was going on. Despite the age difference, we had a warm relationship. We would have lunch once a fortnight and throw ideas around, firming up plans, sorting out problems, whatever.

Together they drove the programming throughout the next few years, working on a range of initiatives covering concerts, touring, commissions, composers-in-residence, branch consolidation, formation of a new governing body and initiating the schools program, all aimed at rejuvenating the organisation. This was a period of substantial growth, the biggest expansion that Musica Viva had yet experienced, peaking in 1983 when about 15,000 subscribers were listed nationally and seasons consistently sold out, including three subscription series in Sydney (one at the Opera House and two at the Seymour Centre). Of two subscription series in Melbourne, one was completely sold out and the other 80% sold; Adelaide was sold out, Perth 90%, Newcastle 95%, and Brisbane 85%.

Canberra was more than sold out, Williams recalled. I remember well that the Canberra School of Music Hall holds 1,442 people, because that's how many subscriptions we used to sell. I used to worry about how we'd get media and guests in. They had a very clever chap in charge, a statistics analyst at the Department of Defence, and he would assure me that it was statistically impossible to have a full house, that there would always be someone who was sick; he'd say, 'don't worry, we don't give fixed seats' … they even used to sell surplus seats and actually monitor the hall, so we regularly used to do 107% capacity! They were pretty good days.

At that time, it appeared that chamber music had surpassed orchestral music in the number of people subscribing and attending. Ken always acknowledged that this was due to the combined efforts of performers, staff, volunteers, and to vision in leadership. He extolled his general managers, remarking how fortunate he had been in having people with whom it was so rewarding to work: firstly Regina Ridge, then Donald McDonald, Kim Williams, Phillip Henry and later Jenny Bott and current manager, Mary Jo Capps.

1970s, Musica Viva began an initiative to bring other states directly into the organisation to enable greater efficiency in touring arrangements and also to maintain financial stability by offsetting losses in smaller centres against profits in bigger ones. In 1974 and 1975, branches were established in Hobart and Perth respectively, followed by Newcastle a few years later. The Canberra Chamber Music Society remained separate for a long time, although they only mounted concerts by Musica Viva artists. Eventually they were persuaded to become a branch. Ken laughed as he reported this story against himself: 'Kim said that I talked for three quarters of an hour before I allowed anyone else to speak! There was minor opposition, but they agreed in the end.' Ken always maintained that the big strengths of Musica Viva were branch and volunteer involvement. Certainly, they were essential and without them there would probably be no Musica Viva today.

Towards the end of the 1970s, Ken decided it was time to think about restructuring Musica Viva's governance, which began as a large, rather unwieldy council of about 30 people from around Australia, overseen by a small executive group. Ken drafted two papers outlining to the council a significant changing of the guard. The plan was to replace the existing council with a national board of 14 elected directors, six from head office in Sydney, two from Melbourne and one from the other States, the ACT and Newcastle. 'It created a bit of controversy of course and was a bit unpleasant,' said Kim Williams, 'but Ken is resilient and focussed. He and I drove it. We stuck together.' Wishing to allay suspicions that the appointments to the national board would be nominal only, Ken set up a structure that required every member to attend policy meetings every two months, then return to their home State, to write a report and discuss it with their local groups. There would be no executive as such. An 'urgent business committee' was set up to cope with emergencies, such as the cancellation of a tour, when decisions often needed to be made promptly. This new system was introduced in 1981 and there has been little variation since.

One of the first decisions made by the new national board was to endorse the 'schools program'. The inauguration of this program had created somewhat of a storm at Musica Viva. Kim Williams wanted to start a major music education program to improve the status of music in the school curriculum, to create performing opportunities for ensembles, to help build audiences for the future and to give children an opportunity to hear something other than pop music. Williams had strong views:

The great dispossessed audiences of the world, those who cannot speak for themselves, are kids. They are the most neglected public of all and probably the most critical. So in 1980 I put together a pilot project to provide quality live music in infants and secondary schools, also to give a greater nexus for Australian ensembles, because they needed money to survive. I wanted to take the project on, full on, and to make it mainstream. But the board would not agree.

This initiative occurred before the creation of the new national board. Musica Viva, together with the NSW Department of Education, ran a successful pilot scheme in 1981, but to Williams's chagrin, some of Musica Viva's executive were against carrying the project further. Ken is reported to have said to him: 'Go ahead, and leave them to me.'

Opposition melted away with the creation of the national board and the schools' program went ahead, with support initially from the Ministry for the Arts and, later, the Australia Council. It has become a huge part of Music Viva's annual activities, with more than 2,000 concerts per year in primary and secondary schools, plus special programs for elective music students. A major reason for its success was the involvement of school teachers in preparation and follow-up, as well as the high quality of the performers. Once again, Ken facilitated the establishment of something that he believed was important for the future of music in Australia. [...]

AMC resources

Purchase More than Music by Gwen Bennett through the AMC Shop for $25
AMC members are entitled to a 10% discount - find out more.

'Vale Kenneth Tribe AC' - Gwen Bennett's article on Resonate (29 July 2010)

Further links

Musica Viva - www.musicaviva.com.au/

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