Why Music Matters: Kim Williams Delivers The 2014 Sydney Ideas Lecture

Kim Williams AM
Kim Williams AM

What do music and listening have in common? Both are lacking amongst young people growing up in today’s modern world.  This contentious idea will be explored by Kim Williams AM in his one-off Sydney Ideas lecture Music and the Rules of Engagement at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music.

One of Australia’s most high-profile media executives and a well-known supporter of the Arts, Kim Williams speaks intimately about how music influenced his life both personally and professionally.  Williams will draw parallels between the disciplined approach to music training and the way he conducts business.

Talking about two things very dear to his heart – music and listening – Williams will provide a strong case for the primacy of music education from a young age, using his own life as an example. He will explain how he sees music being key to restoring a diminishing life skill today – what he terms ‘close listening’.

He will also touch on the lack of music education he sees growing up in this country today, and Australians’ inability to give and receive criticism in a way that he describes as “thoughtful, caring, constructive and nourishing” – something that music training seeks and welcomes so that musicians grow to become world-class artists.

Kim Williams said: “Music is a natural prism for the way I see things and has been central to my experience and enjoyment of life. Music is so central to my view of the world that I don’t really stand back and think about it and only did so some years ago when asked to give a lecture about music and its personal impact and resonances. This lecture will reflect on some of those matters and offer some observations on why music matters to me.”

Drawing on personal tales disclosed in his latest book, Rules of Engagement, Williams will talk about his first instrument, the banjo; the fear of his first teacher, Mrs Bulger; one of his greatest mentors, teachers and friends, Richard Gill; composing music from the age of 15; and playing the clarinet most of his life.

Kim Williams’ connection with the Sydney Conservatoriumof Music began early in his life when from 1966, he took his first music lessons there, learning from Douglas Gerke and then Donald Westlake, principal clarinetist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. During and after attending the University of Sydney, Williams worked as a composer and private clarinet tutor. One of his first positions in music was as  lecturer under Rex Hobcroft and resident concert organiser at the Conservatorium. In 1973, a large work entitled Music of Space that he wrote for Donald Westlake was premiered at the Sydney Conservatorium.

For the next four decades, Kim Williams played an instrumental role in growing the arts, entertainment and media industries in Australia and overseas.  He was CEO of News Corp Australia, FOXTEL, FOX Studios Australia, the Australian Film Commission and Musica Viva.  Only last year, he stepped down as Chair of the Sydney Opera House Trust after nine years, and in February 2014 he took up his new role as Commissioner of the AFL.

In his book Rules of Engagement, Williams provides a candid, up close and personal account of the exercise of power in the nation’s leading boardrooms, political parties and media organisations.  He will draw on some of the experiences described in the book during his Sydney Ideas lecture. 

 Tickets and bookings: This event is free but bookings essential at con.rsvp@sydney.edu.au



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