23 February 2023

A 'pianissimo' start for Riverina Conservatorium of Music's new space

| Chris Roe
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Riverina Conservatorium of Music

RCM CEO Hamish Tait can’t wait to show off the new Riverina Conservatorium of Music and the spectacular R1 room. Photo: Chris Roe.

‘Pianissimo’ is a musical term indicating quiet and it is also a good way to describe the Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s unheralded arrival at 1 Simmons Street in the heart of Wagga.

The finishing touches are still being added to the state-of-the-art facility and there are unpacked boxes here and there, but CEO Hamish Tait says it’s a pleasure to come to work.

“We’re not fighting the building anymore,” he says walking through freshly painted, brightly lit, sound dampened corridors.

“Obviously we still have some teething things that we’re working through, but the basic functionality of the building is just so good straight up that everything’s working.”

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RCM’s relocation from the deteriorating buildings at the old CSU South Campus to the new location overlooking Wollundry Lagoon is a project 10 years in the making and staff have begun settling in over the last couple of weeks.

“In the previous building, the departments were scattered all over the campus so what the design of this building has done is put the teams together,” he explains.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music

RCM’s new facility at 1 Simmons Street overlooking the lagoon. Photo: Chris Roe.

The purpose-built rehearsal spaces are soundproofed with Autex polyester panels and the percussion room has its own unique design to contain even the most furious drumming.

“That is a building inside the building, its foundation and its walls are actually physically disconnected from the rest of the building,” he explains, looking into the percussion-packed room through the angled glass window.

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“You can be in there playing drums loud enough that you require headphones, and you can’t hear it outside.

“That’s where we’ll be if there’s a nuclear war,” he adds with a laugh.


Maria plays in one of the RCM’s new practice spaces. Photo: Chris Roe.

The keyboard department upstairs is one of the new facility’s busiest spaces and Hamish says they required specialist movers to bring in the collection of pianos.

“Moving grand pianos is a very special skill. They are very heavy and don’t survive falling particularly well,” he says.

Second-year student Maria is practising on a piano in a sunny corner room and says she loves the new space overlooking the leafy street outside.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music

Students and teachers are steadily settling into the new purpose-built RCM. Photo: Chris Roe.

The larger spaces include specially designed serrated ceiling lighting to ensure that they deliver the best sound possible and Hamish explains that some rooms are tailored to acoustic instruments and others for amplification.

But the building’s piece de resistance is the room simply titled R1.

“This is unlike anything you’ll see outside of a capital city,” says Hamish pushing open the heavy doors to reveal a bright, wood-panelled room with windows overlooking the lagoon and a high ceiling patterned with zig-zagging white acoustic panels.

Riverina Conservatory of Music

RCM’s world-class performance space is simply called ‘R1’. Photo: Chris Roe.

Hamish is looking forward to showcasing the new facility to the community.

“This room is world-class, it really is, and we will host our first performance in here on Friday with a scholarship awards concert,” he says.

“South Campus was a fantastic home for us for 42 years, but of course, we couldn’t stay there and so if we had to go somewhere, this is a pretty good spot,” he says with a grin.

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