31 July 2023

Riverina Conservatorium of Music is all set for a new beginning

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Riverina Conservatorium of Music staff and board are happy to finally have the official opening of the facility. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

The official opening of Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s new state-of-the-art facility was 10 years in the making.

Situated at 1 Simmons Street, the new building overlooks the Wollundry Lagoon. Prior to the new site’s completion in February 2023, the RCM was located at the deteriorating CSU South Campus building.

The official opening was held on Saturday 29 July, attended by a host of dignitaries including RCM chair Dr Andrew Wallace, Independent Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr, Wagga Wagga City Council Mayor Dallas Tout, Cr Amelia Parkins, Aunty Cheryl Penrith, Regional Conservatorium president David Francis and former Wagga Mayor Greg Conkey.

READ ALSO A ‘pianissimo’ start for Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s new space

RCM director and CEO Hamish Tait said the team at the conservatorium feels relieved the official opening has finally taken place.

“It’s such a joy to be here (new facility) and tonight was such a wonderful celebration of what we do and our role in the community and the value in which the community places in the conservatorium,” Mr Tait said.

Mr Tait said within a few months of the facility opening there had been 1500 people coming through.

“The (site) is so accessible, whereas our old site wasn’t accessible so people didn’t tend to come when did concerts and performances,” he said.

“But coming here we found the community has just been coming in when we do concerts and we fill this room (RCM’s piece de resistance R1) and that has been incredible.”

RCM Official opening

RCM CEO Hamish Tait, RCM Chair Dr Andrew Wallace, RCM student Banruo Zhu, Dr Joe McGirr and Aunty Cheryl Penrith officially opening the building. Photo: Shri Gayaythirie Rajen.

Mr Tait thanked the RCM staff and board members for all their hard work in making the new building a reality.

He said the person who had shed the most blood, sweat and tears to get the new building opened was Dr Wallace, who had spearheaded the project with over 10 years of work and thousands of pages of documentation and all the trials that went with it.

The director said the past 18 months had been torturous for the RCM with the impending loss of their old site, dealing with politics that was beyond their control and the impact of COVID-19.


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

Mr Tait said work done by RCM is vital for the wider community.

“We provide music education opportunity which is essential for the development of the young people and children,” he said.

“We also provide an enormous amount of support and benefit to older adults who are coming back to music after a big break but also people who come to music because it’s a social thing for them as they get old…they need to have the support and engagement with people in the communities.

“Making music together is about culture. It’s about all aspects of coming together and sharing something.

Moving forward, the CEO said the conservatorium hopes to have more concerts and do more work with public school partners in providing music education.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music

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

Dr McGirr said one thing Australia does is celebrate sports, but this shouldn’t be the only skill that gets recognised.

“Music, culture and art are just as important to an individual as important to a community,” Dr McGirr said.

“Often in regional NSW, we sell ourselves short because say what a great place we are for sport.

“How often do we hear Wagga is the city of good sports when it should be the city of great musicians?” he asked.

READ ALSO Dr Harold Gretton is introducing Aussies to classical guitar one gig at a time

Dr McGirr said the work done by RCM is critical for the local community and hopes the new building would be a vital part of the area for another 100 years and longer.

He said along with his four children, many people in the community have benefitted from being exposed to world-class teaching in music.

Dr McGirr said talented musicians should have the same pathways as athletes and the RCM is providing those opportunities.

The event had special performances by Mr Tait (RCM piano teacher), Banruo Zhu (piano), Taylah Brown (contemporary vocal), Trang Nguyen (classical guitar), Rachel Roberts (violin) accompanied by Carmel Ryan on piano, Larissa Burak (RCM vocal teacher).

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