29 September 2022

Riverina conservatorium's long-awaited new building nears completion

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s staff and students will move to the new building by end of the year. Photo: Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

A project 10 years in the making is about to come to fruition, with the Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s (RCM) new building nearing completion.

RCM CEO Hamish Tait said he was happy with the progress of the building as it was taking shape.

“It’s starting to look like what we saw on the paper and coming to life,” Mr Tait said.

“We know we will definitely be there by the end of the year.”

The project has not been without controversy. The Conservatorium was granted $10 million in 2018 by the NSW Government to move from the old CSU South Campus but last year lost $20 million to fund stage two after a 300-seat recital hall was deemed “not viable”.

The grant came under scrutiny from the Independent Commission Against Corruption following revelations of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s close personal relationship with former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

While the lost grant was disappointing, musicians who have endured cramped conditions in the aging original facility are looking forward to the move into the new building.

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Mr Tait said the original plan was to have the building finished earlier.

“But due to the apparent constraints of COVID and a worker shortage, the timeline has been extended a little past what we wanted,” he said.

“We were actually looking at probably a late-October/November relocation, which is still very close and very exciting.

“I was feeling upside down about it, but a lot of people who are involved in big building projects said every building project is sort of delayed at the moment … so we will get there.”

Mr Tait said even though the team was close enough to moving into the building, they had to be patient.

“We can rush but mistakes get made, some things have to be undone, they have to cut corners to work better because we’re trying to make a timeline.

“Our position is to work with it, and we’re very excited … we got that assurance.”

Mr Tait said the lengthy process had given the RCM team the chance to assess how to structure the new spaces for rehearsals of bands and ensembles.

He said the new staff room window overlooked the Wollundry lagoon, with ducks and trees, and he thought it was “going to be nice” when the team moved in to the new digs.

Mr Tait said the architect had designed the “most amazing building” and he could not wait to experience its acoustic engineering.

Along with the move, the conservatorium is preparing for its annual Christmas concert.

RCM received $6470 from Riverina Water’s Community Grants Program to put towards the concert.

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RCM staff and musician Kara Williams have composed a piece of new music for the event.

Part of Riverina Water’s grant was a provision for the commission of a new composition.

RCM’s vision is to bring the community and families together and allow everyone to celebrate the end of the year without imposing COVID restrictions.

The conservatorium hopes to give the community the Carols in the Domain experience.

About 200 people attended the 2021 Christmas concert.

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