History of MAMU's Exhibitions and Concerts till 2015

The Early Days

Concerts have been part of MAMU’s brief since 1971 and exhibitions since 1975. By then, the Music Department (as it was known in those days) had completed its relocation from the 11th floor West Wing of the Menzies Building to the 8th floor of the Building’s recently completed South Wing. The new space accommodated offices, an auditorium and a music library, with one small lockable room at one end being dedicated to holding materials that documented the activities of the Department since it was established in 1965. One of those activities was a “Music in Arnhem Land” display, in 1969 in the corridor of the 11th floor. It comprised instruments, photographs and publications donated and curated by Alice Moyle, Research Fellow in music at the time. When not on display, items were stored in the 11th floor music library and in any available cupboards and included reel-to-reel tapes of recorded lectures, concerts, artefacts, instruments, and miscellaneous research publications. All of these supplemented the library’s commercial record collection of mainly European classical and also non-Western music, and sets of ABC and other broadcasts used for teaching purposes.

In the 1970s, the need for a suitable storage space to house proliferating archival materials was becoming increasingly apparent. Music Department staff and graduate students were continually donating their collections of audio tapes, musical instruments and other research specimens gathered during fieldwork in Australia, South and Southeast Asia. The predominantly ethnomusicological character of the collections was enhanced by the acquisition of a complete Javanese slendro-pelog gamelan in 1973, bought with the help of proceeds from fundraising gamelan concerts organised by Margaret Kartomi, Indonesian music specialist and lecturer, and directed by Javanese gamelan musician and dancer Poedijono, in 1972. Through Margaret’s efforts and advocacy, students were able to use a gamelan on loan from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra for the concerts, which continued in ensuing years with the Music Department’s own gamelan. During this time, the 11th floor display cabinet occasionally exhibited instruments collected by Margaret during her many Australian Research Grants Committee (ARGC)-funded field trips to Java, Sumatra and other outer islands of Indonesia.

1975 - 1980

The move to the 8th floor occurred during the 10th anniversary year of the establishment of Monash’s Music Department. Open Day celebrations commemorated that milestone with “ethnic” musical instruments on display (see page 8 of link, under MUSIC) in several recessed glass-fronted cases built flush into the corridor walls encircling the 8th floor music auditorium. A performance by the Monash gamelan group was held in the auditorium itself, as was a videotape presentation of Indian Kathakali dance techniques. Later that year, the “Wednesday Consort” – comprising staff members who met on Wednesdays (hence their name) to play Baroque and Renaissance music – had its debut public performance. Their cohort of instruments, some of which belonged to the Music Department and were held in the music library’s locked storage room that had acquired the name ‘archive’, included crumhorn, recorder, Baroque flute, viol, vihuela de mano and harpsichord. New free-standing glass cabinets positioned against the back wall of the music auditorium became home to and displayed the crumhorns and recorders. A raised control room behind that back wall also served as the technician’s office and included cupboard space for storage of technical equipment and overflow music items (instruments, scores, stands and more).

The library’s archive-cum-storage-room was usually managed by librarian Marianne Kuyper, assisted by graduate students who were studying for higher degrees. Those students were also working as research assistants (RA) to staff who had been awarded the funds to hire them in successful grant applications, and who usually encouraged them to tend to archive matters as well. Jill Stubington whose field of research was indigenous Australian music and who was Alice Moyle’s RA, ran the archive and arranged instrumental displays in its early years.

Occasionally, graduates who were not RAs mounted displays. By 1976, Veronica Rosier (see page 5 of link) had completed her specialist research and training (in Europe) as curator of musical instruments, and had returned to Monash. In that year, she unearthed, from the vaults of the National Museum of Victoria, a veritable treasure trove of rare drums from diverse regions of Papua New Guinea and arranged to borrow them for a month-long exhibition she titled “Drums of Papua New Guinea”. The exhibition, held in the Music Department, is notable not only for the initiative of displaying these specimens but also for being the first of the archive’s exhibitions to include photographs and detailed information about the context, organology, age (which ranged ‘from 1884 till the present-day’), and musical features of the instruments.

Staff members had a hand in exhibitions as well. Greg Hurworth, tutor then lecturer in music as well as a PhD student, arranged Open Day exhibits annually from 1976 to 1980 inclusive. With an allocated budget, his tasks included creating the display themes, making posters, taking photographs and showcasing selected instruments. In 1977, he arranged performances by undergraduate and graduate students to add a musical ambience to the displays, and in 1978 he developed the performance idea further, instigating a series of free fortnightly lunchtime concerts of wide-ranging music, both Western and non-Western, all held in the music auditorium.

1976 was also a notable year for concerts closely associated with the archive. Reis Flora, lecturer and specialist in Indian music, organised performances of Kathakali dance by Shivaram who appears frequently in diverse documents and photographs of MAMU’s Louise Lightfoot Collection. Margaret Kartomi, who was Reader in Music by then and whose sphere of field research included Thailand, facilitated the Music Department’s acquisition of a mahori orchestra (comprising gong circles, xylophones, bowed strings, drums, cymbals and more) which was debuted in a concert of Central Thai court music and which was added to our archive’s collection. Margaret also produced the Javanese gamelan music-dance-drama directed by Poedijono, which was becoming an annual event. In fact, gamelan performances had been presented on every Open Day, as well as at other times, since 1972. The culmination of Margaret’s achievements in 1976 however was her dedication and drive to ensure the archive’s acquisition of the unique Gamelan Digul from the State Museum of Victoria (where it had been gathering dust since 1946), and it has been a major showpiece in our collection ever since.

In May 1979, we encounter the first example of an archive exhibit associated with a conference organised by Margaret Kartomi. Reis Flora collaborated with Greg Hurworth to present a display of ‘Intercultural Shawms’ (see page 12 of link) from Indonesia, India and China for the third national conference of the Musicological Society of Australia (MSA), held for the first time at Monash University. The exhibit also included a set of 6 Renaissance shawms that had recently been acquired by Trevor Jones, Chair of the Music Department since 1965, to add to the early European music instruments collection.

1981 - 1988

Greg became Margaret Kartomi’s RA in 1981 and worked on her collection of tapes and fieldnotes from Sumatra. At the end of that year, accredited librarian and PhD student Aline Scott-Maxwell took over as RA and used her library expertise to begin itemising the archive’s 262 tapes and many more slides that Margaret had amassed during her frequent fieldwork activity in Southeast Asia. Aline shared the task and RA position with PhD student Lynette Broadstock (née Moore) who had collected musical instruments during her field research in Sumatra (1980/81) and displayed them, together with Margaret’s Sumatra specimens, in the auditorium’s glass cabinets upon her return. A year later, Aline and Lynette replaced those with T’boli instruments collected by PhD student Manolete Mora during his fieldwork in the Philippines. In 1984, he began casual work for the library which included stints in the music library. He also assisted Aline with archive matters as Lynette had completed both her doctorate and her term as RA. Aline continued to focus on cataloguing the contents of Margaret’s Sumatra Music Archive (established in 1975), and on creating a brochure that conveyed its contents, value and uniqueness.

Aline also assisted Margaret in an ambitious project to present, in association with the Indonesian Arts Society (IAS), a full-scale exhibition of instruments from many island regions of Indonesia. The exhibition came to fruition in 1985 at the Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne College of Advanced Education (now University of Melbourne) because there was no space large enough at Monash to accommodate it. On display were Indonesian instruments from the archive, including the gamelan and Gamelan Digul. These were supplemented by instruments on loan from a variety of individuals and other institutions. Performances on the gamelan, and Gamelan Digul, were a highlight at the launch. The IAS published the exhibition catalogue in 1985 as ‘An Introductory Handbook’ written by Margaret and titled Musical Instruments of Indonesia. After her informative introduction, she lists the instruments alphabetically, often with an image, and her accompanying text includes their dimensions, organological details, and manner of playing and music style.

1988 was another noteworthy year, this time for the Japanese and Indian sections of the archive. Although Japanese instruments such as the shakuhachi and koto had been donated in the past, usually by Alison Tokita who was lecturer in Japanese studies at Monash and closely liaised with the archive, the establishment of an officially named Japanese Music Archive did not occur until 1988. Hiroyuki Iwaki, renowned chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, was appointed as its principal adviser.

Moving to the Indian sub-continent, Reis Flora, Manolete Mora and Adrian McNeil (who was a graduate student of Indian music and assisted in the archive since 1988) discovered 19th century Hindustani stringed, wind and percussion instruments in the basement of the National Gallery of Victoria and arranged to transfer them to the music archive on permanent loan. As most of them were in relatively good condition, and the story of their journey to Melbourne was worth telling, they were displayed in a month-long exhibition in the Arts and Crafts Building (now long since demolished) just north of the Campus Centre. The accompanying catalogue included information about the instruments, the donor Raja Sourindra Mohun Tagore, the 1880 Melbourne Exhibition he donated them for, and the type of music one would have encountered in 19th century Kolkata (Calcutta). It was important to relay these details to the anticipated readers of the catalogue because the archive’s exhibition was strategically targeted to begin on Open Day and to conclude at the end of the Symposium of the International Musicological Society (see pages 10 and 11 of link) which was being hosted by Monash that year. In addition to the exhibition, a series of concerts were presented as part of the Symposium, highlighting a diversity of musical styles and cultures that included Aboriginal, Indian, Japanese, Javanese, Thai, medieval European, jazz, contemporary and more. It was also another opportunity for performance on the Gamelan Digul.

1989 - 2012

Adrian McNeil continued to assist with the archive collections, assumed the role of Margaret’s RA when Aline left in 1988, and also became actively engaged (as a part-time library staff member) in working with ‘Search MAGIC’ software purchased by the library towards the end of 1989. The software was designed to provide easier access to ethnomusicological records and other data both in the library and in the archive. Adrian went interstate in 1992 to accept a lecturing position. Margaret Kartomi was by then Professor and Head of School, and Director of the various arms of the music archive, which did not yet have its own official title. The collections in the archive had grown incrementally and the diminishing space available for them was becoming an urgent problem. A solution was found in the construction of a Performing Arts Centre (PAC), which began in early 1993 and was completed in October 1994. The Music Department moved into the new building and became known as the School of Music. The entire music library was transferred to the music and soon-to-be-established multimedia section of the main library, and the music archive was housed in large purpose-built premises under the new music auditorium. Archive fixtures and fittings included a compactus, shelving, desks, filing cabinets, and listening booths for playing and recording audio material. Aline Scott-Maxwell, having completed her doctorate, returned Monash to undertake the massive task of sourcing and organising all those furniture and structural needs, packing up the archive contents and installing them in their new PAC home. In the process of dismantling the many items to be packed into boxes for the move, Aline discovered an old tea chest, with Alice Moyle’s name on it, tucked away in a dark corner. Prising the lid open, she was amazed to find it filled with wax cylinders of Aboriginal music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An exciting find indeed!

Greater space allowed for more growth and in 1994, plans to establish a Jewish music archive were underway. In November of that year, the Australian Archive of Jewish Music (AAJM), a joint project of Monash University’s School of Music and Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC), was formally launched by the Vice-Chancellor Mal Logan in the old Music Department’s auditorium and included a concert by local klezmer group ‘Klezmania’. Margaret Kartomi and Professor Bernard Rechter (who was director of ACJC) were co-directors of this newest branch of the music archive. By mid-1995, Aline Scott-Maxwell and Bronia Kornhauser had been appointed as part-time Research Archivists to manage the AAJM, and to focus on collection-building, conduct and tape interviews with members of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and record relevant concerts and other public events thereby gathering examples of the community’s cultural activities to store in the archive. Margaret Kartomi expanded her research interest to include Jewish music on two successive Australian Research Council Discovery Grants, undertaking field work on Baghdadi-Jewish music in Singapore, Penang, Jakarta, Surabaya and Hong Kong, and added those field collections to the archive.

As in the past, Open Days were the perfect arena to display AAJM materials. Community events created more possibilities. One of these was the annual In One Voice Festivals, also known as Concert in the Park, that began in 1996. The AAJM took part from the start, displaying its wares on dedicated tables as a way of promoting itself, getting promises of donations of commercial and private recordings, artefacts and photographs, and signing up people offering to be interviewed. Bronia gave talks about the AAJM to community groups, and organised several fundraising concerts to supplement the seed funding provided by the Vice-Chancellor at the time. The first of these occurred in February 1996 and was titled ‘Chamber Music at Home’ because it was held in a private residence. It featured the School of Music’s in-house chamber ensemble, the Melbourne String Quartet led by Carl Pini.

In 2000, Aline Scott-Maxwell left to lecture at Sydney University and Bronia Kornhauser took over the management of the entire music archive. By then, the AAJM had accumulated around 1000 commercial recordings, over 200 cassettes most of which were from field work in Southeast Asia, Sydney and Melbourne, and approximately 50 video cassettes. In 2004, Margaret Kartomi was awarded a grant to digitise some of these audio materials, and as the years progressed, digitisation became an important project for the rest of the archive’s audio collections. In 2004, Margaret was also preoccupied with the many preparations for the Symposium of the International Musicological Society, to be held in Melbourne again. This time, however, the Symposium was a collaborative exercise between the Victorian College of the Arts (Melbourne) and Monash University. The music archive was involved in the exhibitions planned for the six-day event, including the Asian components of the Percy Grainger Exhibition (held at the Percy Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne) which focussed on the composer’s Asian interests and activities, and the ‘Music at Monash’ Exhibition (held in the Matheson Library) which displayed materials from the AAJM (namely Abraham Adler, Miriam Rochlin and Felix Werder recordings) and the Gamelan Digul (selected instruments and photographs).

Open Day displays continued annually in the PAC foyer even after the music archive returned to the Menzies Building in 2013. The ongoing expansion of the collections through bequests, donations of instruments and other materials, and field work had made the PAC premises inadequate. Relocating to a suite of rooms on the 4th floor, south wing of the Menzies easily accommodated that growth. Indija Mahjoeddin designed the layout of shelving and other fixtures to ensure best and maximum use of space. With the move, serious consideration of a suitable official name for the archive, which had been attracting worldwide interest for many years, was in order. Discussions about an official name had been taking place since 2012. By the time the collections were housed in their new premises, the name Music Archive of Monash University, and its acronym MAMU, had been chosen.

2013 – 2015

The refurbished music archive was launched on 15 August 2013. It was a formal affair emceed by Margaret Kartomi, and included speeches by special guests, an exhibition (in the tailor-made Display Room) of the Thai music collection, performances of Thai ensemble music, and a guided tour of MAMU by Bronia Kornhauser. This became the model (usually without the guided tours) for most subsequent exhibitions. In November of the same year, another exhibition was presented in the Display Room and was launched by Anthony Seeger, visiting Professor from the Smithsonian Institute, Washington. Titled ‘Collections that Captivate: Research Projects inspired by MAMU’, the exhibition highlighted the archive’s Australian, Asian, European and American collections associated with the research work of the School of Music’s staff members. As part of the event, Anthony also launched the new ‘MAMU Digital Collection of Early Australian Music Editions’, and gave a guest seminar on the importance of archives in preserving cultural heritage.

Keeping pace with listing new materials, digitising analog recordings, and generally managing MAMU was growing more difficult. In 2013, Margaret and Bronia enlisted their first volunteer Annette Bowie (a Monash Music alumna), and she has continued in that role ever since, becoming a mentor to other volunteers, and interns, who began to help in the archive from 2014. Those first recruits included Rachel London (intern) and Anthea Skinner, John Garzoli, Indija Mahjoeddin and Brigitta Scarfe (volunteers). Managing MAMU had become a real team effort and they assisted with two large collections MAMU received in 2014: Indonesian films donated by David Hanan, and Indonesian textiles bequeathed by John Noble via his partner John Thomson. The former was launched, by Vice-Chancellor Ed Byrne, in the Japanese Studies Centre building as it could accommodate the screening of a 1950s documentary and a 1960s comedy from the collection as part of the proceedings; Paul Ramadge, Director of the Australia-Indonesia Centre, was among the speech-givers, and Margaret Kartomi was the emcee. The launch of the John Noble Textile Collection would take place in January 2015 at the opening of the full-scale ‘Exhibition of the Malay Arts in Indonesia’ that accompanied the Second International Symposium on the Malay Musical Arts of Indonesia’s Riau Islands. Performances of music from the region in question were an entertaining feature of the opening. The catalogue from this and many later exhibitions can be accessed by returning to the main page.

Bronia Kornhauser MA

MAMU Research Archivist