Early music virtuoso for ANU School of Music

THE ANU School of Music continues to staff-up in the area of early music with the news that conductor, harpsichordist, and fortepianist Erin Helyard will be joining the staff as a lecturer in Music from July this year.

Dr Erin Helyard

Dr Erin Helyard

In an announcement headed “School of Music makes stunning new appointment,” head of the school, Peter Tregear said, “Erin is internationally regarded as one of the finest virtuoso-scholars of his generation, a musician with an already outstanding reputation as an expert in historically informed performance.”

Those who take a keen interest in the newly academic focus on music of the school, once one of the finest conservatories in the country, will be interested at the description of Dr Helyard as being “at the forefront of a new generation of young musicians who combine the latest in musicological and historical enquiry with a passion for promoting live music in contemporary culture.” That seems to cover all bases.

Helyard is at present a lecturer in Historical Performance at the New Zealand School of Music. A graduate in harpsichord at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he has a Masters in fortepiano and a PhD in musicology from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal. He has been a member the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the ensemble, Caprice, co-founder and artistic director of Pinchgut Opera, a founding member of the Orchestra of the Antipodes and, since 2013, music director of Hobart Baroque.

Helyard’s credentials in early music are impeccable and he joins a considerable lineup of scholar/performers with interests in early music, including, as the school was quick to point out, “Dr Calvin Bowman, Dr David Irving, Dr Alexander Hunter, Dr Paul McMahon, and Professor Peter Tregear.” The inclusion of the titles in the press release confirms the ANU’s determination to replace its former staff of outstanding performers with academic scholars who also perform.

While expressing his pleasure at this chance to return to Australia, Helyard also praised the ANU as “an institution which not only gives me access to a world-class faculty and an extraordinary collection of historic keyboard instruments but also shares my passionate commitment to the highest values of scholarship.”

Canberra music lovers will recall that this collection was lovingly guarded by one of the former staff members at the School of Music, the distinguished fortepianist, pianist, scholar and conductor, “Dr” Geoffrey Lancaster.

A distinct sense of  “everything old is new again” hangs over this otherwise fine appointment.

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