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Canberra Today 21°/24° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

School of Music: Pereira rebukes ANU’s ‘indecency’

Musician and “CityNews” Artist of the Year 2010, DAVID PEREIRA, writes about being caught up in the “senseless war” over the School of Music

Music-making is what I happen to do for a living. I also live to be a (reasonably) good person, father, husband, and reciprocating member of family and society.

Far from being an island, I know that both for survival and happiness I am embedded in a rewarding and demanding web of social relationships.

Here are some examples:

Our GP has treated all seven of my children. He is much younger than I, which is great: I can hope to benefit from his expertise and humanity until my dying day. I respect his diagnostic skill, his vast experience that has increased his wisdom, and his human decency. If I were to die soon, I’d be glad to hear it from him. It would pain him to have to tell me. He is irreplaceable to me.

Our mechanic. When I drive our 20-year-old Tarago I am confident that it is safe. I respect him also because he helps me to spend as little as necessary, works well and hard to keep my custom and because of his human decency. With genuine interest he asks about my children and I pay him promptly. The professional relationship that we enjoy includes the strong sense that each of us is a precious person and that we serve each other.

Our fortnightly house cleaner. She does a great job and some of her expertise is a mystery to me. I am struck by her generosity and her meditative way of doing what many find tedious, even in their own home. I am sorry she will need to have a hip operation – couldn’t happen to a nicer person. The professional relationship that we enjoy includes the strong sense that each of us is a precious person and that we serve each other.

My newest private student of cello. She and her parents bring special charm to my day when it is their lesson time. She really lights up when, through me, she makes new discoveries. In this and in many other ways she encourages me that I am useful to her. The professional relationship that we enjoy includes the strong sense that each of us is a precious person. I’m not sure if she is old enough to know how importantly she nurtures me, but it is my weekly privilege to serve her. She and her parents have such human decency that I weekly am reminded by them of how real a thing it is.

An older couple regularly have paid to attend concerts that my wife and I have curated. One way I value them is for their vast experience as listeners to music and for the insight it has allowed their judgement concerning quality and content. Their feedback has shaped our programming and choice of venues and co-performers. The professional relationship that we enjoy includes the strong sense that we are all good people and that we serve each other.

I would neither preach to the converted nor throw my pearls before swine. Throughout the current ANU School of  Music crisis I have been tempted by each in turn.

I will only say here that as a human being caught up in a senseless war that quickly has ruined the reputation of my primary workplace I rebuke those that are responsible.

I rebuke them for their indecency and for their arrogance; I rebuke them for their managerial inexpertise and their ignorance; I rebuke them for their vandalism. I do this not because what they have done is stupid but because they still are smiling.

There ought to be an enquiry that has the power and the right to expose all of the dishonesty, all of the hidden agendas, all of the meanness, all of the senseless personal ambition, all of the mismanagement and all of the callous indifference to music.

Sustainability evidently has justified these things, and others, even as what might have been sustained longer was destroyed, and which sometime later, someplace else, will have to be rebuilt.

David Pereira is presently a part-time employee at the ANU School of Music who teaches,  one-on-one,  11 tertiary cello majors, all of whom came to Canberra for tertiary studies from other parts of the country.

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8 Responses to School of Music: Pereira rebukes ANU’s ‘indecency’

Virginia Weekes says: June 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you, David, for a beautifully written article which encapsulates precisely what this terrible and senseless vandalism has done. Music communicates on the highest level and engenders respect between people. Great musicians and music teachers are teaching this, educating the spirit and developing decent, compassionate, community-minded, ethical people. The new model proposed by these callous vandals will not produce true musicians, but another generation of workers in money-making music businesses with no appreciation for those concepts & higher realities. They will be motivated by personal ambition & greed, & possibly end up as mean-spirited & blind to the true purpose of higher education as those making these decisions have shown themselves to be. Thank you for your music, humanity, & demonstrating the transferability of skills (for instance, in communication) that you have passed on to your students over the years. Commiserations & best wishes to yourself & your family.

Joseph says: June 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Pereira for president! I am one such student who relocated to Canberra to study with David. I have taken lessons from, and participated in and watched master classes given by some of the most prominent cellists in Australia and overseas. I have also watched many concerts given by cellists ranging from very accomplished to world class. Accusations of gross exaggeration regarding teaching quality at the ANU in no way apply to David. Experiencing him as a teacher, performer, mentor and role model I would rank him as up there with the best in all three respects. He is also most keen to research, teach and publish new and better ways of playing his instrument. Hopefully he will continue to train me and my peers, present and future, for careers in excellence- his loss both in this regard and as an extremely kind and generous friend would be immeasurable. The clowns in senior management positions will never appreciate that the value of their lifetime achievements amounts to a fraction of those of this man. The saddest part is they will never be able to appreciate what so rashly they have destroyed at ANU. May we all otherwise together continue to prosper. I wouldn’t hesitate to leave ANU. But not David.

Jane says: June 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Such a lovely, eloquent piece. I think it brings the human aspect to what is happening to the School of Music.

Goetz Richter says: June 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher, reminded us that “the aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.” While ANU is busy chasing rankings (not least in philosophy), David Pereira, the musician, reminds us of two important aspects that have been mostly overlooked in a stunning account of outstanding achievements. Firstly, education is a spiritual exercise and duty- perhaps our most important one. Secondly, education and the gathering of knowledge require ethical integrity and intellectual coherence to flourish. Universities that become driven by appearances and hide behind balance- and ranking sheets undermine the fundamentals of their purpose in manifold ways. While individuals may not be around to suffer all consequences of their failure, musicians and philosophers must remember that they are here as caretakers at all times. Identifying indecency and lack of care as Pereira does with rhetorical force is on the money for it reminds us that the fundamental problem is not one of rankings or budgets. Indecency is a function of a noisy ignorance about fundamental purpose hidden by eager and nifty arguments. Philosophers from Socrates onwards have usually known this. But then, they had no rankings to worry about…..

Nancy Tingey says: June 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Thank you David for expressing so eloquently what so many of us feel. When you came and played in our Colour of Sound program recently, for a pittance, we appreciated your generosity and understanding of true values. You gave great joy. We salute you. Nancy Tingey for Painting with Parkinsons.


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