Happy 40th Birthday Hamer Hall

Hamer Hall is celebrating its 40th year in 2023! In November 1982, Hamer Hall – previously known as the Melbourne Concert Hall – opened its doors for the first time. It quickly became the premier venue for orchestral performance in Victoria and has continued to provide cultural and memorable experiences for the community.

To mark this milestone, the Arts Centre wants to unearth and spotlight stories of Hamer Hall from those that built its memorable walls to performers on its stage. And to its audiences – to you.

Everyone’s story of Hamer Hall is unique – and they want to hear yours.

If you would like to share your memories of Hamer Hall with the Arts Centre in celebration of four decades of live performance, click on the button below.

ANAM to enter into 50-year lease on South Melbourne Town Hall

At a meeting on 15 March, City of Port Phillip Councillors voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of Council Officers to enter into a new Lease of up to 50 years with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) at the South Melbourne Town Hall.

As part of the new arrangement ANAM will invest $40m in the refurbishment and renewal of the building over the coming 20 years (with a further $10m for specific ANAM fit-out). ANAM’s plans build on Council’s $15m+ investment to secure the structural integrity of the building, and bring it to a compliant, tenantable condition.

ANAM’s $40m will halt the decline of this landmark building, and deliver:

  • Security for a major piece of education infra-structure for the State of Victoria;
  • Two state-of-art performance venues (for music, dance, drama, comedy, receptions);
  • A catering kitchen for functions and events;
  • Improved front-of-house amenity, including a café/bar;
  • Extra rehearsal studios;
  • A greener building, with improved insulation and energy efficiencies;
  • Heritage-based refurbishment and refresh;
  • Jobs and increased economic activity for the precinct.

Under the lease ANAM will be responsible for the building’s routine maintenance. Council will be responsible for capital and major services maintenance and renewal. ANAM will also pay rent to the City of Port Phillip.

The lease commits ANAM to providing special rates for community hire of the public facilities. ANAM will also establish the South Melbourne Town Hall Cultural Fund – with $1 from each ticket sold for every event in the building – to be made available via public application process to support cultural activity in the area.

ANAM has committed to providing a Council facility in the building – community meeting rooms or support services – depending on what Council decides to be the highest priority. ANAM will provide much needed office accommodation at the Town Hall for Victorian small-to-medium cultural organisations.

The project itself and flow-on activity of community groups, ANAM, and other cultural organisations will lead to more jobs and economic activity in the precinct. The Cost-Benefit Analysis completed by Sustainable East as part of ANAM’s Business Case submitted to the Victorian Government estimates a $1.88 return to the community on every dollar invested.

The decision of Port Phillip Councillors followed their consideration of the more than 560 submissions received in a recent public consultation about the proposal. The local Port Phillip community overwhelmingly supported ANAM remaining in the Town Hall for up to 50 years, with 91% of respondents in favour of the proposal, 4% opposed, and 5% unsure.

With the decision in place, ANAM can focus on raising the necessary funds required to realise its plans. It has already raised $15m (including $12.5m from the Commonwealth Government). Members of Melbourne’s philanthropic community have expressed enthusiasm for the plans, and have indicated that they are keen to support the redevelopment if the Victorian Government joins the project with a commitment to match the Commonwealth Government funding.ANAM’s discussions with the Victorian Government are continuing.

About ANAM’s proposal:  http://renewsmth.com.au


John Daley, Chair, ANAM Board said:

“We are delighted that Council and the community have thrown their support behind ANAM’s vision for the South Melbourne Town Hall. By working together, we can rejuvenate this magnificent building. It’s a huge commitment to the future – many of the ANAM musicians who will be training in the Town Hall and the members of the local community who will be able to enjoy their music-making haven’t even been born yet.ANAM is an internationally acclaimed leader in the education and training sector, In the words of conductor Simone Young “an extraordinary institution”. This major investment in the education fabric of the State secures Victoria’s reputation as the country’s leading music education and training capital for the next half century.

It will be exciting to make the Town Hall into a world-class venue appropriate for one of the best music education institutions in the world: many of the world’s finest musicians come to ANAM, and we are certain that they will be inspired by this great building.

We are also looking forward to returning to the South Melbourne community. For the past 15 years ANAM has been an outward-facing, community-minded, organisation. Our musicians lead projects in local primary schools, perform in nursing homes, mentor the schoolies group, and contribute to community festivals. It takes a village to grow a musician, and it is important for ANAM’s musicians to be part of the village that surrounds them.

An inviting, busy and iconic Town Hall – a building that should be on the “must see” list of every visitor to Melbourne – will create jobs and rejuvenate the local retail and hospitality industries.To be entrusted with the care of this wonderful building is humbling. Council’s decision will ensure that Emerald Hill continues to be an important place for gathering and for culture, as it has been for tens of thousands of years”.

Port Phillip Council Mayor Heather Consolo said:

“The lease will secure the long-term future of what has been a much-loved landmark for 140 years.

We’re excited that ANAM’s presence will further enhance South Melbourne’s reputation as a vibrant, cultural hub for both visitors and our community.

The investment required under the lease also means this impressive building can reopen and again provide a focal point for community gatherings and events as well as hosting civic functions such as Council meetings and citizenship ceremonies.”

Violins made of kelp?

Violins made of kelp?

What happens when a violinist who’s also a seaweed expert meets a couple of inventors who like a challenge?

Emily Sheppard is a Tasmanian-based violinist and composer. Emily also holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and an honours degree in marine science, specialising in seaweed. 

After hearing Emily Sheppard and fellow-musician Yyan Ng play a composition inspired by the flowing movements of seaweed, a friend Roger Bodley joked with Emily about making a violin from kelp. The joke became a challenge and Roger’s friend Chris Henderson joined him in attempting this seemingly impossible task. Between them, Roger and Chris have now made several kelp instruments, with varying characteristics in terms of tone and longevity (unfortunately, anything made of kelp keeps trying to return to its original rather wavy shape).

If this story has piqued your curiosity, watch the interview with Roger and Chris, and hear the violins being played in the videos below.

(If you’re wondering what this story has to do with Victorian chamber music, the Continuo Connect editor saw the violin, heard the story, and was so intrigued she felt she had to share.)

“Strike a Chord” winners

"Strike A Chord" Winners

by Helen Vorrath, published on Aug 31, 2022


Twelve ensembles announced as the Strike a Chord finalists. After an afternoon of stunning performances, they are assembled to hear the jury’s verdict.

Click here to see the list of winners. Or click on the video link to watch the entire concert – it’s worth it!

Congratulations to Musica Viva and all the participants.

ACCess: Australian Chamber Choir’s Excellent Streaming Service

ACCess: Australian Chamber Choir's amazing streaming service

The ACC’s Top Dozen Choral Classics performances, originally scheduled for June 2020, were rescheduled three times, and finally took place over two weekends in August 2022.

According to choir members, “It was worth the wait. We really enjoyed singing the choral works that received the most votes.” These included Allegri’s Miserere, Mozart’s Ave verum, Bach’s Lobet den Herrn, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Purcell’s Hear my prayer, Tallis’ Lamentations. And there’s more.

The concerts were recorded, and are now available on ACCess, the Australian Chamber Choir’s Excellent Streaming Service.

Free streamed concerts from the Melbourne Conservatorium

Free streaming from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

Did you know that the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music have regular free concerts at Melba Hall in Parkville and at the Ian Potter Centre in Southbank?

Even better, all these concerts are streamed free, accessible any time. Click on the button below to see the list of concerts going back to 2019. Needless to say, there are fewer concerts recorded in 2020 and 2021, when Melbourne was in lockdown.

Brahms sextet on 9 August

Kym Dillon meets Croissants & Whiskey and Continuo

Kym Dillon meets Croissants & Whiskey

“The very elegant Reading Room of the Fitzroy Town Hall was packed with people munching croissants, sipping whisky and enjoying wonderful playing by the quartet.”

by Helen Vorrath, published on July 26, 2022


Croissants & Whiskey gave their debut concert on Saturday 23 July, as part of Yarra City Council’s “Leaps and Bounds and Beyond” Music Festival.

The very elegant Reading Room of the Fitzroy Town Hall was packed with people munching croissants, sipping whisky and enjoying wonderful playing by the quartet. One of the highlights was hearing Katie Yap play Emily Sheppard’s Aftermath live – the recording was the first video we put on the Continuo site during lockdown last year. Click here to watch and listen.

Amongst the audience were Kym Dillon, the 2022 Continuo Composer, and Helen Vorrath, Continuo Director and member of the first Continuo Commissioning Circle. It was a great opportunity for Kym to meet Continuo and to hear Croissants & Whiskey playing together. It’s inspired her to write the first of what we hope will be a series of updates on the progress of the project.  You can follow Kym’s story in Circle News.

Circle News

Croissants & Whiskey playing at the Fitzroy Town Hall.
Photo: Darren James

One year on… our first anniversary

One year ago, a group of chamber music aficionados gathered in a cafe and resolved to found Continuo Community. By the end of July 2021 the organisation was incorporated and the website created with a What's On full of August events. The first Continuo Connect newsletter went out on Thursday 29 July 2021.

Since then, so much has happened. Almost immediately Victoria went into lockdown, and all those August events were cancelled. Then the September events. Then the October events. But we soldiered on, advertising all the streaming options that we could find. We made the newsletter weekly because we thought people needed something to read. We moved it from Thursday to "hump day" (Wednesday) as it fitted better with the weekly cycle of events.

When lockdown finally ended, there was an explosion of concerts, and we busied ourselves adding them to What's On and adding information about the ensembles to the Who's Who section of the website. There was a wealth of new music played or premiered in these concerts, and details of the Victorian composers whose music was featured were also added to Who's Who.

We started Continuo Community not only to bring chamber music lovers together, but also to commission new chamber music from Victoria-based composers for local ensembles. Funding would come by forming Commissioning Circles, a group of equal contributors for each project. And earlier this year, we put together the first Circle and commissioned our first work.

Given the difficulties of starting something in the middle of a pandemic, we feel that Continuo has done well in its first year.

Flinders Quartet launch FQ Digital

FQ Digital allows you to experience great music at any time

There is free content with a back catalogue of Flinders Quartet performances as well as content exclusive to our FQ Digital Subscribers.

An annual subscription ($50) includes:

  • Exclusive streamed concerts available on demand for up to 12 months
  • Premiere screenings of concerts
  • A curated experience to help guide your exploration of composers, specific works and performers
  • Interviews with composers and performers<