The Con receives major gift to grow regional buddy program

30 August 2016

The University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music has received a $500,000 gift from the family of Sydney violinist and pianist Richard Pulley (1969-2014). The endowed gift will help expand the Con’s successful ‘buddy program’, which was set up three years ago to bridge the gap between city and regional music conservatoriums.

Students from the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music performing at Dubbo Regional Conservatorium.

Students from the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music performing at Dubbo Regional Conservatorium.

In memory of Richard Pulley who grew up in Armidale and enjoyed a rich musical life and career, the gift will ensure that the Con’s teaching and mentoring program continues to unearth and support music talent residing in regional New South Wales.

Louise Grinham, a relative of Richard Pulley and Director of the family’s CLEARbridge Foundation, said: “As humble as my cousin Richard was, we felt he would have been honoured to be associated with such a valuable and extensive music program.

“As children, we were given many wonderful opportunities to enrich our lives through music. Together with the Con, my family hopes to provide today’s young musicians, particularly in regional areas, with an ample level of support and encouragement to assist them in developing their passion and aptitude for music,” said Louise Grinham.

Professor Anna Reid, Head of School and Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music who initiated the buddy program in 2013, says the Con is enormously thankful of the significant gift received from the CLEARbridge Foundation in honour of Richard Pulley.

The buddy program seeks to redress the imbalance in music resources in rural and more remote areas of New South Wales, while cultivating the next generation of musicians from across the country.
Professor Anna Reid

“It has allowed our talented tertiary students to work closely with our regional conservatoriums. They have proven a great resource in mentoring and coaching school students, and helping these budding musicians to realise their music ability and the opportunity that lies ahead,” said Professor Reid.

In three years, the program has enabled 70 Con tertiary music students to work with 10 regional conservatoriums. The gift from the CLEARbridge Foundation will guarantee the buddy program’s future and expand its reach to all 17 conservatoriums in New South Wales. The program will be renamed in honour of Richard Pulley.

The program sees Con students spend between three and five days tutoring school music students for major concerts and festivals through workshops, one-on-one teaching and performance training. They also visit small, single teacher primary schools in remote areas to introduce young students to music and the diverse orchestral instruments.

The buddy program is also an elective unit of study that Con tertiary students can undertake as part of their academic studies or degree. “It is a great opportunity for our students to hone their teaching and communication skills, as well as to network and broaden their industry connections. We have seen some of our students go on to get jobs in our regional conservatoriums. It is a ‘win win’ for creating a high standard of music-making from the country to the city,” said Professor Reid.

Richard Pulley’s music journey began at a young age when he took up violin and piano lessons at five and seven years old respectively. He was one of the first students in Australia to learn violin using the Suzuki method and was also tutored by the Associate Professor Alice Waten at the Con under an AMEB scholarship. At 15 years of age, he joined the Australian Youth Orchestra.

He went on to play with some of the top Australian orchestras, holding first violin and concertmaster positions with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the Sydney Youth Orchestra and the UNSW Orchestra. In 1993 he was the founding concertmaster of The Occasional Performing Sinfonia (TOPS), a position he held for 14 years. Richard Pulley passed away from multiple myeloma in 2014 aged 45.