Pioneer in research of Asian music wins 2016 Bernard Heinze Award

March 16 / 178

Professor Margaret Kartomi, one of Australia’s leading ethnomusicologists and the world authority on the music of Sumatra, is the recipient of the 2015 Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award.

The award, presented annually by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and a committee that includes membership from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), was presented to Professor Kartomi in March at the MSO’s An Alpine Symphony concert at Hamer Hall.

Professor Gary McPherson, Ormond Chair of Music and Director of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, said Margaret Kartomi’s long and distinguished academic career had shaped the lives and thinking of generations of Australian music students. 

“Her ground-breaking field work in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines is celebrated throughout the world and serves as a fitting exemplar of the finest Australian scholarship in the field of ethnomusicology,” he said.

Professor Kartomi graduated from the University of Adelaide with a first-class honours Bachelor of Music in piano and composition, and from Humboldt University in Berlin with a Doctor of Philosophy in musicology. 

She has held various academic positions at Monash University since 1969, becoming a Professor and Head of the Music Department (later School) in 1989. She pioneered the teaching and research of Asian music in Australia and oversaw an expansion of the School to include performance and composition as well as ethnomusicology and musicology.

Professor Kartomi’s has conducted fieldwork across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Baghdadi Jewish areas of Asia and Australia, and AboriginaMl Australia. Her current research focuses on the music cultures of Aceh, and with her daughter Karen, the Riau Archipelago and Lampung provinces of Sumatra.

Professor Kartomi was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1982, a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to ethnomusicology in 1991 and was presented with a Centenary Medal by the Federal Government of Australia for service to Australian society and the humanities in 2003. In 2011 Margaret was presented an Order from the government of Lampung for her Sumatra research.

Sir Bernard Heinze was one of the major pioneers of orchestral musical life in Australia. He was also the Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne for 31 years. In honour of his memory, the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award is made annually to a person who has made “an outstanding contribution to music in Australia”.

Recipients of the prestigious Bernard Heinze award include Maestro Richard Bonynge, composer Carl Vine, pianist Stephen McIntyre, singer Yvonne Kenny, composer Peter Sculthorpe, conductor John Hopkins, horn player Barry Tuckwell, violinist Richard Tognetti, conductor and composer Brett Dean, conductor Simone Young and music educator Sir Frank Callaway.

Story by Paul Dalgarno.

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