50 Years of WollCon
1972 – 2022
Welcome to Wollongong Conservatorium
Positive Change Through Music
What began as a provider of music education with classes run out of a local church building, the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music has become a local icon of the community, whose home is an historic manor house and school perched on the top of a hill in Wollongong Botanic Garden.
The common thread back to the origins of WollCon is a commitment to quality teaching, to learning the craft of music and technique as well as nurturing both the individual’s and the community’s love of music.
WollCon started life in the early 1970’s with lessons given in what is now known as Church on the Mall, which is still used by WollCon today for performances.
WollCon moved to the inspirational surroundings of the Botanical Gardens and Gleniffer Brae in the 1980s to occupy part of the historic homestead built by steel pioneer Arthur Sidney Hoskins as well as school buildings vacated by the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS).
Gleniffer Brae itself is a beautiful Tudor Manor-style house. It was built in 1938 and the gardens near the house were designed by renowned 20th Century landscaper Paul Sorensen. The Hoskins family donated large parts of the estate to establish Wollongong Botanic Garden. The house itself became part of Wollongong City Council’s portfolio in the 1970s once SCEGGS had moved away.
Creatively WollCon has its roots in a group of pioneering musicians who either grew up in Wollongong or who were drawn here because of new opportunities such as Sydney Conservatorium establishing a branch in Wollongong (which became WollCon) and the development of what is now UOW.
In the early days the program at WollCon was a hybrid with great classical musicians from Europe teaching and working alongside pioneers of the Suzuki method, which was introduced to Australia in Wollongong. Therefore, students at the Conservatorium such as the young Richard Tognetti received a training rooted in the long history of European classical music alongside more progressive methods such as Suzuki.
Today the program embraces a wide range of musical genres – from world music to jazz, from classical to contemporary, so that anyone involved in music making at WollCon can experience that heady mix of influences which was such a feature of the early days.
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