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Baroque concert hall bid for Tynte Street

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A classical composer has applied to host public performances at a heritage-listed North Adelaide home that he has transformed into a baroque concert hall, saying it will give Australians the chance to appreciate classical music in a European or Russian-style environment.

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Composer and pianist Julian Cochran, who grew up in Adelaide and studied at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, has lodged plans to change the use of a circa-1800s bluestone house on Tynte Street into a performing arts venue.

Referred to as a “classical music centre”, the local heritage-listed building has already undergone meticulous renovations inspired by the circa-1700s architecture of concert and chamber halls across Europe.

If granted permission from the state’s planning commission to open the venue, Cochran, who now lives in Europe, plans to host public piano recitals, fairy-tale readings for children, philosophy talks, music lessons and art presentations.

“During my concert travels, particularly in St Petersburg, Russia, I frequently dreamt to give Australians the opportunity to experience classical music in the midst of such tremendous atmosphere,” Cochran told InDaily.

“I cannot explain how isolated Australia is culturally, so this will form new valuable ties between Australia and the outside world of classical music.

“(It will) provide an opportunity for ordinary Australians not frequently visiting Europe to have a chance to see a circa-1720 rococo chamber hall without travelling to Europe or Russia, and exactly as a Peter the Great would have presented it when it was new.”

The concert hall featuring a hand-painted ceiling fresco. Photo: Supplied

The interior of the local heritage-listed house has been reconfigured into a reception area opening out onto a concert hall featuring a full-ceiling baroque fresco hand-painted by Italian artist Fabio Prati.

The concert hall has the capacity to seat up to 40 people and will host up to three public recitals each week.

“All uses of the hall will be strictly cultural,” Cochran said.

“My goal is to offer some free concerts to try to encourage people who hear beautiful music who do not habitually attend classical concerts.

“There will also be masterclasses with professors helping pianists in front of a public audience, including the international visiting pianists.

“This is extremely interesting for the public as they can see the inner-workings of how an artful interpretation is formed.”

Cochran said he insisted the interior of the concert hall accurately captured the spirit and style of baroque architecture, with the design informed by photographs of European concert halls in which he had performed.

“As I travel through museums and concert halls in Europe and Russia, I have been often taking close-up photos of details in the corners of rooms to try to capture the techniques, and sending them back to builders in Australia,” he said.

“When discussing the techniques, I was occasionally encouraged to add a ‘modern spin’ on what I had envisaged, but I always resisted emphatically – in my view, time is the best filter.”

The concert hall has been built inside a local heritage-listed house on Tynte Street. Photo: Google

The composer said he was particularly proud of the ceiling fresco, which spans over eleven metres and was painted by Prati while he listened to his music.

“Whilst visiting the palaces of Genoa (Italy) close to my home, I caught sight of a painter – Fabio Prati – working in his studio and upon entering and discussing art, we formed a friendship,” he said.

“It turned out that Prati was assigned to work upon restorations of the most famous Genoese historical palaces.

Prati conceived and painted the eight-metre by 11-metre (fresco by) hand whilst listening to my orchestral work… applying the skills and traditional techniques of his homeland of Genoa.

“You will find numerous musical references such as the Sirens from Greek mythology – half nymph and half bird.

“Their enchanting songs lured sailors to their death, but what is more touching – in showing the vital importance of music – is the rare sailor was capable of turning away from the exquisite music, then the Siren herself perished.”

Composer Julian Cochran. Photo: Facebook

To begin with, Cochran said the concert hall would open on a “recital by recital basis”.

Asked how he was funding the project, the composer said: “We will see as we go”.

“To recover costs for the construction, maintenance and free uses, hopefully such expenses can be partly covered by the ticketed recitals,” he said.

“I cannot be directly involved from my home in Europe and with composing taking tremendous concentration, work and volunteering openings will become available, including a hall manager to facilitate the recitals and other cultural events, and welcome guests in and out of the hall.”

Meanwhile, the state government is undertaking a business case to determine the viability and profitability of building a taxpayer-funded acoustic concert hall in Adelaide.

An underground, three-level concert hall was once included in early plans for Lot Fourteen at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, but was since abandoned.

Other potential sites for a concert hall that have been flagged by local architects include Elder Park and Botanic Park.

A draft scoping report analysing the need for an acoustic concert hall in Adelaide was handed to the State Government and key arts stakeholders in August.

Several multi-million-dollar concert halls across the globe were analysed as case studies, including Melbourne’s Recital Centre and Ian Potter Southbank Centre, The Sage music centre in Gateshead in the United Kingdom, EMPAC and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Singapore’s Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the Tongyeong International Music Hall in South Korea.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra managing director Vince Ciccarello has long-called for the State Government to invest in a concert hall, telling InDaily previously that the orchestra’s most regular performance venue, the Adelaide Town Hall, placed the ASO at a disadvantage as it had inadequate capacity and facilities.

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