History of Music at UNSW

Many might be surprised to learn, but music has been a thriving activity at UNSW for some 50 years. The founder of the original Department of Music and many related music activities was Emeritus Professor Roger Covell. When Roger joined the academic staff in 1966 he taught courses across several faculties, established concerts, then developed a chamber opera company and vocal ensembles. The inauguration of the resident chamber group, the Australia Ensemble, followed in 1980, as well as the university’s Collegium Musicum Choir, and eventually the UNSW Orchestra and Wind Symphony. He was assisted in all this by his colleague and future wife, Dr Patricia Brown, who came to UNSW in 1975. Other founding colleagues were appointed in the late 1980s (first Dr Jill Stubington, then Dr Christine Logan) enabling the department to offer a greater range of courses and performance opportunities.

The Department began offering degrees in music in 1986, growing into a School of Music and Music Education by the early 1990s and eventually becoming a discipline in the current School of the Arts & Media, UNSW Arts & Social Sciences.

Roger Covell Birthday Celebrations

In 2016, Roger Covell’s 85th birthday was celebrated with a symposium that recaptured his extraordinary contribution to music and culture at UNSW, in Sydney and more broadly in Australia.

Download a PDF of the book created for the event: Roger Covell at 85: A Tribute by His Colleagues and Students (PDF) [4 Mb]

Photos from the event:
1. Introduction by Ian Jacobs, Vice Chancellor, UNSW Australia.
2. Reminiscing over photos of the UNSW Opera. 
3. One of the performances on the day. This one by UNSW Music students.
4. Roger Covell.