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Paul Kildea is Musica Viva’s New Artistic Director

Paul Kildea Image credit: © Penny Bradfield
Graham Strahle
| July 2, 2019

Musica Viva has announced conductor and writer Paul Kildea as its new Artistic Director following Carl Vine’s decision to step down from the position after 21 years of service. Kildea starts in mid-2019 while Vine exits the organisation at the end of the year, allowing for a smooth process of transition.

Kildea’s appointment represents a turning point for Musica Viva in which not two, but three, people will now be leading the organisation. Hywel Sims came on board as CEO last December, replacing Mary Jo Capps, who had held the position for 19 years. Assisting him is Anne Frankenberg in the newly created position of Deputy CEO.

Kildea has signalled that he intends to build on Musica Viva’s existing programs, not embark on any radical change. He told Limelight magazine that his aim in the artistic director role will be “to keep our current audience and grow it through different types of music and different types of artists”.

He is indeed in a unique position to do this. Previously, Kildea was head of music for the Aldeburgh Festival 1999–2002 and artistic director of London’s Wigmore Hall in 2003–2005. He has also directed the Perth Festival’s chamber music series and, until 2016, the Four Winds Festival in Bermangui, NSW. On top of that he is author of two books under the Penguin imprint, Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century (2013) and Chopin’s Piano: A Journey Through Romanticism (2018).

Kildea’s brief at Musica Viva is larger than that of his predecessor. In addition to curating the organisation’s national concert season his job includes overseeing its much expanded education program, which now reaches 290,000 students around the country.

Sims says he is excited about Kildea’s appointment. “Thanks to the vision of our founders Musica Viva has, over the past 75 years, grown into a complex organisation. Though everything we do is dedicated to making Australia a more musical place, Paul will be the first Artistic Director to provide a unifying vision across all of our work. We’re excited by the possibilities that this change provides, and eager to get started on planning our next 75 years!”

Capps and Vine are to be praised for leaving the organisation in such great shape. With a resplendent concert program and a strong balance sheet that has doubled revenues since 1999, Musica Viva could not be better poised for the future.

It hosts the Huntington Estate Music Festival for the last time this year, in 16–24 November, since taking it over in 2006. In its place is Musica Viva’s new involvement in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition (MICMC). It has been this event’s producer since 2018, raising its profile nationally and internationally by attracting young ensembles from around the world.

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