Melba Recordings

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Terry Lane's reponse to ArtsHub article re the funding of Melba Foundation

Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 12:37pm

Let's start with a disclaimer: I am not writing as a disinterested observer. I am on the board of the Melba Foundation and have supported and encouraged Maria Vandamme from the time she first proposed the Melba project. So, I am biased. But here are the facts.

When Maria took her proposal for a foundation and a record company to the then Liberal federal government she had a vision. She wanted to create a record company that would give our musicians the chance to be presented to the world with the highest standards of recording technology and overall production.

To that end she was proposing using super audio compact disc surround sound technology and packaging the records in luxurious cases, beautifully designed and manufactured.

The government liked the idea and allocated money for the realisation of the vision.

And here's the important point: It was open to Move or Tall Poppies or anyone else to come up with a similar plan. She did not receive any special treatment. She had a good idea, presented it well and was successful in gaining support. Why the outrage and the jealousy?

To talk of "peer review" of this process is ludicrous. Which peers? Those who are miffed that they didn't think of it first?

At this time when music distribution is in transition from disc to download no record company is making a profit from classical music. But recording classical music, to the highest standards, is akin to running an art gallery. It is about archiving the world and for future generations the very best performances by the best artists of this place and time. We don't expect a public gallery to make a profit -- we don't even charge for entry.

The government has more than had its money's worth from Melba. The number of reviews from the UK, Europe and the US that run on the theme: Australia? Who would ever have thought it? One American reviewer wrote that after hearing the Australian Youth Orchestra recording of Shostakovich's tenth that he had to revise his whole thinking about youth orchestras.

Enough of the mean spirited, bitter jealousy. Why can't we take a little pleasure in each other's success rather than seeing one person's achievement as somehow being at our expense?

Terry Lane, Melbourne, Australia