1964 - 1965
Professor of Music, Composer
‘When in 1996 I was awarded the AM in the Order of Australia, undoubtedly a career highlight, I was especially touched that it was ‘for services to music as a composer and educator’. These activities are, for me, intertwined: as Professor of Music and Head of the Department of Music in the University of Sydney since 1990, I spend as much time with my students as I do at my desk composing – probably more. My other academic positions since leaving the University in 1969 have been at the University of Sussex (1972-1977) and at the University of Hong Kong (1981-1990) where I was reader and founding Head of Music. My only child Helen-Louise was born in Hong Kong in 1983. I was and remain a single parent who counts mothering as more significant than any of my professional achievements.
An orphan myself, my time in Women’s College was especially important in providing a secure environment in which to make the transition to independence. Doreen Langley, as Principal, was blessed with insight and a special humanity. She was an inspiring role model and her attitude that “women can achieve anything” was decisive. I made lifelong friendships in College which, if at times neglected, have nevertheless been of enduring significance. Most importantly, College gave me access to a feeling of full membership of the University of Sydney – as a kind of extended family. There is no substitute for living on campus for establishing this in young people. It is a joy, even in times blighted by the horrors of economic rationalism, to be able to serve this University. However, ‘user-pays’ principles seem to me to be a recipe for the creation of a society without a heart; it worries me to observe the university travelling along this path.
I love modern Australia’s multi-culturalism. In the 60’s looking to Asia for inspiration was considered odd and even undesirable. Now one inhabits a world in which one can accept Europe and Asia equally and regard oneself as an Australian. A major challenge is to assist the next generation of Australian women composers achieve real equality so that their music is not side-streamed but mainstreamed. The royalties from my ABC Classics disc Meditations on a Chinese Character (1997) supports the Australian Women’s Music Fund which aims to assist women composers achieve their goals.’
Women’s College Journal, 2000