When Dame Merlyn Myer opened the original Myer Music School on 10 December 1960, it represented a watershed moment in Melbourne Grammar’s history of encouraging the performing arts. The building’s cost, £23,843, was not only a significant gift from the extended Myer family and the Myer Trust, but an investment in the school’s future.
The opening of the Myer Music School, immediately after Speech Day, allowed students, staff and parents to file out of The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall, across Bromby Street, and into Domain Street to witness proceedings. After the ceremony, the crowd inspected the building that had been designed by architects Mockridge, Stahle and (George) Mitchell (OM 1933). Constructed of blue-grey bricks to match the Centenary Building, it was topped with a modern inverted roofline. Ten soundproof and acoustically engineered rehearsal rooms occupied the ground floor. The top storey provided a gramophone room with a radiogram and space for the large library of 3,000 records which had been bequeathed to the school by Dr Cecil McAdam (OM 1908), as well as a large studio for rehearsals of the choir, orchestra, large chamber groups, House singing, and recitals. The Myer Music School quickly became the envy of other schools, and contributed to the extraordinary progress of Melbourne Grammar’s young musicians.
Sixty-one years later, the Myer Music School has been redeveloped, again with the generous support of the Myer family. The new music facilities contain two performance areas, digital recording studios, extra studios and practice rooms, and will inspire many future generations of young Melbourne Grammar musicians.
Designed by Peter Elliott Architects, the redevelopment connects the original Music School building to the former residence at 3 Bromby Street via a new infill building, creating an integrated complex. The infill building, which comprises ground and basement levels, together with the additional area now made available at 3 Bromby Street significantly expands the space available for music-making.
A lift and a bridge walkway facilitate the direct transfer of equipment and instruments between studios enabling individual practice configurations. Audio-visual recording, playback and communication links between the various studios across the complement assist with performance rehearsals.
The façade of the complex has been designed to match the setback and rhythm of the surrounds with honed concrete masonry of matching scale and materiality and other finishes which acknowledge the render and finish of the original Myer Music School.
The Myer Music School complex forms part of the music and performance spaces within our Senior School. Other areas include the Shelmerdine Music Studio which was opened in 2006, with the support of another member of the Myer family, Lady Southey AC in memory of her late husband Ross Shelmerdine (OM 1937). It provides an underground rehearsal and teaching space that offers a soundproof studio and concert venue for recitals and lunchtime performances.
These complement The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall – a space where the Senior School gathers for remembrances, assemblies, concerts, and celebrations. With a full theatre fit-out and a descending orchestra pit, it also hosts many theatrical productions each year.
An official opening of the ‘new’ Myer Music School will be held later this year.