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ASRA Conference 1998

The annual conference of the association took place in Canberra at the National Library of Australia between the 16th and 19th of April. The theme was the sounds of Irish-Australian popular culture, under the romantic title of The Shamrock and the Wattle.

The conference was preceded by a one-day technical workshop, Sound Archiving: Described. This was organised by Kevin Bradley of the NLA, and drew on the skills of many professionals working in the sound collections of the library, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. They were practically based sessions and drew about 70 delegates. This focus on the future of sound archiving has been encouraged by ASRA in recent years and is seen as a way forward in re-defining the work of association. It was a very successful exercise and will form a major part of future conferences.

Dr Jeff Brownrigg of the NFSA organised the more traditional part of the conference, which began on Friday the 17th. Delegates were welcomed in the great foyer of the National Library of Australia by the Director-General of the library Warren Horton. Pat Bourke represented the Irish Ambassador and the group was welcomed in Gaelic as well as English.

The keynote address was given by Brian Kennedy, the newly appointed director of the National Gallery. His address, Australian character and the Irish, some thoughts from a new arrival, was absorbing and thought provoking. Jeff Brownrigg then gave a paper, Irish Teaching Orders and Australian Divas: the Irish Australian Nightingales (and others) on disc and cylinder. Robyn Holmes from ANU Music spoke about Alfred O'Shea, Bruce Skilton from the NFSA dealt will pianist Eileen Joyce: Filmstar of the Soundtrack, and Ron White presented the recordings of Peter O'Shaugnessy. There were many more presentations along similar lines and at the conference dinner delegates celebrated the recipients of the 1988 ASRA Awards for Excellence. Dr David Rentz, of the CSIRO Division of Entomology, for his contribution to nature sound recordings, and Cyrus Meher-Homji, for his contribution to classical music and recordings in Australia.

The old committee was re-elected, with James McCarthy standing down as President and Dr Jeff Brownrigg the new incumbent. The new president is encouraging us to look at least two years ahead in the planning of our conferences as a means of maximising publicity and enlarging our constituency.

James McCarthy
(President of ASRA, 1998)



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