The radio station on Sydney’s North Shore has opened a brand new educational hub to nurture new audiences for classical music.

Sydney’s independent classical music and jazz radio station Fine Music 102.5 (formerly 2MBS FM) has officially opened their brand new Learning Centre. The space, adjacent to the studio in St. Leonards, has been specifically designed to nurture new audiences for classical music.

The opening ceremony took place on February 19, with former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke and his wife Blanche d’Alpuget in attendance, as well as Federal Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman, who concluded the proceedings by acknowledging the important of music education in Australia. Also present were young musicians such as cellist Benett Tsai, who recently won the 2016 Fine Music Network Young Virtuoso Award.

The keynote speech was delivered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 28-year-old Assistant Conductor Toby Thatcher, who spoke of “classical music as an engaging, visceral, confronting experience that is entirely capable of being enjoyed by all ages and demographics alike.”

“When it comes to educating and informing young people, rather than attempting to simplify, with a belief that the issue is over-intellectualisation; rather than reducing the learning curve, with a belief that people don’t have the information at their disposal regarding the arts that they did in previous generations; why don’t we do more to offer them ways to approach what we love?” Thatcher said. “Why don’t we make effort to suggest several routes to understanding the content? A fear of the intellectual, or the difficult to grasp, leads us down the ‘anti-professional’ path, and away from a wonder and joy in the acquisition of knowledge and the power that holds.”

Thatcher played a video of the Australian Youth Orchestra’s 2010 performance of Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony at the 2010 BBC Proms, concluding: “If young people don’t find that exciting, we haven’t done enough to provide them with the tools to appreciate it.”

The Fine Music Learning Centre will be open for classes and activities to encourage all ages to take an interest in music all year round. Events will be posted on the Fine Music website.

Conductor and educator Richard Gill has also sung the Learning Centre’s praises in his regular column in the March Issue of Limelight. “Here is an example of a community radio station displaying wonderful initiative and great enterprise,” he said. “This initiative is a powerful example of the way in which an enlightened group of people can effect change for the common good. Well done, Fine Music!”