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James Koehne

Over almost thirty years in the Australian music industry, James Koehne has established a career encompassing arts administration, public policy development and professional writing. Jim has engaged intensively with issues about classical music’s current situation and future prospects both at the production “coalface” and in his writings, and brings a unique and thorough perspective to addressing the industry’s challenges and opportunities.

As an administrator and policy adviser, he has worked in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. His career in music management began in 1982, when he was Music Officer with the Arts Council of the ACT in Canberra. He served as Music and Dance Executive with the Victorian Ministry for the Arts (now Arts Victoria) for eight years, where he played an active role in the establishment of Chamber Made Opera, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and the Contemporary Music Events Company. As Policy Adviser at the ABC in Sydney from 1993 to 1997, he managed the process of the corporatisation of the six symphony orchestras, involving extensive co-ordination with the ABC Board and with Federal and State Governments. He has worked as a music administrator and programmer for several ensembles and was Music Adviser to the 1990 Adelaide Festival. From 1997 until March of this year, he was Artistic Administrator and Manager of Artistic Planning for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Jim has pursued an active parallel career as a writer, encompassing everything from promotional copy (for the Melbourne International Festival, Adelaide Festival, and the New Zealand and Sydney Symphony orchestras, among others) to serious scholarly essays, covering music literally from Bach to Bacharach. Major essays and articles have appeared in Meanjin, Quadrant, The Age Monthly Review and The Australian Financial Review, and a controversial essay, “The Flight from Banality”, in the collection of studies of Bad Music published by Routledge.

He is currently tutoring in music history at the Elder Conservatorium of the University of Adelaide, and striving to complete his Ph. D, an examination of Australian “Light Music”.