Melbourne Recital Centre's Fifth Birthday Celebration

Life Membership

As part of Melbourne Recital Centre’s 10th Anniversary in 2019, we are delighted to celebrate a group of remarkable people whose contributions we acknowledge with Life Membership.

We are grateful to our Life Members for their support of the Centre and their passion for music. Discover more about our Life Members below.

Lin Bender AM

Lin Bender AM was the Centre’s Strategic Development Consultant prior to opening, responsible for bringing together the Music Industry Reference Group, architects ARM, acoustic engineers ARUP and many other stakeholders that developed the venue’s all-important design brief. Lin’s contribution to the Centre and music in Melbourne is vast and encompasses support for musicians, volunteerism and a passionate desire to support innovation.

Lin Bender AM was awarded Life Membership on 7 February 2019

Deborah Cheetham AO

Yorta Yorta woman, Deborah Cheetham AO is a singer, actor, composer, playwright, creator of Australia’s first Indigenous opera Pecan Summer, producer, artistic director and educator. She is passionate about an increased presence for Indigenous music and storytelling in the Centre’s program and has supported its implementation; including through her own performances, and her advice on the Centre’s first Yinga-bul festival and its first Reconciliation Action Plan. Her composition Song for Dulka Warngiid was written through the 2019 Merlyn Myer Music Commission and is inspired by the beautiful tapestry hanging in the Centre’s Level 2 Foyer.

Deborah Cheetham AO was awarded Life Membership on 27 May 2019

Jim Cousins AO

Jim Cousins AO was Chair of Melbourne Recital Centre from 2004-2010, a period encompassing the design, construction and early operation of the Centre. It is no exaggeration to say that without Jim, Melbourne Recital Centre would not be what it is today. He advocated for the highest standards of quality in the build, and facilitated important early corporate partnerships that gave the fledgling organisation the financial stability it needed to establish its highly-regarded artistic program. Jim’s sustained commitment to the Centre includes his work as Patron of the Encore Bequest Circle, with his wife Libby. .

Jim Cousins was awarded Life Membership on 6 September 2010

Kathryn Fagg AO

Kathryn Fagg was Chair of Melbourne Recital Centre from 2010-19, presiding over much of the Centre’s first 10 years of growth as the number of events grew to more than 600 per year and attendance increased to well over 200,000. Kathryn also oversaw substantial growth the Centre’s Endowment. During her tenure, Kathryn’s contribution included the embedding of a robust strategic and corporate planning regime, and a successful business model that delivers on artistic excellence supported by commercial activities and strong partnerships. Kathryn commissioned the composition Ballade from Elena Kats-Chernin in 2013 and has been a great champion of the Centre at every level – as a concert-goer, donor and advocate.

Kathryn Fagg was awarded Life Membership on 27 May 2019

Margaret Farren-Price and Ronald Farren-Price AM

Margaret Farren-Price and Ronald Farren-Price AM are beloved friends of the Centre, friends of music, and an inspiration to all who know them. They are devoted advocates of the Centre within their local and international music networks, and regular concert-goers whose commitment to music in Melbourne, and to generations of young Australian musicians who have benefitted from their generosity, wisdom and kindness as teachers and mentors is outstanding; as is Margaret’s service in governance and other volunteer roles at the Centre since 2012.

Margaret Farren-Price and Ronald Farren-Price AM were awarded Life Membership on 8 February 2019

Richard Gubbins

A great music experience requires three main ingredients – a great venue, great performers, and a great audience. Without the audience, musicians are just practicing in an empty room. Since the Centre opened in 2009, Richard Gubbins has achieved a remarkable record. He has attended more performances that anyone else, by a country mile, averaging three performances a week, every week since the Centre opened. He can be seen in the front row of the Primrose Potter Salon several times a week, and spends a great deal of time in addition volunteering for our Key Presenting Partners ANAM and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

Richard Gubbins was awarded Life Membership on 8 February 2019

Penny Hutchinson

Penny Hutchinson has been one of Melbourne Recital Centre’s greatest advocates, from before its doors opened, to now. As Director of Arts Victoria from 2000-2013, she was instrumental in the Centre’s development, design, funding and business model. Many major cultural infrastructure projects that changed Melbourne’s arts landscape occurred during her tenure at Arts Victoria, but as a musician herself, Penny has had a special, enduring affinity with the Centre and its program.

Penny Hutchinson was awarded Life Membership on 7 February 2019

Julie Kantor AO

Julie Kantor AO is one of the Centre’s longest-serving Board Directors (2009-2018). With her family, she is a Founding Benefactor of the Centre’s Public Fund. Through her personal philanthropy, Julie helped establish the Elisabeth Murdoch Creative Development Fund, the Great Romantics Competition (for which her foundation has provided the key prizes named in honour of her grandmother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE and Julie’s family), the Share the Music ticket and transport subsidy scheme for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and the Centre’s first Yinga-bul festival in 2016. Julie has been a wonderful advocate for the Centre and its diverse and growing artistic program since the beginning.

Julie Kantor AO was awarded Life Membership on 14 February 2017

Jordi Savall

Jordi Savall is an exceptional figure in today’s music world, as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new musical and cultural projects. He is one of the principal architects of the current reevaluation of historical music. Savall has performed at the Centre multiple times as a solo artist, as well as in partnership with Andrew Lawrence-King, Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya. His performances at the Centre have won three Helpmann Awards and have transformed audiences each and every time. The impact he has had on the performance of historical music across the globe is exceptional.

Jordi Savall was awarded Life Membership on 29 March 2019

Mary Vallentine AO

Mary Vallentine AO served as CEO from 2010-16 and perhaps more than anyone, represents the heart and soul of Melbourne Recital Centre. Under her leadership, the Centre’s presentations increased in diversity, bringing new audiences and enhancing its position as a cultural leader. At the same time, the Centre increased its focus on community engagement, learning and access, regional performance and digital programming – streams of activity that today reach close to 12,000 people each year. She was instrumental in establishing the Centre’s long-standing Great Performers, Local Heroes and Signature Event series. A lasting mark of her inspiring leadership is the Centre’s culture of collaboration with artists and other Australian music organisations, and the warm, welcoming customer service for which the Centre is known.

Mary Vallentine AO was awarded Life Membership on 27 May 2019

Richard Mills AM

Richard Mills AM’s association with Melbourne Recital Centre began years before the venue was built, when he was a member of the Industry Reference Group that helped develop the architects brief. Since then, Richard has been a Board Director (2009-12), and annual donor to the Elisabeth Murdoch Creative Development Fund (2010-18) in support of the Bach Competition, which he helped establish in 2010. He has continued to be one of the Competition’s adjudicators every year since. He is a passionate advocate for the teaching and playing of Bach as being formative for music students. Along with the Great Romantics Competition and Share the Music, the Bach Competition was one of the Centre’s first learning and access programs. Richard is highly regarded for his artistic leadership across the arts sector, exemplified by his roles as Artistic Director with Victorian Opera and West Australian Opera. He is in high demand as a conductor, and his prolific compositions span vocal, choral, orchestral, chamber and instrumental styles.

Richard Mills AM was awarded Life Membership on 13 December 2019

Stephen McIntyre AM

Stephen McIntyre AM is a distinguished and eminent Australian musician, born and bred in Melbourne, who has made a lasting impact on generations of young musicians. His influence as a teacher is astonishing, and his line-up of students forms the core of pianism in Melbourne today.

After initial studies in Melbourne, Stephen worked in France and Italy with Nadia Boulanger, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Guido Agosti. He has performed as soloist and chamber music player in many countries and was Head of Piano at the Victorian College of the Arts until 1993. His cycle of the complete piano music of Ravel won the National Critics Award. Stephen has performed as concerto soloist with all major Australian orchestras; he has presented solo recitals throughout Australia, and in the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, and India. He performed as chamber music partner with violinists Valery Klimov, Viktoria Mullova, and Nelli Shkolnikova, and for more than 20 years with the renowned Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma. Stephen was artistic advisor to Musica Viva in 1995-96, and Director of the chamber music program at Melbourne Festival from 1989-1999. He was Artistic Director of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival 2005-2009. In 2003 he was awarded the Sir Bernard Heinze Award and was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2007.

Stephen’s association with Melbourne Recital Centre goes back to 2012, when his 70th birthday was celebrated with a stellar line-up of former students and treasured colleagues. This performance generated the creation of the Contemporary Masters Award. Stephen has been a panel member for the Great Romantics Competition, is a regular concert artist and attendee, and remains a passionate and supportive advocate for the work of Melbourne Recital Centre.

Stephen McIntyre AM was awarded Life Membership on 23 November 2021.

Lady Primrose Potter AC

Lady Primrose Potter’s contribution to the arts and the Melbourne community is well-known. As a passionate advocate for musical excellence and artist development, Lady Potter has enjoyed a long-standing connection with Melbourne Recital Centre, initially inspired by her respect for our founding benefactor Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE.

In 2018 the Centre was pleased to acknowledge Lady Potter’s extraordinary support through naming the Primrose Potter Salon in her honour. As Salon Program Benefactor, Lady Potter’s contribution to Melbourne Recital Centre’s musical life goes beyond her transformative philanthropy. She is a staunch advocate for Australian musicians at all career stages, and she works tirelessly to encourage and support the lives and livelihoods of local artists, many of whom regularly bring the Centre life with their performances.

Lady Potter was a major contributor to the Centre’s Covid-19 Local Artist Appeal, and her founding support of this initiative played an important role in encouraging so many other to give to this important cause – ultimately raising over $2m to support employment and performance opportunities for artists.

Lady Primrose Potter AC was awarded Life Membership on 22 February 2023