Work begins to transform the Concert Hall for a new era

“When it was designed and built nobody thought that rock bands or circuses or talks would be held in the Concert Hall,” Fiona Winning says. “It just wasn’t done at that time. Rock’n’roll was just not something that would be held in an opera house.” Yet within a year of its opening in 1973, the Concert Hall stage was hosting two iconic Australian rock bands: Sydney sons Sherbet had already had a number of Top 10 hits while Melbourne’s Skyhooks, appearing in their first Sydney gig, had just released their first album Livin’ in the 70s, which would go on to sell more than 300,000 copies. The latter took to the stage in outlandish costumes and make-up and opened with You Just Like Me Cause I’m Good in Bed – one of six songs on their album that had been banned from radio. This boundary-pushing performance foreshadowed some of the groundbreaking acts that would grace the Concert Hall stage decades later.

The challenge of eliminating corruption from Indonesia

Long hours and a lot of pressure. That’s a fact of life for Laode Syarif (PhD (Law) ’08), who is one of only five anti-corruption commissioners in Indonesia’s Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Corruption Eradication Commission), or KPK. “It is a very dangerous job,” Syarif says. “It affects my life a lot – not just for myself but my family and even my mum. My sons, when they go to school, they must be accompanied by police officers every day.”

Theatre, movies and the photographer who loves them

There are times when it can be hard to squeeze into the schedule of Lisa Tomasetti (MDP ’12). When SAM contacted her, she was working on two television series in Sydney (she can’t disclose their titles) and preparing a series of eight large-scale images for the 2019 Head On Photo Festival, which displays photographic works in public spaces and galleries across the city. “My life is not normally this crazy,” she says. “But all these TV series and films suddenly just came up. Sometimes it’s really busy and sometimes it’s not. It’s a great problem to have.”

University of Sydney Alumni Awards: Rhett (David) Butler AM

At least 2 billion people worldwide drink water from a contaminated source, according to the World Health Organisation. Mechanical engineer Rhett Butler witnessed this firsthand, as he travelled the world for Australian startup enterprise MEMCOR. The company had developed an automated membrane water filtration system, and it was his job to liaise with its clients. But over time, he became troubled that the price of these systems was expensive and out of reach for people who most needed it.

University of Sydney Alumni Awards: Dr Elizabeth New

Elizabeth New (BSc (Adv)(Hons) ’06 MSc ’07) was eight when she did her first science experiment at the University of Sydney. Her mother pricked her own finger, and together they looked at the blood under a microscope in her father’s lab. “It was warm, so the cells were still moving around each other and it was fascinating to see all of the different types of cells that made up the blood,” she says. Elizabeth, who is now an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney where her father lectured in microbiology, can draw a direct line between her childhood experiments and where she is today.

A musical journey from west to east

Singer-songwriter Thanh Bui describes himself as “180 west and 180 east; together they make 360”. Bui is the son of asylum seekers who fled Communist Vietnam for Australia in the ’80s. A passion for music led him from boy band to Australian Idol finalist in 2008 to composer of No. 1 hits, before he decided to take everything he had learnt in Australia back to share with the people of his parents’ homeland. Bui now lives in Ho Chi Minh City, where he has set up a music school he is developing into an arts education and entertainment empire.