"I came to the Mitchell Conservatorium [MitCon] at a time where conservatoriums were trending away from their proud traditions to create a modern, more inclusive identity, and with our fabulous staff and the community's wonderful support, I feel we've achieved this."
These are the closing sentiments of outgoing MitCon executive director Graham Sattler who, after nearly eight years, is moving on from the role for an exciting opportunity in New Zealand.
This means Dr Sattler will also bid goodbye to the Central West after two decades of dedication to regional music education and development, as he prepares to commence his new role as chief executive officer of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in November.
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After eight years in Bathurst, and previously 12 years as Orange Regional Conservatorium director, Dr Sattler said he's leaving the Central West with a very heavy heart.
"I do have mixed feelings in that the MitCon community and broader Bathurst community has, from the outset, been genuinely supportive and keen to back our programs," he said.
"What makes it feel like the right time to move on is the fact MitCon is in such a positive and exciting position to grow into the future, and the success of the past eight years is not at all an individual effort, our lovely staff, and Bathurst in general, have been incredibly kind to us."
Dr Sattler's tenure at MitCon has seen the institution undergo great change, with the 'Con' diversifying its musical offerings [i.e. music production, culturally-diverse programs] to reflect a 21st century environment.
"Our community engagement is something I'm very proud of, as I'm true believer in the fact that music education and participation is for everyone, regardless of skill level," Dr Sattler said.
"Music is the most accessible group activity on the planet, and now MitCon has a location to truly call its own within Bathurst's burgeoning arts precinct, I'm hopeful that sense of accessibility and a communal love of music will continue to thrive."
Dr Sattler said the lessons he's learned about community participation and engagement through music in the Central West will stay with him as he heads to Christchurch to embrace a brand new culture.
"When I moved to the Central West from Sydney 20 years ago, and I was only meant to be here originally for a couple of years, and what kept me here is the outstanding sense of community," he said.
"This new role will also be community-centric, and while the culture will no doubt be different, this orchestra implements community outreach as core business, whether it be working with dance groups for people with a disability or people released from incarceration."
"I'm very excited, but I'll never forget MitCon."
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