General

Ralph Middenway offers a variety of professional services and products.

They come in three general categories, writer, editor & composer, but he has a couple of other strings to his bow.

Ralph Middenway

His changing career is built on a foundation of words and music.

This web site lists his skills. This page provides some personal background.

 

This website is updated periodically—last update May 2012.

 

Ralph was born in Sydney in 1932. (He reckons he improves with age, but the jury's out.)

He's a normal sort of Australian hybrid, British with a dash: a North American great-grandfather, a veteran of the US Civil War, paid his fare; another, a mestizo from South America, arrived as a convict.

At Sydney High and later Sydney University he started with languages, switched to Engineering, then finally got it right with Music, Anthropology and Linguistics. The musical ‘moment of truth’ was when he heard the choir of Sydney University Musical Society rehearsing the stunning Bach motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied.

At university he mixed work and play: studied part-time, sang a lot, wrote stage music for Leo Schofield and Ken Horler, and was in a Uni Revue with Robert Hughes. He got caught up in another, along with Clive James, but it was generally agreed to have been the worst ever and each prefers to forget it.

Out of the blue came an invitation to teach music and drama at Tudor House, Moss Vale - no teaching qualifications needed in those days in private schools. He stayed seven years.

For the next twelve years he worked at Adelaide University Union, ending up as its CEO. He initiated its major rebuilding, a nine-year project he ran as Client.
Robert Dickson was the Architect.
The building is listed on the State Heritage Register.

In 2006 he was invited by the RAIA to its Annual Conference in Adelaide, where the building was acknowledged as the most significant building in South Australia since World War 2.

AUU - (Site copyright Ralph Middenway)

Then he was head-hunted to set up and manage the Parks Community Centre, a State Government statutory authority. It was the same sort of job as at the Union, although the building project was much more elaborate, and most of the clients were public housing tenants. Colin Norton was the Architect.

For both projects he was Theatre Consultant.

Since then he has combined the freelance occupations of composer, writer and editor.

And flower farmer: as Executive Chair of the Flower Growers Section of the South Australian Farmers Federation he acted as Client for a Federally-funded review of the industry.  

He was active in the musical life of Adelaide from his arrival there, although less so after he and his wife went bush. In 1965 he started tutoring and lecturing on music and theatre (for Adult Education and WEA, among others), and writing about music for the AU Adult Education journal. In 1966 he conducted a concert series for the Adelaide Festival, and in 1968 another for the SA Art Gallery. In 1979 and 1981 he took part in ABC New Music Workshops. Over fifteen years he was Elder Conservatorium (honorary) opera production manager; for seven on the Music Faculty. He has 'done' the occasional broadcast. He was an adjudicator in a couple of eisteddfods (eisteddfodau if you're fussy). He was for a time an arts consultant to the SA Government.

His most conspicuous musical role, over twenty years, was as (sometime Chief) Music and Opera Critic and feature writer for 'The Advertiser', with a stint on 'The Australian'. But for him the highlights have included performances of his music by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Australian String Quartet, and a season of his second opera Barossa, written on commission for the 1988 Australian Bicentennial.

Almost by accident he became Founding Chair of the Richard Wagner Society of South Australia Inc., for which he contributed to and co-edited a book of essays on Parsifal.

He has travelled overseas a bit, mostly on study projects in Europe, North America and Japan.

Aina, Ralph, Amy and Cara - (Site copyright Ralph Middenway)

For twenty years, he and his wife lived on their large native flower farm in bushland on the Fleurieu Peninsula, wine country - the nearest cellar door half an hour away.

But in December 2008 they moved to Hobart and live not far from Bellerive Oval, with a wonderful view of River, City and Mountain.

If you can't find them, they're in the high country in Tasmania, Victoria or (with any luck) New Zealand.

His three musical daughters live in Sydney, Nantes and Melbourne.