Sound Chapel plan now closer to reality with state funding

Cobar Shire Council general manager Peter Vlatko, Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries, NSW Premier’s Department representative Suzanne Gillham, deputy mayor Peter Abbott, Nationals candidate for Barwon Andrew Schier and council’s Angela Shepherd were thrilled with the announcement of funding for the Sound Chapel project last Wednesday.

The idea to build a Sound Chapel in Cobar’s old Silver Tank, which at first sounded like the folly of an eccentric musician, is now set to become a reality.

Nationals State Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries and Nationals candidate for Barwon, Andrew Shier were in Cobar last Wednesday to hand over $200,000 in grant funding which will see the Sound Chapel, an idea of which has been 10 years in the making, come to fruition.

Mr Humphries said he had supported the project since leading Australian composer Georges Lentz first visited the region in 2008 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
and talked about his idea to build a Sound Chapel.

“This new landmark will combine nature, music, art and architecture and is something you would expect to find in a major city,” Mr Humphries said on Wednesday.

“An abandoned town water tank [Silver Tank] will be converted into an intimate arts venue and sound installation.

“Inside the 10 by 10 metre tank a five by five metre chapel will be built with an open roof to let the music spill out into nature.

“It will marry together classical music and 21st century music software skills, with the music composed and recorded specifically for the Sound Chapel, inspired by Georges’ longstanding passion for the outback, Aboriginal art and the spirituality of the outback’s night skies,” Mr Humphries said.

“Ultimately the plan is to offer a yearly live-music festival with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, combined with an Indigenous art exhibition inside the chapel, and school activities.”

Cobar Shire Council’s mayor Lilliane Brady has advocated for the chapel along with Mr Lentz since 2008 and council were pleased the project has been funded and can get moving.

Mr Lentz was “very excited” when he heard the news last week.

He said he plans to immediately get in touch with his engineer to begin preliminary work and also contact the project’s internationally acclaimed architect, Glenn Murcutt.

“The music’s ready, the plan’s ready, we’ve got it all together ready to go,” Mr Lentz said.

Mr Lentz also has seven hours of recorded music ready for the project to go ahead.

“I’m going to do my utmost to make this happen in 2019 and I would love it if we could have our first live music festival by the end of the year,” he told The Cobar Weekly.

NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole said the Sound Chapel grant has been funded through the Clubgrants Category 3 Infrastructure Grants program.

“More than $50 million in funding is being provided during this current term of government for projects across sport and recreation, emergency preparedness, and arts and culture,” Mr Toole said.

These grants are funded by a contribution from the state’s registered clubs to reinvest profits from gaming machines back into community projects.