URBANA — Karl Kramer, director of the University of Illinois School of Music, has resigned effective March 31 to take a new position in Sydney, Australia.
There, starting April 15, he will be dean and principal of the Sydney Conservatorium, next door to the famed Sydney Opera House. Part of the University of Sydney, the conservatorium has 120 faculty members and 1,015 students and includes a high school component.
The news of Kramer's resignation was to go out by email Tuesday morning to the UI School of Music's 90 faculty members, nearly half of whom he hired after arriving at the university 10 years ago from his position as dean of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music-State University of New York. Before that, he was dean of music at the New World School of the Arts in Miami.
Kramer, 54, said he's always wanted to live abroad and the timing was right for him to take the position in Australia. He said he wanted a new challenge and that he has accomplished the major goals he set for himself at Illinois.
One was building a jazz studies program, which is one of only a half a dozen nationwide to offer a doctoral degree. He called it "a huge success and source of joy."
Kramer also founded and was artistic director for the Allerton Music Barn Festival, which presents chamber music and jazz performances featuring internationally renowned performers as well as UI faculty artists.
He decided to start the annual festival after visiting Allerton Park and seeing the Dutch hay barn's soaring loft — then covered with pigeon droppings — and deciding it would make a great music venue.
Kramer also raised a substantial amount of money for the School of Music, resulting in endowed chairs, and solidified the strings program by bringing to the faculty the Pacifica Quartet, which since has won a Grammy Award. He also hired violinist Stefan Milenkovich, cellist Dmitry Kouzov and harpist Ann Yeung, now chair of the school's string division.
Kramer cited his hiring of conductor Eduardo Diazmunoz, saying his "huge personality" has been a great addition not only to the School of Music but also the community.
Kramer said his acceptance of the job in Sydney had nothing to do with the financial woes besetting the state of Illinois or with problems at the university.
"Illinois is a great, great institution," he said. "It's greater than any one person. It will always be a source of pride for everyone who lives in Illinois or graduates from Illinois."