Ngeringa Cultural Centre – a symphony in nature
Waking up on a clear October day in the Adelaide Hills draped in green gums, Ulrike Klein thought if this was to be her new home it would be wonderful.
It was 1983 and she has never felt any differently since that day.
A philanthropist and connoisseur of music, Klein says, “Lifestyle is about culture, good local food and wine.”
“To have that combination with four distinct seasons, clean beaches, blue skies, no traffic jams and festivals galore is what makes South Australia so special for me.”
She confesses that despite being very German at heart, she has never felt homesick. But she did find Australia to be very sports focused, unlike Europe – where art and culture are an integral part of the society. As a parent of four young kids, she wanted to create a balance.
“I thought if we can’t find culture, let’s just create it and out of that came this whole idea to do a concert first in the Jurlique factory and then on the farm,” the trained horticulturalist, who along with her former husband founded Jurlique, an internationally successful plant-based skin care range in 1985, which they sold in 2002.
Klein says: “Music, culture and nature makes us who we are as people. The three elements have always been a huge part of me, my children and now my grandchildren.”
To promote music and art, she founded Ngeringa Arts in 2009 and dreamt of having a purpose-built hall for chamber music.
Her vision was realised with the opening of the Ngeringa Cultural Centre on the Ngeringa Farm last August. The hexagonal, all wood, domed ceiling, 220-seat auditorium, which she describes as “a string musical instrument in its own right”, opened to a full house.
The audience sits up close to the musicians in a semicircle around the stage.
“It is intimate and personal, keeping in the character of chamber music. The music almost envelopes the audience and the special acoustics make even the slightest nuance heard.”
There is a 4m glass window behind the stage, offering the audience beautiful vistas of the Mount Barker summit.
Klein says: “I wanted this dialogue between nature, music and culture, which is very unusual. Music is about a moment, being in a state of timelessness for that period the piece is played, and then experience that in nature. During winter evenings, one can see the sun setting and the moon rising over the summit. I think that is really special.”
The Centre is Klein’s salutation to music and the landscape she fell in love with over three decades ago and now calls home.’