In Memory of Sylvie Stern

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Thursday, 22 January 15   |   Author: Allan Sko   |   3 days, 17 hours ago

Wow. Just… Wow.

Certain things come along in life that floor you. That leave you stunned. 

To learn that Sylvie Stern died Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer is one of those moments.

To learn that someone so full of life - SO full of life - is no longer with us is enough to make you stare blankly at a wall and forget about whatever it is you were so worried about previously.

Sylvie was the epitome of an Arts Advocate. It’s customary to cite a person’s achievements upon their death - that she studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, lived in London and New York, recorded with Donna Summer, worked with The Four Tops and Bo Diddley, ran the wonderfully infamous Heaven Nightclub, was a longterm host of 2XX - but Sylvie was more than a simple reading of a CV. She bristled with personality. Positively burst with it. Her energy was infectious if not sometimes overwhelming.

Like many artists in Canberra, BMA was good friends with Sylvie. I remember 12 years ago - in those terrifying opening months of being the BMA Editor - Sylvie would come into the office at Gorman House Arts Centre and chew my ear off about some exciting thing going on that I simply HAD to cover, words tumbling out of her mouth while my blood pressure rose and rose as I panicked about getting the mag done before deadline.

Looking back, I treasure those moments.

You could argue it’s too soon for the Celebratory side of this. We’re still very much in Mourning, many of us in shock. I know I am. But as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling at 3am this morning turning this event over, I found a smile creep on my face. Because there IS so much to celebrate about Sylvie Stern. She certainly didn’t waste her oxygen. She always had something on the go, someone to promote, something to be excited about. She was grateful for every teeny tiny little thing you did for her. When we did our Exhibition last year celebrating BMA turning 21 she was vital in not only providing scores of wonderful flyers and posters from gigs past to display, but she promoted it on her 2XX show. That was Sylvie… Always, always promoting and supporting other people.

I miss that. I miss her.

Now it’s our turn to promote her. We have lost a special person this week. But we are much richer for having known her.

Back in the ‘90s, Sylvie used to run Heaven. I’d like to think she’s doing the same right now.



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