He was 74.
Australian impresario and festival director Clifford Hocking died Monday night (June 12) in a Melbourne hospital after suffering a stroke. He was 74.
Hocking is best remembered as launching the career of satirist Barry Humphries (who is famous for his alter ego Dame Edna Everage) in the 1960s. He was also awarded the government’s much-coveted Order of Australia medal in 1991.
“Over 40 years, he took risks with his tours but he always knew talent,” said David Vigo, managing director of Hocking-Vigo, their concert-promotion company. “He had a wide breadth of appreciation, from Indian ragas to jazz to flamenco. He brought that refinement to Australian audiences.”
Hocking emerged in the 1960s as operator of Thomas’s, Melbourne’s first classical music record store.
In 1962 he brought Indian sarod player Ali Akhbar Khan to Australia, and then flamenco guitarist Paco Pena, who would later return 16 times.
He also toured Indian sitarists Ravi Shankar and Nikkhil Banarjee, Cleo Laine, Sky, the Chieftains, Elvis Costello, the Harlem Gospel Choir and the Buena Vista Social Club.
He directed the Adelaide Arts Festival in 1990, and the 1997 Melbourne International Arts Festival, and set new attendance records.
In 2002, he was awarded the Cassius Award at the annual Helpmann Awards for services to the entertainment industry.
Friends remembered him as a man who stayed out of the spotlight, loved sailing around the world, and nurtured new talent. Hocking is survived by two older brothers.