Notable Alumni

Student profiles 

Keegan Joyce low resKeegan Joyce
Bachelor of Music Studies 2014
Green Room Award (Best Musical) –
Once: A new Musical

Actors Equity Award (Best Drama Ensemble) – Rake Series 1 & 3

“Toward the end of my high-school education I became more and more interested in music analysis and theory. There is no better place in Australia to study Musicology so it was an easy choice.

“At the Conservatorium, my degree covered the majority of general music history, but my main interests quickly became choral music and Gregorian chant. I was lucky enough to join the Chamber Choir on tour in Europe, and sang at the Notre Dame Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. I will never forget that experience.

“The sheer amount of music and similarly inclined people you are surrounded by at the Conservatorium is enough of an education in itself – let along your classes!”

Keegan has worked on stage, in film and television and most recently has enjoyed success in three award-winning series of Rake for the ABC. In 2014 Keegan finished his degree in Musicology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also played Arnold in the second season of Please Like Me for ABC2 and Pivot TV. Keegan returned to the stage in 2014 with Once: A new Musical, playing the bass, ukulele, and guitar as the character Andrej. Keegan has worked with some of Australia’s most celebrated performers and industry professionals. He has a wide range of musical skills and recently sang tenor for a Gregorian Chant album produced by the ABC, a particular musicological interest of his.

Michelle Leonard 1 croppedMichelle Leonard
Bachelor of Music Education, 1992
Founder/Artistic Director, Moorambilla Voices and 
Leichhardt Espresso Chorus
Commissioned 150th choral work in 2015

“I am the founder, artistic director and conductor of Moorambilla Voices and the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus. In these roles I have worked over many years to establish ensembles that support through commissioning, performance and recording Australian music and cross art from collaborations.

“In music education we were taught: On time is late! Have a very clear educational philosophy and you will succeed in any educational environment. Positive praise and reinforcement is 10 times more powerful than negative in any context. Any choir, in any form is a wonderful and magnificent thing! I also learnt that percussionists were the best people to hang out with – they listened to everything and could play in any style.

“I had an incredible cohort who really challenged the notion that people doing education couldn’t play their instrument. Many have gone on to be leaders in their field because we were given the option to succeed as performers at a time when weekly ensemble rehearsals and 40 hour weeks with 20 subjects a semester in the old Con building were the norm. My literature lecturer, the infamous Erna Bollard, was a beacon of creativity and demanded that we look beyond the walls of the Con for artistic inspiration. Erna often took us out if she felt we were ‘stale’ – we even did a class in David Jones so we could smell the wonderful spring flowers before we read poetry! She wasn’t interested in anything other than our best.

“Experiences like this helped me define who I was at an impressionable time, and helped clarify why music was such a powerful medium of communication in any genre. The Con reminded me in many ways that there is excellence in every musical sphere and that life is full of creative possibilities if you are brave enough.”

AOF Solti Dirigentenwettbewerb_150222_135052__D4N1038 low res

Toby Thatcher
Bachelor of Music (Performance, oboe) 2011
Assistant Conductor, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

“Since May 2015, I have been Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Since graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, I have been fortunate enough to perform with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, as well as touring with the Australian Youth Orchestra. I am looking forward to a future 12 months which see my professional European conducting debut as well as several performances in Australia.

“My teachers were a great inspiration, particularly Shefali Prior (SSO Associate Principal Oboe) and Guy Henderson (SSO ex-Principal Oboe). Christopher Cowie (Philharmonia Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Principal Oboe) gave me opportunities I could have only dreamed of, and I owe him an enormous amount. He showed unbelievable amounts of faith in me.

“The Sydney Conservatorium of Music allowed me the space to create my own experiences, accommodating my orchestral projects in Australia and overseas, which was enormously beneficial to my musical development and without which I would not be where I am today.”

Sonja Schebeck_Fire_c Louis Bloomfield Photography croppedSonja Schebeck
Bachelor of Music (Performance, violin) 2009
Finalist – ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards (Australia) 2010 and 2015

“My time at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2004–09) was a period of many changes, but the staff and the subjects on offer when I began were fantastic. I was able to study sound recording and music technology, which have become very handy, as well as specialist history courses such as Russian music history which were amazing. Looking back, I can also say that the orchestral training was very comprehensive.

“I was drawn to the Conservatorium by the great string, accompaniment and ensemble faculties and in particular my wonderful violin teacher Christopher Kimber. Christopher passed on his wisdom and experiences of being an international performer. His personality, strength of character and wholistic approach made me think not only as a violinist but as an artist. He always encouraged my creativity, taught me to follow my instincts and to develop my own voice which gave me the support and confidence to pursue my own path in music.

“The biggest lesson I took away is that you need to stand up for what you believe in and create your own opportunities. Students were given the confidence to try, and when faced with challenges, to create change for the better – and enjoy ourselves at the same time.

“It was also during my studies at the Conservatorium that I met some amazing like-minded peers including my creative partner, composer Chloé Charody, through our mutual desire to explore different ways of presenting classical music. It’s a collaboration which continues to this day and has yielded some great projects and successes, both here and in Europe/UK.”

Sonja maintains a diverse portfolio of projects with a special focus on fusing classical music with elements of modern circus, fire performance and physical theatre and exploring new avenues in presentation. Since April 2010 she has toured extensively across Europe/UK and Australia as duo-partner to Nigel Kennedy, member his ‘Orchestra of Life’ and guest musician with the Nigel Kennedy Jazz Quintet. She leads the Extra Sounds Ensemble (Krakow), whose debut CD ‘Metamorphoses’ with Alicja Smietana and Pekka Kuusisto was released April 2015. She also guests regularly with groups such as the Wiener Symphoniker, English Session Orchestra and Concertino Wien.

_BPS2397_8x12 low resAndrew Batt-Rawden
Bachelor of Music (Composition) 2007
publisher, composer, entrepreneur

“The Con is full of ambitious, talented people. I was surrounded by an eclectic mix of medieval music enthusiasts, hard-core electroacoustic nerds, romanticists, people doing double degrees, students exploring their own capabilities and the possibilities the world might bring.

“I am sole proprietor of Arts Illuminated (publisher of Limelight Magazine), a founder of the Limelight Trust, the artistic director of the Bellingen Music Festival, curator of the Vivid at Seymour New Wave Sound program and founder of Arts Initiative Australia Ltd – a company to support capacity building for arts and artists. I am also on the artistic advisory panel for the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, the peer assessment panel for the Australia Council for the Arts and a board member of Chronology Arts. I compose a lot of music (this year I have 10 commissions) and do some mentoring. I’m happy to be writing for various ensembles and performers for events in Australia and overseas. My first album was released in 2013, and I plan to release my second one later this year.

“Self discipline is the key to unlocking your full potential. You have to forge your own path, your own connections and your own skills mix. Don’t wait for opportunity; make it for yourself and others.”