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PhD in composition (third-year student), composer and professional saxophonist
“I don’t fit in a box, so to speak, so I needed a creative faculty that would allow me to choose a research topic that would incorporate both composition and performance.
“It is vital for a composer to have the opportunity to ‘workshop’ their music in a supportive and friendly working environment, such as the Con. Recently, I recorded some of my saxophone works for my PhD in the Verbrugghen Hall.
“To have access to the Con’s world-class facilities will ensure I produce outstanding quality recordings for my PhD portfolio.
“It is important to be a hard worker, persistent, inquisitive, and most importantly, to choose a research topic that you are passionate about. Think of a PhD as a ‘training-run’ for the future. Jump on every opportunity, and look at every opportunity as a stepping stone to success.”
“From a young age I felt drawn to music; it’s something that never ceases to open all my senses. I’ve had the chance to work with lots of different instruments and with many musical genres.
“Although classically trained, I’m currently veering more towards a contemporary approach that will not necessarily be percussion dominant, but will still include it.
“I’ve done numerous projects, including internal orchestral studies repertoire, solo recitals, work with composers and external drum lines, chamber ensembles and orchestral works.
“Being in such an enveloped music environment allows awareness of auditions and competitions that arise within your principal area of study. Pick something you love and pursue it.”
“The Con Opera School involves intensive learning in the domains of voice, performance skills and languages. In each semester there is a production, as well as concerts and masterclasses, which enable you to practise performing in real situations in different ways. It is a very practical course, with an opportunity to sing and practice your craft every day.
“Situated on the picturesque grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens, sipping coffee in the sun while spotting the sails of the Sydney Opera House, the beautiful building dripping with history adorned with pictures of alumni at every corner, how could you not be inspired.
“Studying to be an opera singer had been a long-held dream and getting into the Con Opera School is absolutely a dream come true. Having practised as an occupational therapist for 15 years, it finally came time to realise my own occupational aspirations and take the plunge into a massive life and career change and into the unknown. The opera school has been amazing – the staff caring, the students supportive and the experience wonderful. The expectations are high and the work intense but that’s what we’re here for.
“Being the centenary year with many special celebrations brought the fortuitous opportunity for me to be a soloist in Bernstein’s MASS at the Sydney Opera House. Now how amazing is that? What a thrill!”
“I am researching the impact of symphonic orchestrations on popular music since 1960. What makes an orchestration of a popular song effective? Why do pop artists want to perform with symphony orchestras? Are orchestras amenable to this? Do orchestras enhance popular music and if so, how? A concert showcasing pop songs without orchestration and then in combination with a symphony orchestra will demonstrate the findings of the research.
“In the DMA in Conducting degree at the Sydney Conservatorium, I get to study with a leading practitioner in his field – internationally renowned Maestro Eduardo Diazmuñoz. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Professor Diazmuñoz is not only a world-class orchestral and opera conductor but also a first-rate teacher. He gladly passes on his fountain of knowledge which he learned from Bernstein as well as the great Leon Barzin in Paris.
“The opportunities the DMA in Conducting have given me are immeasurable. Not only do I get to conduct live musicians every week and learn from the experience under the watchful of eye of international conductor Eduardo Diazmuñoz, but I also get to put newly learned techniques into practice in public performances. Last year, I conducted the contemporary American opera Little Women for the Opera School. This year, I will conduct the Conservatorium’s Symphony Orchestra in a program of Shostakovich, Sculthorpe and Malcolm Williamson.”
“The new Contemporary Music Practice offers an array of opportunities, allowing individual’s flexibility in choosing exactly what it is they want to study. The course offers an excellent selection of subjects ranging from performance, composition, aural and harmony training, history, sound recording, creative music technology, etc. The course also allows access to the Conservatorium’s many outstanding facilities, including the newly embellished and consistently updated recording studios.
“The SCM provides a warm and welcoming environment, allowing individuals to express their authentic creativity. The outstanding talent and drive of the students has been truly inspiring, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing musicians. Similarly, the academic advisors have taught me with an exceptional knowledge and experience of the art, and their undying passion for music is something that I will always treasure. I look forward to continuing my studies, growing and evolving as a musician, and embracing the endless opportunities the SCM unequivocally provides. I am truly honoured to be a student at such a prestigious academy.”
“I had always wanted a career involving the stage. After finishing school in rural NSW, I sought to find an institution that would enable me to achieve my dreams.
“The Sydney Conservatorium of Music has been helping me develop skills vital to the career I have chosen. From music theory to performance opportunities, the Conservatorium offers an extremely thorough musical education.
“Being able to study within a tight-knit community with whom I can share my journey has been invaluable. Fellow students across a variety of disciplines inspire me on a daily basis, whilst teachers and mentors are preparing me for the realities of the performance profession.
“The Conservatorium’s campus is at the heart of a vibrant artistic city. Having the chance to work on musical projects with Conservatorium members in venue’s including the Sydney Opera House has been extremely enriching. The Conservatorium’s close relationship with many musical establishments and artists has enabled me to access professional performances, as well as build relationships with musicians working in the industry.”
“Being at the Con, being a part of the nebulous mass of ideas and constant flow of creativity that sustains every single person at the Con, is an experience unlike any other I’ve encountered. The friends and colleagues that I’ve met at the Con are among the biggest contributing factors in shaping and refining my sense of musical style, creativity and respect for all music and above all, will be the people with whom I share the rest of my musical journey.
“I have had 9 years of performing with a huge variety of small and large ensembles in a multitude of genres around Australia; mostly playing and recording original music by peers or other composers, as well as regular gigs performing standard repertoire. Because of the nature of cross-genre playing, whether its through-composed music or improvised music, my mind is constantly split and challenged into considering what I can use from my experiences, my education and my surroundings to enhance my understanding of and play, without hesitation, whatever I feel best serves the music itself. Playing classical music is a great way of understanding your instruments, especially double bass, in a different role and through a different historical perspective to modern, groove based musics.“
“As an international postgraduate conducting student, my focus with Wind Conducting allows me to experience the exciting changes that are occurring in the culture of wind and percussion music in Sydney, Australia and beyond. While wind bands have always been a source of education and entertainment for centuries, the wind “ensemble” developed in 1952 by conductor Frederick Fennell at the Eastman School of Music in the United States. The idea was a creation of an ensemble that performed original music for winds, brass and percussion (rather than mostly marches and orchestral transcriptions) with one player per part. The wind ensemble “concept” allows me to explore a variety of repertoire, stemming from pieces composed for the winds, brass and percussion of an orchestra, to chamber music, to large-scale works for wind symphony. We are a young medium as compared to the Symphony Orchestra and Choral ensembles. The genre’s lines are blurred, the envelope is continually pushed and that’s what really excites me!
“What I have enjoyed most about the educational experience at the Con thus far is the amount of talent and passion of the musicians who are focused on creating the best art possible. The faculty and staff are also superb.
“My teacher, Dr John Lynch is a leading international wind conductor with years of experience under his belt. In this semester alone we have collaborated with fabulous guest artists on amazing pieces of music including those by Alban Berg, Kurt Weill, Joseph Schwantner, Mozart and Australian composers Natalie Williams and Matthew Hindson. I have been fortunate enough to lead our Wind Symphony on our Centenary Concert, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Coming up is our first recording project featuring an array of music by Australian and female composers, as well as the world premiere recording of an original work for winds by the legendary conductor/composer Andre Previn.”