Standing apart as one of Australia’s finest music schools with a glittering roll call of alumni, the Queensland Conservatorium is turning sixty.
Internationally recognised musicians including Dami Im, Jayson Gillham, Katie Noonan, Piers Lane, Megan Washington, Kate Miller-Heidke, Lisa Gasteen and Brett Dean have passed through its doors.
With players in leading positions in every Australian state orchestra, and a host of Grammy and ARIA award winners among its alumni, the Queensland Conservatorium is celebrating a remarkable six decades of peerless music education.
The Conservatorium opened its doors on 18 February 1957 at the South Brisbane Town Hall with just 13 full-time students.
It was based at Gardens Point through the 1970s and 80s, before moving to a new home in the heart of South Bank’s cultural precinct in 1996.
Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison is himself a graduate of the ‘Con’. He said the Queensland Conservatorium had carved out a place as one of the state’s major cultural institutions.
“Thousands of talented students have graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium which remains the dream destination for aspiring young musicians,” he said.
“This institution has made an enormous contribution to Australia’s musical landscape across a variety of genres, from classical and jazz to musical theatre and popular music.
A blockbuster season
Professor Harrison said the Queensland Conservatorium was planning to mark its 60th year with a blockbuster season of events.
“We invite everyone to help us celebrate – you can see the next generation of musicians at our free lunchtime concerts, or come along to one of the hundreds of events held throughout the year, featuring students, faculty and alumni,” he said.
Highlights of the 2017 season include the main stage musical, West Side Story, which itself debuted on Broadway 60 years ago.
The blockbuster production will feature a triple cast, comprising the entire musical theatre school, accompanied by the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.
The production will be directed by Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart.
“This production will give the students a chance to tackle one of the biggest shows in the musical theatre canon,” he said.
“It will be an extraordinary challenge, but if you want to test yourself as an artist and hone your skills, you have to shoot for the stars.”
There will also be a special 60th Anniversary Gala next month, featuring students, faculty and alumni, including Katie Noonan, who will front an all-star Big Band.
Rounding out the program for 2017 is the Griffith Opera on the Beach – a spectacular new production of Aida with Opera Australia at Coolangatta.