Generous scholarships from Griffith University have enabled piano graduates to further their studies at some of the world’s most prestigious conservatoires.

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (QCGU) piano graduates have secured entry into highly selective postgraduate courses at London’s Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Professor Gemma Carey

Acting Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Professor Gemma Carey said QCGU was renowned for the high calibre of its graduates, who are sought after by the world’s top music institutions.

“We are among the top 50 performing arts institutions in the world, and the success of our piano alumni reflects the calibre of teaching and learning happening at the Conservatorium,” she said.

“Our students are given a world-class music education and are ready to make their mark on the international stage after they graduate.

“The scholarships on offer at the Conservatorium can be life-changing for our students, and reflect the importance of the arts to our donors and the broader community.”

The Con boasts a glittering roll call of piano alumni, including internationally renowned performers like Piers Lane, Jayson Gillham, Liam Viney and Belle Chen.

“I’m so lucky to make this my life”

Piano virtuoso Ayesha Gough is embarking on a Masters degree at the Royal College of Music in London.

The star pianist has been able to study abroad after winning a score of scholarship prizes from QCGU, including the Joyce Campbell Lloyd Scholarship (Overseas Study) and the Postgraduate Award. Ayesha has also been supported by children’s charity Variety, of which she is an International Ambassador.

She credits her time at the Con with providing a foundation for an international career.

“I think I started off my degree here knowing everything and graduated knowing nothing, and that’s a good thing!”

“I was exposed to so many different aspects of music, I expanded my worldview and it made me hungry for more study, knowing there is so much out there for me to hear and learn and make sense of.

“That’s probably my advice to new students, especially those who already feel they have a concrete understanding of who they are as a musician. Try lots of things, especially those outside of your comfort zone: improvisation, concerto opportunities, collaboration, experimentations. You never know what you’ll discover.”

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 2016, she has studied in Italy, toured China, and performed with the Russian National Orchestra.

“Every performance and every travel opportunity offers a challenge,”she said.

“I love what I do, and I’m so lucky to make this my life.”

“It’s a dream”

Fellow pianist Elli Welsh completed a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium, and was recently accepted to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she will complete a Diploma in Piano accompaniment.

This opportunity was made possible thanks to the Queensland Conservatorium Ena Williams Award for Postgraduate Study Overseas, worth $40,000.

“I’m so excited to be off to the Royal Academy – it’s a dream,” she said.

“I’ve always dreamed of studying in London, and some of my favourite pianists have studied and taught at Royal Academy.

“When I started at the Con, I didn’t know if I was good enough.

“My teacher was a huge encouragement. She gave me the confidence to try another semester, and every year, I enjoyed it more.”

Elli said she developed a passion for piano accompaniment during her Master of Music Studies, when she began collaborating with the opera department and chamber orchestra.

“It was such a good learning experience and once you finish at the Con, you don’t get those opportunities again,” she said.

“Being proactive about what you want to do, and seeking those opportunities is important.

“I’d love to work with opera, ballet companies and accompany soloists.

“I really enjoy working with people and collaborating – it’s all about creating different colours together.”

“I want to play the Royal Albert Hall”

Rachael Shipard was accepted to Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she will complete a Doctor of Music. She received the Ena Williams Award for Postgraduate Study Overseas, which will allow her to live, study and perform in London.

“I’m really excited to be based in London – it’s such a cultural hub, and I hope to be able to play in the major venues there, like Wigmore Hall, the Barbican, maybe even Royal Albert Hall!”

She took up piano at the age of five and completed her Associate of Music (AMus) and Licentiate of Music (LMus) by the age of 13. Rachael graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium with a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Research, and said she was lucky to have learned from the best.

“My teachers provided me with a giant toolbox of techniques on how to practice, prepare for performance, and expand my creativity,” she said.

“I took advantage of as many performance opportunities as possible while I was at the Con – the weekly workshop class, lunchtime concerts, masterclasses, chamber music and vocal accompaniment.

“I think you only really get out of the Con what you put in, and if you are willing to give your art everything you can, by practising as much as possible and immersing yourself in the cultural landscape, the Con is such a rewarding experience.”