Remarkable music graduate wins Conservatorium Medal

A classical pianist from the bush whose studies took her on a detour into the world of jazz, funk and blues music has been awarded the 2019 Queensland Conservatorium Medal for Excellence.

Meg Burstow originally started a Bachelor of Music in classical piano, before deciding to join the jazz program. She credits the Queensland Conservatorium with broadening her musical horizons and is now equally at home playing a classical recital, leading a jazz ensemble or providing the soundtrack for a salsa club.

A remarkable journey

“My musical journey has taken me by surprise,” she said.

“I wanted to try something different and the Con was so accommodating in helping me make the leap.

“I still draw on my classical training as a foundation, but I feel like I’m discovering new ways of playing all the time.”

Giving back

Meg is from Maryborough and was the first from her high school to attend the Queensland Conservatorium. The high achiever graduated school a year early, relocating to Brisbane as a 16-year-old to take up her place at the Con.

“It was a little daunting at first – I came from a small town to a big city, and it was a big learning curve,” she said.

Meg threw herself into her studies, founding jazz ensembles, composing her own music and accompanying vocal groups.

“The priority here isn’t just getting good marks, it’s about developing as a musician and giving something back,” she said.

Going above and beyond

Professor Gemma Carey

Acting Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Professor Gemma Carey said the Medal for Excellence recognised truly outstanding students who have achieved academic success and contributed widely to the Conservatorium. Previous winners include internationally acclaimed musicians like Piers Lane, Brett Dean and Jayson Gillham.

“The medal was first awarded in 1978 and is an institution at the Queensland Conservatorium,” she said.

“It not only recognises academic excellence, but rewards students who go above and beyond.

“Meg has demonstrated great leadership, and used her talents to give back to the wider Conservatorium community.”