Queensland Conservatorium graduate Dami Im brought the X Factor to Griffith’s recent annual alumni awards event, collaborating with students and faculty on a show-stopping musical number this year.

The awards featured a medley of songs by the Master of Music Studies graduate, recorded at the Conservatorium Theatre at South Bank last month.

The project presented a unique opportunity for students from the Queensland Conservatorium and Griffith Film School to work alongside a star alumnus, and the shoot was made possible by collaboration across the University, with COVID-19 restrictions on live events providing new and different avenues to pursue.

Dami returns to her roots

After graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium’s renowned jazz vocal program, Dami shot to stardom by winning The X Factor in 2013 and represented Australia in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest.

The powerhouse vocalist said returning to the Con, where her musical journey began, brought back fond memories.

“Getting the proper foundation in my training at Griffith gave me the confidence that I needed to kickstart my dream as an artist,” she said.

“Being back here brought back memories of going to lectures and hanging out in practice rooms. It was really nice to meet some of the current students and play with them.”

An unforgettable experience

Queensland Conservatorium Head of Jazz, Dr Stephen Newcomb, created new arrangements of some of Dami’s biggest hits for the recording session, which featured a student string quartet.

Queensland Conservatorium violin student Scarlett Gallery

Bachelor of Music violin student Scarlett Gallery said performing alongside one of her musical heroes was an unforgettable experience.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind – we were given the arrangements to rehearse on Friday morning, did a soundcheck on Monday and recorded the next day,” she said.

“We felt like professional musicians and Dami was so lovely, she was chatting with us in between takes and we had lots of fun together.

“I’m a classically trained violinist, so performing with a pop star was something completely new.

“I watched Dami perform at Eurovision a couple of years back and I was just pinching myself when we started playing The Sound of Silence with her.”

Capturing the magic

Griffith Film School student Brendan Schoenmaker

Griffith Film School (GFS) student Brendan Schoenmaker led the crew that filmed the segment – an opportunity created through the school’s in-house production arm, LiveLab.

Brendan, who graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium before embarking on a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production, said it was the perfect location for the shoot.

“It was all smooth sailing on the day. It’s Dami doing what she does best, and she sang her heart out. The students were amazing – it was just about capturing the magic,” he said.

“We’re very fortunate at GFS to have access to the best gear and equipment. The Con Theatre is also a world-class venue – the lighting and acoustics were fantastic.”

Silver linings

Professor Carolyn Evans

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans said hosting events amid COVID-19 restrictions had provided unique opportunities for collaboration.

“While one of the many difficult consequences of this ‘pandemic’ year has been the need to change the shape of our events and celebrations, there have also been many silver linings,” she said.

“In this instance, our alumni and students from the Queensland Conservatorium and Griffith Film School collaborated on the live stream production for this year’s awards, so that alumni from around the world were able to join the celebrations.”

The University’s Development and Alumni team led the project, with the hybrid event, part-live and part-prerecord and broadcast globally, a unique way to tackle the challenge presented by Covid-19.

Collaboration and innovation

Associate Professor Peter Morris

Queensland Conservatorium Deputy Director (Engagement) Associate Professor Peter Morris was part of the team overseeing the project, and said it represented the spirit of collaboration and innovation that had characterised the University’s response to the pandemic.

“Despite lockdowns and restrictions, we have continued to offer our students performance opportunities and industry experience,” he said.

“It speaks to the calibre of our music and film students that they were able to step up at relatively short notice and produce something so polished.

“This project was the perfect example of the kind of collaboration we value at Griffith – we used our own musicians and film crew, our theatre and alumnus.”