Musical pair hit a high note with international scholarships

Queensland Conservatorium alumnus Benjamin Crocker guest conducting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

Talented alumni from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University have won international scholarships to pursue their studies abroad.

Benjamin Crocker and Julia Hill are embarking on postgraduate studies in the US and Switzerland thanks to prestigious scholarships from the Ramsay Centre and the ThinkSwiss program.

Benjamin Crocker

After completing a Bachelor of Music at Griffith University, Benjamin won the Australian Conductor’s Scholarship and later worked as a music educator at The King’s School and the University of Sydney. In recent years, he has developed an interest in arts and education policy.

The high achiever received a place to read history at the University of Oxford, but ultimately decided to head to America after winning the Ramsay Centre Postgraduate Scholarship.

He will join the famed ‘Great Books’ program at St John’s College, a liberal arts college in Maryland. The scholarship will also give him the opportunity to intern with a think tank in Washington DC.

Benjamin Crocker

“It’s a radically traditional take on education, which is designed to refine your thinking and hone your debating skills in a multidisciplinary environment,” he said.

“Music will always be my first love, but by getting experience in arts and education policymaking, I hope I can make a real difference.”

Benjamin grew up in a tiny sugarcane farming community in north Queensland and is a passionate believer in music as a social mobility tool.

“I got a fantastic foundation in music at the Con, and was exposed to some phenomenal teaching, and my career since has shown me the full potential of the arts.

“Music is the ultimate social mobility tool. If you grow up in a rural town where there’s not that much opportunity, it can quite literally be a ticket out or a way to go out into the world and experience something different.

“Music can be a great leveler and social unifier — when you’re playing together in a band or orchestra, it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are.

“I want to use this scholarship to advocate for a bigger seat at the table for music in Australian public life.”

Julia Hill. Photo: Katelyn Gillard Photography

Fellow Bachelor of Music alumnus Julia Hill won a ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship that will allow her to spend three months completing a research project at the Conservatory of Music in Geneva.

Julia plans to look at how culture influences art by collaborating with a group of Swiss student composers on a new musical work.

Due to COVID travel restrictions, Julia will complete the first part of her research project online before travelling overseas.

“We will collaborate on a new work for violin, piano and electronics and through the rehearsal process and the music itself, I will explore how our different identities come together,” she said.

“I’ve been involved in performing many new works by composition students at the Con, and that kind of collaboration has been really rewarding. I can’t wait to get started.”

Currently completing Honours at the Queensland Conservatorium, Julia is also a New Colombo Plan Scholarship recipient and a member of the Griffith Honours College.

“Being involved with the Honours College really opened my eyes to the potential of research.”

“One of the highlights of my time at Griffith was working as a research assistant for Dr Leah Coutts at the Con.

“That sparked my interest in exploring how music can tell stories, change the world and speak to the heart.”