Opera performance at the Elder Conservatorium of Music

Amber Watkins has received first place in the 4th Australian Marimba Competition. Competing in the under 22 years old category, Amber won the event held in early August 2017.

amber_watkins_scaledI didn’t really know what to expect walking in there. I had only ever competed in the Australian Percussion Eisteddfod at which I was one of the eldest. Here I was the youngest and interacting with performers from all over the world. At first I found the whole thing overwhelming, but as soon as the first round began I realised it was much more laidback than I had anticipated and wasn’t really any different to other performances I have done.

What stood out most to me was the atmosphere of the competition. Everyone was extremely friendly and interacted openly, even though there were substantial language barriers. Irrespective of where we came from we were all percussionists, so everyone arrived early to the gala rehearsal without being told and chipped in to help set up. In classic fashion, there was one instrument or part of an instrument missing for most of the set up. This time it was a clamp for the marimba, but it eventually was found – though it was somewhat hilarious listening to the faculty trying to come up with solutions or substitutes; many of which included gaffa tape!

It was encouraging to hear the faculty provide the same advice I had previously heard from my teachers in Adelaide. I got on extremely well with Robert Oetomo who even asked to borrow my mallets (the ones I had just won funnily enough!) for his gala performance. We talked at one point about chorales, since he has composed a few, and he told me to think of long rolls like a string instrument being bowed, to help with the peaks and falls in combination with fluctuating roll speeds and the dryness of a room.

His works really stood out for me that weekend. He wrote the set piece for Round 2 of Division B, Amy, which despite being performed on multiple occasions, was one of the most enjoyable pieces I heard during the competition. It was interesting hearing the competitors’ varying interpretations of the piece and yet they all sounded uniquely beautiful. Robert also played his piece Fantasy IV at the gala which instantly became a piece I want to add to my repertoire for next year.”

– Amber Watkins

Posted in Uncategorized
Comments Off on Amber Watkins Wins First Place in Australian Marimba Competition

Tom Hajdu is the Director of the Sia Furler Institute, and will be giving a keynote presentation at BigSound Festival and Conference on September 8 in Brisbane.


The past 20 years has proven the music industry must look at our environment, analyse how external factors could affect us, and embrace change. In this session, Tom will look more broadly at how technologies will disrupt the economy in general and why adopting collaboration and innovation is so vital to the continued success and evolution of the music industry.

More information about the event can be found on the BigSound website.

Posted in Events, News
Comments Off on Tom Hajdu to Deliver Keynote at BigSound in Brisbane

In 2017 the Elder Conservatorium of Music and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra began collaborating on a Masters level conducting program. This collaboration, unique in the world of conductor training, aims to prepare students who aspire to be professional conductors working at the highest level. Students of the course have the opportunity to conduct the ASO in Masterclass situations and work as assistants on specific ASO projects. Regular conducting classes are held at the Elder Conservatorium under the direction of Luke Dollman, including one to one sessions, sessions with two pianos and sessions with a small chamber orchestra based around a core of five professional players. Opportunities to conduct the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Elder Conservatorium Wind Orchestra, and Elder Conservatorium New Music Collective are also made available.

The Masters is designed as a two year coursework degree, though in exceptional cases it may be done by research. A one year Graduate Diploma course is also available. In 2018 we are also offering the possibility of doing an Honours year majoring in conducting for the first time. For more information about these options, and for further details about the programme in general, please contact Dr Luke Dollman, Lecturer in Conducting at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. Email: luke.dollman@adelaide.edu.au

This year we are offering applicants the opportunity to do a live audition with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. In the first instance, applicants must send their CV and a 15 minute video of their conducting (ideally two contrasting works) to Luke Dollman by September 25th, 2017. Approximately four applicants will then be invited to audition live with the ASO on October 10th, 2017. Repertoire will Rossini’s Barber of Seville and the first two movements of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4 ‘Italian’.


Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello says,
“This collaboration with the Elder Conservatorium is an exciting one and reflects the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s commitment to music education, training and development. We believe that through the joint delivery of this postgraduate conducting program, we are not only investing in young people but also playing a part in creating the future generation of conductors in Australia. It’s important to recognise that in Nicholas Carter, the ASO has the only Australian Principal Conductor of all Australian orchestras. We look forward to receiving applications for this dynamic new program that aims to discover and nurture home-grown talent”.


ASO Principal Conductor Nicholas Carter says,
“I’m very excited about this excellent program – giving aspiring conductors the kind of training and experience that is so often lacking in our music education institutions.  Luke has a huge amount of experience and expertise and indeed carries the torch for an approach to nurturing conductors that he learnt from one of the great conducting teachers of our time – Jorma Panula.

Giving the students access to the Adelaide Symphony, both in Masterclass situations and opportunities to assist on large projects throughout the year is something that I and the ASO are delighted to provide.  It reaffirms our commitment to making sure that talent and potential is supported in the right way, the benefits of which are felt throughout Adelaide and the broader Australian music scene.”


Elder Conservatorium Director, Professor Graeme Koehne AO says,
“The Elder Conservatorium enjoys an international reputation for excellence and innovation in music education and professional practice. We are thrilled to offer this postgraduate programme, which offers students the opportunity to gain invaluable and practical experience working with one of Australia’s most prestigious symphony orchestras. The Master’s programme will equip aspiring conductors with the artistic and intellectual capacity to excel in this most exciting and demanding artform.”

Posted in News
Comments Off on Postgraduate Programs in Conducting

The Elder Conservatorium of Music is holding an Open Day for strings! On Saturday, 12th August, join staff members of the Conservatorium for one of two masterclasses, a Q and A session and an open rehearsal of Holt’s St Paul’s Suite. There is no charge for students attending or performing at the Open Day, but registration […]

Posted in Events
Comments Off on Strings Open Day – Saturday, 12th August

The Elder Conservatorium of Music is holding an Open Day for brass, woodwind and percussion! On Saturday, 5th August, join staff members of the Conservatorium for a set of masterclasses, a Q and A session and an open Wind Orchestra rehearsal. There is no charge for students attending or performing at the Open Day, but […]

Posted in Events
Comments Off on Brass, Woodwind and Percussion Open Day – Saturday, 5th August

Congratulations to Associate Professor Elizabeth Koch, Head of Classical and Performance and Woodwind Studies, who has been made a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. Elizabeth joins Dr Joy McEntree, School of Humanities, as the University’s first HEA Senior Fellows. To learn more about the Fellowship, please visit the HEA website.

Posted in News
Comments Off on Congratulations to Elizabeth Koch – Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK

Congratulations to the award winning jazz students that have been recognised on the international stage. The Elder Conservatorium is the only music school in the country to produce winners at these awards. We have taken out awards in two categories: Small Jazz Combo – Undergraduate College, Winner: The Oostende Quartet: Jack Degenhart – alto saxophone, David […]

Posted in News
Comments Off on Jazz Students Recognised at Downbeat’s 40th Annual Student Music Awards

A free screening of “Composed” will be shown at the Madley Rehearsal Studio. Touted as being a documentary for every musician, the film will be followed by a question and answer panel with the director John Beder and Elder Conservatorium staff. Date: 4PM. Monday, September 11, 2017 Location: Madley Rehearsal Studio, Elder Conservatorium of Music

Posted in News
Comments Off on Free Screening of “Composed” Documentary