Music a family affair at Griffith

Music education is a family affair for second and third generation students at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (QCGU).

These young musicians have chosen to follow in their parents and grandparents footsteps after winning a place at Australia’s number one creative arts school.

Final year Bachelor of Musical Theatre student Emily Corkeron is among the third generation of her family to attend the “Con”.

Her grandmother attended the Queensland Conservatorium in its original home at the old South Brisbane Town Hall in the 1970s, studying classical piano before undertaking a Masters in Musicology.

Her father Tim and two aunts studied at the old Gardens Point campus in 1980s. Tim Corkeron now plays Principal Timpani for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Emily’s brother Nicholas graduated from the Conservatorium last year with a Bachelor of Music in classical trumpet.

Growing up, Emily always intended to pursue her passion for dance.

“I never grew up doing music or singing – ballet was always my passion,” she said.

“It wasn’t until the end of high school that I decided to pursue a career in musical theatre and the Con was the natural choice.

“I grew up appreciating the history behind the Con, and it really does have this prestigious, historic feel to it.

“But it was still uncharted territory – the musical theatre degree is more of an elite training program than a typical uni experience.

“Each of us has had a completely different experience here, but it’s still nice to hear my family’s stories and it is fantastic being part of a family that understands and supports the arts.”

Andrea Morris-Campbell graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium in 1984, with a Bachelor of Music majoring in classical and jazz voice. Her son Angus is now in his first trimester of a Bachelor of Music – pursuing a major in classical saxophone.

A senior music lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, Andrea remembers her days at the ‘Con’ fondly.

“I’ve encouraged Angus to follow his passion, and the course at the Con is fantastic – it’s very eclectic, and the emphasis is on carving out a portfolio career as a performer, composer, arranger and teacher,” she said.

“I warned him that it would be tough – it’s like practice during high school, but on steroids!

“I’ve reminded him that once you get accepted to the Con, the hard work really begins.

“It can be daunting, but I want him to revel in being surrounded by fellow musicians.

“It’s all come flooding back to me – I joined the Con at 16, straight from school in Toowoomba, and it was a wonderful apprenticeship for me.”

Angus Morris-Campbell said he was inspired by his mother’s passion for music.

“I’ve grown up surrounded by music, and I guess I’m following in her footsteps,” he said.

“I used to joke to Mum that we knew so many music people in Brisbane, it was like a little cult – now I’m part of it!”

Scott Mason graduated from with a Bachelor of Music in 1984 – playing trumpet, piano, guitar.

Scott is now Director of Performing Arts at All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast and has great memories of his time at the ‘Con’.

“They were the best days of my life,” he says with a laugh.

“There was a lot of freedom compared to high school, and it was great being surrounded by people who were just as passionate about music as I was.

“My advice to Ben was simple – keep your options open, value every opportunity and the people you meet.

“When you’re young,  you don’t know where your potential lies – it will be interesting seeing him being taken out of his comfort zone.”

Scott’s son Ben has just embarked on a Bachelor of Music Technology. Although he grew up playing a host of instruments, including clarinet, saxophone, violin and piano, his passion is electronic dance music and DJ-ing.

“Growing up, some of those instruments I learnt were by choice, some not,” he says with a laugh.

“Mum and Dad are both music teachers, so I guess maybe it was inevitable that I would end up wanting to pursue it as a career.

“Once I discovered LogicPro, I knew I’d found my niche.

“I can sit there for hours at a time creating music and honing my sound.

“Mum and Dad don’t necessarily understand my music, but I think they can see my passion and drive.”

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison is himself a graduate of the ‘Con’. He said QCGU had carved out a place as one of the state’s major cultural institutions.

“Thousands of talented students have graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium over the past 60 years, and it remains the dream destination for aspiring young musicians,” he said.

“This institution has made an enormous contribution to Australia’s musical landscape across a variety of genres, from classical and jazz to musical theatre and popular music.

“It is wonderful to see second and third generations of musicians choosing to study here.”