Nominated for the 2017 Australian of the Year Awards by the National Australia Day Council
My initial training at undergraduate level was as a concert pianist. I was taught by Roy Shepherd, Reader, Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne. My final performance examinations were in singing. I have worked professionally as a singer, accompanist, assistant conductor, a musical director, and as an arranger. I was the first voice teacher engaged by Mr John Sumner, AO, CBE, the founding director of Melbourne Theatre Company. I continued teaching there for four and a half years and also worked as Musical Director for several shows.
This led to being asked by Ms Alisa Piper (now of the Victorian Arts Centre Trust) to give voice workshops for professional users and aspiring actors at Playbox Theatre Company. As a result of accompanying singers at auditions in Her Majesty’s Theatre for JC Williamsons, Ms Sue Nattras, AO, engaged me to accompany auditionees for “Evita” with Mr Hal Prince as director. This began a long association with theatre companies.
The Adelaide Festival Centre, for example, engaged me as a company vocal teacher on several occasions, to provide general and rehabilitation vocal techniques. The Edgley group have engaged me as an accompanist for auditions and for concert appearances. Highlights of this time also include working as audition pianist and vocal advisor on the casting of the national touring company for “Joseph”, “Oklahoma!” with Jamie Hammerstein as director, “Barnum” with Baayork Lee as director, “The Sound of Music”, Best Little Whorehouse”, and “Westside Story” conducted by Dobbs Frank.
I have been a musical consultant and performing artist (including pianist) for companies such as Crawford Productions (television) and the musical director for many music theatre events including concerts, cabarets, theatre restaurants, recording studio sessions, and theatrical productions such as the national touring companies of “They’re Playing Our Song” and “Peach Melba”. My students have taught singing and voice production to fellow professionals throughout the world, including England, Japan (alongside Jo Estill), and in America at Shakespeare and Company (the Linklater group).
This demonstrates that they are accepted as world class educators who were trained in my studio. As further evidence of my students’ international recognition, my private practice student roll includes names (and skill ranges) as diverse as:
- Kylie Minogue (pop)
- Helen Noonan (opera)
- Daryl Braithwaite (pop)
- Stephen Housden (‘Little River Band’),
- David Hobson (Opera Australia, ‘It Takes Two’, and ‘Dancing with the Stars’)
- Evelyn Krape (comedian)
- Beverley Dunn (actor)
- Daniel MacPherson (UK ‘Godspell’ ‘City Homicide’)
- Jonathan Hardy (actor)
- Alan Dale (‘The OC’ ‘Ugly Betty’)
- Jesse Spencer (‘House’)
Former students of mine are now on staff at the Melbourne Theatre Company, Playbox, the Victorian Arts Centre, and teach in major schools at both secondary and tertiary levels. Many students perform internationally in centres such as London’s West End, D’Oly Carte Opera, the professional jazz scene in Paris, the German pop scene and operatic houses, as well as theatre and cabaret in Asia. My students have appeared in West End productions such as “Kiss Me Kate” (Brenda Clarke, understudy for Kate); “Sugar Babies” (Joy Bishop, ensemble), and Janice Torrens understudied Elaine Page in “Anything Goes”, to name just several.
Helen Noonan’s one-woman show, “Recital”, has played some of the major houses including Lincoln Center, Covent Garden, and toured to Tokyo and Spain with critical success. In addition to achieving international success directly from my studio as performers, some of my students have taught at tertiary institutions in England (for example, Junewyn Jones), USA (for example, Beth Child at ‘Shakepspeare and Company’ and The University of South Carolina), and Japan (for example, Denise Wharmby) as well as presenting masterclasses for professional voice users throughout Australia (for example, Anna McCrossin-Owen). They have taught at institutions such as Rusden College, Victorian College of Arts, Monash University, Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts, and are employed as consultants for the Melbourne Theatre Company (for example, as accent coach, Michael Daley).
Commercially released recordings of my students include pop, folk, musical comedy, contemporary art song, and the spoken word. I served the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing (ANATS) as their national Secretary and Editor for one year. My four-year membership on the Victorian Chapter Committee of ANATS allowed me to make many contributions by organising events such as weekend workshops, student seminars, teacher seminars, and professional development workshops.
In 1994, I was the Principal examiner, singing, for the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music, and I was appointed by the University of Melbourne as an examiner for a Master of Music thesis in 1999. I coached and then played piano accompaniment in 2013 for a former student’s CD recording of unfamiliar music theatre songs by Berlin, Gershwin, and Porter. I founded Acoustic Voice as a performance opportunity in 2012.
I devised and accompanied three concerts with former students in the historic venue of Melbourne City Conference Centre and the recently restored facility of the Ballarat Mechanics Institute to great acclaim. Then, we gave the concerts, ‘Morning Melodies with Acoustic Voice’ in September, 2013, and ‘Singing the Sacred’ in December, 2013 in the Northcote Town Hall. In 2012,
I worked as a mentor and consultant in 2012 for the original music theatre book and several songs (as examples of the whole), Melbourne Cup—The Musical. Also, I worked as a mentor and musician for the CD recording of 17 original songs that make up the national touring cabaret show (commencing October, 2011), What’s Love Got To Do With It? I served on the Australian Ballet Society Committee, May 2011 until 2013. I was one of the team of pianists for the Summer School, 2014 of The Australian Ballet School.
Hobbies and interests
- Food science, in particular food combining for well-being and health.
- Recipe collection and development for athletes including performers.
- Researching non-drug clinical studies that test nutritional science.
- Digital sound technologies.
Ahlbourn-Galanti used my designs in their Series B instruments. I have been actively supporting the development of the English Romantic Organ software for the company, Silver Octopus in the UK.
- I counter the constant sitting involved in my work by a program of training at a gym.
- Twice weekly I attend adult ballet classes for personal growth and discipline.
- Diploma in Music, University of Melbourne, granted in 1976.
- Master of Music (Preliminary), University of Melbourne, granted in 1990.
- Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, granted in 2000.