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Music students learn from ‘the best of the best’


Zoe Satherley
10 August 2007
Not many budding songwriting students get the opportunity to hone their talents under the tuition of some of Australia’s leading songwriters and musicians, but that is what is happening for Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Contemporary Music students.

The University has secured a special grant from APRA – the Australasian Performing Rights Association which is the peak body representing songwriters in Australia and Asia – to bring in a steady stream of outstanding talents to mentor and guide students.

A series of songwriting and composing workshops will be held throughout the year under the mentorship of music legends.

The series kicks off next week with songwriter, drum and percussion virtuoso Rob Hirst, an acclaimed name synonymous with the best of Australian music (Midnight Oil founding member, drummer, songwriter and backing singer/ Ghostwriters/ The Backsliders/ Hirst & Greene/ Angry Tradesmen).

Rob said one of the major highlights of his career so far has been Midnight Oil’s performance of ‘When the Generals Talk’ at the Sydney wing of the ‘LIVE EARTH’ gig last month – the multi-continent global planetary awareness mega-concert.

Other musical legends mentoring students in future sessions will be: Murray Burns, songwriter and keyboard player with leading 70s band Mi-Sex, TV and film composer, producer; Kylie Burtland, Australian Songwriters’ Association 2002 Songwriter of the Year, film and TV composer, musicologist; Alan John, TV, film, musical theatre, and opera composer whose work has featured with Opera Australia and at the Sydney Festival; Nerida Tyson-Chew, film and TV composer, conductor, winner of the 2003 Australian Screen Music Award for Best Music for a Mini-series or Telemovie; and Kevin Bennett, award-winning singer/songwriter from Sydney-based roots/blues band The Flood and founding member of Moving Pictures.

Associate Professor Jon Fitzgerald, of Southern Cross University’s Contemporary Music program, said he was delighted APRA had been able to fund the workshop series, which would help support new and emerging student songwriters and musicians to get advice and direction from the ‘best of the best’.

“To have musicians of this calibre associated with our Contemporary Music program further cements our strong connections with the Australian music industry,” Professor Fitzgerald said.

“Many of our students have gone on to develop outstanding careers in all facets of the music industry. There is no other course like this in Australia that gives students such a breadth of exposure to expert tuition, practical, hands-on experience and real world mentoring.”

Photo: Midnight Oil founding member Rob Hirst will be running a songwriting and composing workship for music students at Southern Cross University.