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Southern Cross music alumni shine at Lismore Lantern Parade this weekend


Sharlene King
19 June 2018

Harry Suttor and Lachlan Mulligan were born in the surf of the small coastal town of Yamba, between Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour. Since graduating – for Harry from the contemporary music degree at Southern Cross and Lachlan from SAE - they have been riding even bigger waves in the Australian music scene as electronic duo, Nocturnal Tapes.

A standout live act, Nocturnal Tapes is a touring force, supporting electronic funk producer Luke Million on his national tour earlier this year and sharing stages with Boo Seeka, Yahtzel, Bootleg Rascal, Tash Sultana and many more.

This Saturday (23 June) the duo is coming back to the Northern Rivers to play as the headline act alongside other Southern Cross musical alumni Holly Tapp, Luke Vassella and Alisha Todd on the Heartbeats Festival Stage from 12pm – 9pm at the Lismore Lantern Parade.

Southern Cross University and Northern Rivers Conservatorium have joined forces to present the free concert at The Quad in Rural Street, Lismore.

For the past 30 years the Con and Southern Cross have been incubators of talent in the region. In 1986 a contemporary music degree program, the first of its kind in the country, began life at what was then known as the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education (NRCAE).

In 1994 the program was moved to East Lismore as part of the newly christened Southern Cross University. The Con stayed on as a music education provider as the newly formed Northern Rivers Conservatorium Arts Centre.

The 90s and 2000s saw a real blossoming for tertiary music education in the Northern Rivers region, with many stellar graduates produced including Con alumni Blue King Brown founder, musician, producer and activist Nattali Rize; Tom Avery aka Blakboi; International touring band TORA; and Southern Cross alumnus Scott Aplin - now into his seventh year as the music director for the TV show The Voice Australia - and Josh Blair who won a Grammy Award for production work on Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’.

Southern Cross music alumnus Holly Tapp was a top 8 finalist of The Voice Australia 2014, catching the attention of Kylie Minogue, Will.I.Am and Joel Madden. Crowned the “quintessential all Australian girl”, Holly's original sound, comprised of catchy and beautiful melodies, lays her soul bare telling stories of love, the land and the ocean. 

Holly will play at 7pm on the Heartbeats Stage with her new band Dos Loona featuring bassist and guitarist Tim Schou and Tormaigh Cafarella who studied contemporary music at the University with Holly and their drummer, Byron Bay local “reggae boom” extraordinaire Jason Cunnen.

Earlier in day between 4pm and 6pm audiences can catch Alisha Todd and Luke Vassella who between them have been nominated and won many music awards and audiences across Australia.

Alisha, who was most recently nominated for a Music Oz Award and is a multiple NCEIA Dolphin Award Finalist, will bring her unique pop-inspired, jazz-infused sound to the Heartbeats Stage and offer new material she has created over the last three years while travelling the world.

There aren't many on the NSW North Coast who haven’t heard Southern Cross alumnus Luke Vassella play. Widely known and loved as an inspirational performer and an accomplished singer/songwriter, Luke has released nine albums of his own material, receiving eight NCEIA Dolphin Awards along the way, including Male Vocal of the year. At the 2017 Australian Roots Music Awards, he received the 'Karl Brodie Best Song' trophy.

While not all graduates from the Con or Southern Cross have won awards, there are many others who continue to contribute to the cultural tapestry of the Northern Rivers and beyond in their work as musicians, composers, performers, producers, music teachers, music therapists, sound engineers, sound designers, event organisers and arts administrators.

Music teachers at Richmond River High, Lismore High, Trinity, Woodlawn, Byron Bay, Casino and many others in the area are all Southern Cross University graduates. Almost half of instrumental music teachers at the Con (including the current Executive Director, Anita Bellman, no less!) are Southern Cross music graduates. These teachers are working with the next generation of musicians to ensure the creative cycle continues.

Julius Hofstettor, a long time teacher at the Con (and a Con and Southern Cross graduate), has run the Con Youth Jazz Orchestra for 10 years, providing the only big band experience for young musicians in the region. The YJO will perform on Heartbeats Stage from 2pm.  Shelly Brown, an alumnus of both the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and Southern Cross University, will feature as a vocalist.

Southern Cross University and the Con are excited to showcase and celebrate their alumni at the 2018 Lantern Parade Heartbeats Stage with an eclectic program of musical performances.

The Heartbeats Stage runs from 12noon – 9pm on Saturday 23 June in The Quad as part of the Lismore Lantern Parade. View the program.

Want a career in music? Southern Cross University's contemporary music degree is available to study in Session 2.