Conservatorium of Music alumni update

Welcome to your CQUni Conservatorium of Music update, where we share news and opportunities. 

We always love to hear where your career has taken you – and how, as Performers, Teachers, Administrators or Arts workers, you are sharing your passion and following your career goals.

Our programs encompass a broad range of disciplines and graduates, and we have tried to reflect these in these stories. If you would like to contribute a profile or ideas, please contact us. You can also message us and follow all the action on our Facebook page.

The Con Celebrates 30 Years

Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music celebrated 30 years of success with a special concert in May this year.

The gala showcased several alumni, including music theatre performers Paul Tabone, Madeline Cain and Teale Howie, jazz musician Jeremy Borthwick, former OzCabaret performer Sarah Rozekrans and a special CQCM alumni big band featuring Dan Barnett.

While they were in town for the performance, we caught up with Madelaine and Teale.

You can read about Madelaine’s career journey and emotional return to the Con for the first time in 17 years, and about Teale’s current choreography project with fellow CQCM alumna Hannah Barn, and his performance in the Australian premiere of Anatomy of a Suicide.

Following her Directorial dream

Celeste Hack (BMus, ’15) recently made her directorial debut for The Cathedral College’s (TCC) production of “How to Success in Business Without Really Trying”. Celeste specialised in Jazz and Popular Music and is now an Instrumental Voice teacher at the college. She has previously assisted with productions of Xanadu, Footloose and other college performances, and credits the supportive staff she works with for enabling her to achieve her dream of directing. Check out some pics of the production.

CQUni School’s Jazz Fest a Huge Success

CQUni hosted our first School’s Jazz Fest in Townsville in early June.

The Festival is an exciting opportunity for high school students to engage in two full days of inspirational music making, featuring an expert panel of nationally respected musicians, educators, and staff from the Conservatorium of Music.

The stimulating and challenging programme includes band clinics, an adjudicated performance for all participants, workshops for individual students and a festival showcase concert.

This event is open to small jazz ensembles, large jazz ensembles, vocal ensembles and community ensembles. We were truly impressed by the standard of the big bands in Townsville as well as some really outstanding individual students.  Listen to a snippet and see some pics here.

Jazz Festival will continue in Rockhampton late July, and Mackay in early August.

Networking and Study Abroad leads to success in LA for Samantha

Last year, Samantha van der Sluis was awarded ‘Highest Achievement – Best Composer’ at the Australian Screen Industry Network Awards. Now she is based in Los Angeles, where she works with Hollywood’s leading composers and is making her mark on several film and TV projects.

After completing her Bachelor of Music at the Con, Samantha did a Master’s degree in scoring for visual media in Dublin, Ireland. You can check out the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra performing Samantha’s composition “Search for Home” here.

“I then moved to Los Angeles and received my O1 Artist Visa. I worked as Jeff Russo’s composer assistant, and together we worked on a TV show, Star Trek: Discovery, as well as movies including Lizzie featuring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart.

“I moved on and started working for JoAnn Kane Music Service, working in the music department as a music copyist, proofreader, and mockup (music demo) artist for larger-scale films including Star Wars VIII, Venom, Secret Life Of Pets 2, and shows including Family Guy, The Orville, and American Dad.”

We love to showcase the achievements and interests of graduates. Whether it’s a personal achievement or a contribution to the wider community, please share your stories with us so that we can share with our students and your fellow graduates. 

Prizes recognise emerging talent

Paul Tabone (left) and Prize recipient Jackson Wecker (right) perform together.

Two new academic prizes have been established this year, to support and nurture excellence in students studying at the Con.

In April, Paul Tabone (BTheatre), who is currently performing in The Phantom of the Opera on London’s West End, created the Paul Tabone Prize for Most Promising Voice for Musical Theatre.
Paul studied his Bachelor of Theatre (Music) at CQUni and received similar encouragement while studying: in 2007 and 2009 he received the Adrian Gibson Memorial Prize for the Most Promising Voice.

Additionally, the Conservatorium Friends have established a one-off prize to honour long-serving member Margaret Taylor.

Margaret moved to Mackay approximately eight years ago and joined the Con Friends. Although she didn’t have a theatrical or musical background, she loved the student performances and was a hands-on member of the Friends. She was always first to volunteer to work in the Theatre Kiosk and to generally help. She passed away on 11 May 2019.

Because she loved her involvement with the Con, her family donated $500 which the Con Friends decided to match to create a one-off prize of $1,000 in Margaret’s name.

Artistic Ambassador Honoured in Queen’s Birthday Awards

Congratulations to our Artistic Ambassador, Peter Cousens AM on this very prestigious award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts in Australia.

CQCM Director Professor Judith Brown says the Conservatorium is very proud of its long association with Mr Cousens as he has directed many productions, including Necessary Targets, The Sentimental Bloke, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Mikado.

Mr Cousens is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). He worked for 10 years as an actor on television and on stage in Australia before becoming an internationally-acclaimed musical theatre star. He is also the co-writer and director of the new Australian feature film Where is Daniel? (working title), slated for production in 2019.

Upcoming Events at The Con

30 – 31 August – Music Theatre and Drama Showcase
27 – 29 August – Mr Burns, a post-electric play
More performance information

cqunilifeguest (

Leave a Reply