Performing Arts Showcase Participant Reflections
As part of the College’s 150th Celebration a Performing Arts Showcase was conducted featured current and former students. Several old Collegians reflected on their time at Ballarat Clarendon College and in particular highlighted the influence Clarendon has had on their careers and personal development.
“There were numerous musical highlights during my years at BCC. I was in awe of Mr Vendy’s various transcriptions and arrangements for Concert Band, including College’s own adaptation of Les Miserables. I remember playing on stage in Hawaii with Benjamin Northey as soloist for Persuasion by Sammy Nestico. I am indebted to the BCC Music staff (1985-1990) for profoundly influencing my studies, philosophy of music education, and teaching practice. In particular, I’d like to thank Mrs Liz Deveson for helping me with an important decision in Year 9, when I was trying to choose between the language and music electives.”
Cindy works at the Melbourne Recital Centre and has taught instrumental, ensemble and classroom music in P-12 schools in Victoria and undergraduate music performance courses in the USA.
“Twenty-two years after leaving high school my journey has taken me as far away from BCC music as I could imagine. My life is now in Sweden with my husband and two young sons. I work as an associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation at Jönköping University. So what could Ballarat Clarendon College music mean to someone who has left it all behind? Music is where I began to learn about the importance of disciplined preparation. It is the root of my confidence as a public speaker and where I learnt the importance of working as a team. Ballarat Clarendon College music has shaped my professional career enormously.”
Nerrolyn is currently Associate Professor in School of Health Sciences at Jönköping University.
“Ballarat Clarendon College was where most of my musical journeys began. I can still clearly remember when Ben Northey gave me the green light to swap from Clarinet to Alto Saxophone. Many great sessions with Barry Currie playing tunes and his tireless efforts to encourage me to learn my scales! The biggest influence however was Graeme Vendy. I feel fortunate to have been part of a very special time at Ballarat Clarendon College with a music department that was on the highest rung!”
Jake Mason (aka Mai Sonique) is a producer, songwriter and artist. He also is a highly accomplished saxophonist and keyboardist. As a musician he has featured with the likes of Oz legends Richard Clapton, Mark Seymour, Clare Bowditch and Hugh Jackman.
“The music program at BCC remains the most important learning experience I have had. It enabled me to be very well prepared for a career as a professional musician. I have wonderful memories of turning up to beginner band class on early, cold Ballarat mornings. The quality of the teaching was extraordinary and there was a great sense of dedication to high academic outcomes, but also to having great fun through making music.”
Ben is a regular guest conductor with all the Australian and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras and Opera Australia. He is currently Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony and has been appointed Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. He also conducts in Asia and has returned from concerts in Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
“I remember when I first started at BCC the entire school got together to farewell the incomparable Mr Vendy. I had barely met him, but even as a 12 year old I was devastated. Luckily for us though, he would continue to have a huge impact on my musical adventure. I still go to GV for sheet music for auditions or the occasional note bash and I thank him for my love of all things Jazz. Since leaving College I have worked almost consistently in musical theatre. Some credits include We Will Rock You, Oklahoma, SHOUT!, Hairspray, Legally Blonde and most recently playing Columbia in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I am currently in rehearsals for MARLIN, an exciting new co-production that premiers in October this year.”
“The Music Centre (as we called it then) and Graeme Vendy and many of the staff at BCC were an integral part of my development as a musician. I find myself frequently quoting Graeme’s words of wisdom in my coaching job and still think back to some of the key moments when I discovered what it meant to “be” a musician. The general music classes, music lessons, access to the score and record library, and above all the annual musicals, opened a world of possibilities and challenges I would not have otherwise known. The BCC music program remains a very important part of who I am today. “
Nick balances a busy agenda between music and consulting. He is based in Paris and conducts regularly as well as touring as a performing musician with his band.
“Ballarat Clarendon College was the beginning of all things when it comes to my career. It gave me brilliant opportunities in singing, musical theatre, instrumental, acting, sports, travel and mainly self-belief thanks to the amazing teacher I had in Graeme Vendy. And because of the talent pool, I also learnt it’s about working hard and patience, which is so important for a long career.”
After a very successful tour for many years as Roxy in Chicago, Chelsea has appeared on stage, television and film, including Pink, Anything Goes, The King and I, George of the Jungle 2, Josh Jarman and All Saints.
Currently in her ninth year with Australia’s National Ballet company, Brooke has performed in about 1700 performances and travelled with the company to New Zealand, Shanghai, Tokyo, London, Paris and New York. Brooke was the face of three Napoleon Perdis ‘ballet inspired’ makeup campaigns in Australia and the United States and she was also involved in the filming of Mao’s Last Dancer and worked alongside the writers of the highly successful Australian television series Dance Academy. Brooke is currently rehearsing the lead role of Clara in Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker. Brooke believes her success and passion were not only ignited but also nurtured during her years at Ballarat Clarendon College and is thankful to have been immersed in a state of the art Performing Arts program.
“I’ll never forget watching the Senior School Musical Barnum. The show was held in a full size circus tent on the basketball court and it was amazing! I remember sitting watching Phil Smith play the lead role and I thought to myself when I’m in year 12 that’s what I want to do. As soon as I finished school I moved to NYC, where I travelled and had several jobs including a photographer assistant role. On returning to Australia I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Anthropology and Cinema at Melbourne University and started working full time as a stills photographer on film and television sets. I am currently working as an actor on the TV show Home & Away. I still have a keen interest in documentary photography, recently returning from a trip to Madagascar, where I shot a documentary and photography book about an organisation who provides education to rural communities.”
“Every time I play my saxophone I carry with me the influence of the BCC music department. It might be the saxophone skills imparted on me by Barry Currie or it might be the ‘you can do anything’ attitude of Graeme Vendy that still gives me the courage to do new things today. They always lead by example and I can’t think of a better way to do things.”
Barry Cockcroft completed his studies with Barry Currie and Graeme Vendy in 1989 at Ballarat Clarendon College. Barry is an internationally recognised saxophonist and has been concerto soloist with the United States Navy Band and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He is a Selmer Artist and a RICO International Artist. He is also perhaps Australia’s most widely performed and recorded contemporary composer and this year his music has been performed in over 30 countries. Later this year Barry will be presenting a masterclass at the Paris Conservatoire.
“Ballarat Clarendon College has made a valuable contribution in my development and journey, guiding me not only through my academic education but also teaching me underlying lessons and values to carry with me in everyday life, such as managing my time and social situations.”
Having completed three years dance study at ABS and a further year with Studio Tibor in Sydney, Alexia is ready to launch herself into the professional ballet world. Alexia’s ultimate goal is to forge a career in ballet overseas, in America or Europe. The Youth American Grand Prix New York City Finals further confirmed this dream of hers.