Life at the Conservatorium – Nava MacDonald
A degree from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University can take you down many career paths. From Eurovision finalists Kate Miller-Heidke and Dami Im to Tim Davies, who orchestrated the music for La La Land and Frozen, many of the Conservatorium’s graduates have found remarkable success.
In this series we asked students from the Conservatorium to share their experiences at university. This week we are highlighting Nava MacDonald, who is studying Creative Music Technology.
What is a regular day in the life at university for you?
It’s busy and challenging, but always fun.
Some days I’ll be busy setting up for a concert recording in the Conservatorium Theatre. Other days I’ll be soldering connections on my custom electronic instrument for an upcoming live performance, writing an analytical essay or dissecting the music of artists that I enjoy.
I really appreciate the opportunities I get to work on collaborative projects and it’s really enjoyable sharing my creative ideas with others and listening to theirs when putting together a performance.
Between classes a lot of us like to go out and have lunch at one of the cafés nearby. One of the best parts of daily university life is the strong social aspect.
What do you love most about Queensland Conservatorium and why did you come here to study?
I was a part of the Young Conservatorium from 2014-2017, taking individual tuition in piano, and I was selected to be part of the Rising Stars program. I was also the pianist in a Young Conservatorium jazz band for three years. Over the years I came to see the Conservatorium as a home, with such great teachers and facilities that I couldn’t imagine attending university to study music anywhere else.
The Queensland Conservatorium truly is the heart of higher music education in Brisbane and it’s in one of the most beautiful parts of South Bank.
Have there been any classes or specific teachers who have inspired you throughout your time here?
All the teachers are so incredibly knowledgeable and inspiring.
I’d like to mention in particular Matt Hitchcock, for being so caring and supportive of all, and John Ferguson, whom I’ve had the opportunity of being mentored by since becoming a part of the Griffith Honours College.
John’s classes in Pure Data programming and the construction of electronic instruments has been particularly inspirational to me in approaching composition from another perspective.
Why Creative Music Technology?
The main reason why I gravitated towards the Creative Music Technology major was because it’s more of a creative outlet, which can be very fulfilling personally and is something that I want to pursue professionally.
I have a classical background in piano but have always had a strong interest in the technology side of music. For years it has just been a hobby of mine, arranging medleys to the soundtracks of my favourite movies and programming MIDI backing tracks to perform on my Clavinova. Over these many years of working with Logic Pro 9 and Finale, I can now say that music technology has developed into a true passion of mine.
Have you had many opportunities to perform?
At the Conservatorium, I’ve participated in the live concerts using electronic instruments as part of course assessments for Electronic Instruments and Real-Time Systems. They are quite different from what I’m used to in traditional performance but it’s the challenge that makes them rewarding!
Outside of the Con, I was involved in Creative Generation 2017 as a featured piano soloist. It was a really memorable experience performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with a full orchestra and dancers from Queensland Ballet.
Just very recently I’ve been shortlisted for another gig, which will involve producing an array of sound materials to perform live for a musical, with performances starting in November at the Princess Theatre.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
I’ve won a lot of national and international competitions over the past couple years, but I think the highlight was winning Moby’s remix competition for his song Are You Lost In The World Like Me? back in 2017. It was surreal to have it pressed on 12” vinyl, with the B-side featuring Moby’s remix, as well as a remix from another one of my idols, Blanck Mass. This was my first real bit of worldwide exposure, and it’s truly an amazing feeling getting personal messages from people around the world who appreciated it.
What are your plans once you graduate the Conservatorium?
After this course, I would like to further my studies in music technology and composition.
With music technology the possibilities are unlimited, but I see myself working in the more creative side of technology with my major aspirations including composing music and foley sound design for movies and games, as well as exploring newer, experimental forms of electronic music.
Depending on where my path leads, I also have a strong interest in working in music for radio and television.
For more information on concerts at the Conservatorium, visit queenslandconservatorium.com.au