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Con grad makes a career in New York

26 November 2020
How a Con graduate became a Music Director and Composer at Mophonics
Since studying composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Shea Duncan has gone on to have a successful career as a Composer and Music Director in New York.
Portrait photo of composer Shea Duncan

Shea Duncan has always been passionate about composing for the screen. After graduating from the Con with a Bachelor of Music (Composition) in 2012, he was fortunate enough to land an internship at a company that specialises in bespoke music for advertising and television. “It was a fantastic learning experience for me” said Shea. “I remember one day a composer had some down time and let me loose in his studio. I was completely engrossed, lost track of time and was slapped with a parking ticket!”

In 2013 Shea co-founded his own company, Composr, where he was the Creative Director. “During that time, we worked with some of Australia’s top agencies including Clemenger BBDO, DDB, Droga5 and GPY&R scoring campaigns for brands like McDonald’s, Qantas, Woolworths, Colgate, Vogue, Campbell's and Dick Smith,” Shea said.

In 2017, Shea moved to New York to take up the position of Music Director at Mophonics, who write songs and scores for some the world’s greatest brands. “A highlight this year was my score for World of Warcraft, ‘A Toast to 15 Years’ taking out the AMP Award for Best Original Song.”

A Toast to 15 Years

One of the things Shea loves most about his job is that every day offers a unique creative challenge. “One day a client brief can call for a sweeping orchestral score, the next a spatial electronic score for a VR experience or a remix of Sinatra for a film trailer,” Shea explains. “Aside from composing, my day might involve heading to an agency to take a brief, leading a recording session or attending a final mix.”

Working as a screen composer, Shea is required to be fluent in a wide variety of genres and credits the diversity of training he received at the Con as invaluable. “The Con was always held up as the place to go if you were serious about pursuing a career in music. I played in both my high school stage band and concert band and my music teachers all encouraged me to audition,” explains Shea. “The fact that the Con is situated in one of the most picturesque corners of Sydney didn't hurt either!”

“I formed so many great friendships at The Con that continue to this day, so the list of antics is long and continuing.”

One of the best pieces of advice Shea has received is, "if you want to be a film composer, don’t forget half of your title: film. No matter what your individual career goals are, I feel this advice rings true. The Con provides one of the best musical educations you can get but musicianship alone will only get you so far. It’s crucial to speak to industry pros you admire and study their success. See what additional skills they have cultivated and apply that logic to your own career path."


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