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Musicians playing in the orchestra pit
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Con grad forges accomplished career in music theatre

16 March 2021
Meet the Associate Musical Director for Muriel’s Wedding the Musical
Bachelor of Music (Performance) grad, Katie Robinson, reflects on how her degree helped to prepare her to “enjoy having the best job in the world”.
Female holding certificate at award ceremony

Katie received the prestigious Rob Guest Endowment Musician’s Award in 2018.

Like many Con grads, Katie Robinson (Bachelor of Music (Performance)), had dreams of becoming a conductor from a young age.

After a spell of obsessively reading as many conductors’ biographies as she could lay her hands on, Katie decided a piano degree was a good place to start. “I thought, If it’s good enough for Ashkenazy, it’s good enough for me!”

At the age of 15, Katie set her sights on studying piano at the Con. "I attended the Con’s Open Day three years in a row. I recognised the Con's prestige and international reputation and dreamt of graduating amongst a cohort of high calibre musicians.”

During her four year degree, Katie spent many hours in the vocal department accompanying singing lessons. "Here, a singer and I enjoyed pranking the illustrious Dr Narelle Yeo by dressing up in her same outfit to class,” Katie remembers fondly.

Since graduating from the Con in 2017, Katie has worked full time as a freelance musician. “My studies at the Con were foundational to forging my career in music, and I’m incredibly grateful for lessons learnt in musicianship, performance and professionalism.”

“I love performing across a range of styles, but the majority of my time has been spent in musical theatre, where I can be found accompanying auditions and rehearsals, playing keyboard in the orchestra pit and conducting from the podium.”

Katie has played keyboard on the Australian touring productions of Beautiful the Carol King Musical (Michael Cassel), Jersey Boys (New Theatrical) and Book of Mormon (Gordon Frost Organisation).

She is also in demand as an accompanist and audition pianist. “A highlight for me was touring as Associate Musical Director for Muriel’s Wedding the Musical which played to houses in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.”

Performers on stage at Muriels Wedding the Musical

Katie toured with the Australian cast of Muriel’s Wedding (Global Creatures) as Assistant Music Director in 2019.

For Katie, there is no such thing as a typical day’s work. “When working in musical theatre, I flip my body clock to quasi-nocturnal, and can be found accompanying in a rehearsal room by day, and performing in a dark pit by night."

"Alternately, I might be packing a car load of gear and heading to a regional centre, vocal coaching and accompanying, a spot of teaching piano lessons and practising! Early swims in the ocean, gardening and cooking also make frequent appearances throughout the week."

For students thinking about a career in music, Katie has some advice, “versatility is arguably a performer’s most lethal weapon, and is critical to pursuing a successful freelance career. Work hard, work smart and embrace every opportunity that comes your way!”

“It’s true what they say, only pursue music if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else! If that’s you, prepare to enjoy having the best job in the world!”

Building on the conservatorium's expertise in producing broadly educated musicians, the school will be launching a new a new principle study area in Music Theatre in 2022. Students will develop skills in singing, acting and dance, to create triple threat musicians. “The Music Theatre course would have been of huge interest to me! I am so excited to see a long awaited and high quality option for performers in Sydney!” said Katie.

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