‘My school didn’t even have a single music teacher’: Recital Centre announces life-changing Accelerando cohort

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‘My school didn’t even have a single music teacher’: Recital Centre announces life-changing Accelerando cohort

Words by Staff Writer

A select group of eight school students from across the state are being given a rare opportunity to take their music career to the next level with a prestigious music acceleration program run by Melbourne Recital Centre.

Representing a cross-section of the best young musical talent from across the state, the 2024 Accelerando cohort has been revealed. This year, a remarkable 50 percent of selected students hail from regional Victoria, with one student planning to fly almost 500km from his native Mildura to access the program.

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The selective-entry Accelerando program provides exceptional young musicians with a year-long tailored learning outline to hone their craft and build a career in music. Working in collaboration with Australia’s premier music facility, students have the opportunity to attend lessons with leading industry professionals, world-class concerts and masterclasses, access high-quality music technology and perform in an end of year recital in Melbourne Recital Centre’s Primrose Potter Salon.

Eight students from years 10, 11 and 12 were selected for the 2024 Accelerando program through a series of rigorous auditions, with many drawn to the program in order to access a world-class music education not available in their home towns.

Mildura-born and raised Courtney McMullan was selected based on his exceptional talent as a guitarist and singer-songwriter. Having signed his indie-rock band Birddog with Gold Coast-based indie label Dark Escapes at only 14 years old, the year 11 student has already played with the likes of Reece Mastin and says he’s eager to take the next step in his career.

“There aren’t too many opportunities in the music scene in Mildura, so I am extremely grateful to be a part of this program. Even though I will be flying to and from Melbourne on each weekend that I will be in Melbourne, I imagine I’ll get used to it quickly and the benefits the program offers make it worth every kilometre,” McMullan said.

“As a musician living in a rural area like Mildura comes with its ups and downs. Growing up I had diagnosed anxiety, this was definitely a setback when wanting to try new things, often having very physical reactions. But I’m proud that I’ve been able to overcome these challenges to continue to develop my sound and build a career as a recording artist.”

Electric bass player Gus Crannaford, a year 12 student hailing from Cann River in Victoria’s east, said it felt surreal to be selected for the program.

“I grew up in a musical family but growing up where I did opportunities were limited – my school didn’t even have a single music teacher. I had to learn to make the most of what was on the table, including learning online and having a go at amazing opportunities like the Accelerando program. It’s definitely paid off and I’m looking forward to being able to connect with prominent and inspiring musicians this year,” he said.

Melbourne Recital Centre’s Learning and Access Coordinator, Belinda Ashe, said, “Many of this year’s students hail from communities with limited access to musical opportunities, owing to constrained funding and remote locations. They are producing amazing work for their age, and it’s truly exciting that we can provide them with the opportunity to refine their skills further and prepare for a promising career in the industry.”

Run annually, the Accelerando program is open to Victorian Government Secondary School students in years 10, 11 and 12 who experience geographic, financial or other barriers to accessing high quality music experiences. Students must also have a performance level of AMEB Grade 5 or higher, and a demonstrated commitment and passion to study music at tertiary level and pursue a creative career.

The free program is one of the many opportunities offered through Melbourne Recital Centre. Its Learning, Access and Community Engagement Programs are all philanthropically funded and provide free professional development to young musicians.

The 2024 Accelerando cohort

  • Bodhi Trebilcock Taylor, Drum kit Daylesford College
  • Courtney McMullan, Voice/Guitar Mildura Senior College
  • Claire Darrigan, Flute Buckley Park College
  • Raiyan Galvin, Guitar Cobram Secondary College
  • Kat Dunshea, Voice Templestowe College
  • Gus Crannaford, Electric bass Cann River P-12 College
  • Georgia Sustenance, Voice Cheltenham Secondary College
  • Thomas Dower, Vibraphone Ringwood Secondary College

For further information, visit melbournerecital.com.au/learn/accel/