Cultural Precinct

Interview with Ellie Cumming - 2011 Schenberg Fellow (Composition)

Further Information

Schenberg Art Fellowship:
Ellie Cumming, the inaugural winner of the Dr Harold Schenberg Music Prize (Composition).

Ellie Cumming of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts was the inaugural  Schenberg Music Fellowship (formerly the Dr Schenberg Music Prize in Composition) winner, and as a result of winning the prize travelled to America to complete the first semester of her honours year.

Inaugural Schenberg Music Fellowship in Composition winner

Name
Ellie Cumming
Australian University
West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Australian course/degree of study
Bachelor of Music (Honours) - Composition

What motivated you to apply?

Actually, a friend of mine told me about this competition. When I read up on what it was and what it could potentially provide, I realised it could be a wonderful opportunity to get some assistance with a much wanted overseas study experience at this point in my education.

The Prize enables the winner to travel outside of Western Australia (WA) to further their musical studies - where have your travels taken you?

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to be able to study at the California State University of Sacramento (CSUS). This has allowed me to study with some exceptional people and meet peers in America from across the entire country. All of this has provided me with some valuable networks and skills I have brought back with me to Perth.

What study did you undertake overseas?

This prize has allowed me to undertake the first semester of my Honours year at CSUS, studying composition under the esteemed orchestral director, Leo Eylar. It has also allowed me to undertake further studies into external subjects such as conducting under the prestigious Dr Robert Halseth. This really allowed me to advance my knowledge in a career that I hope to continue in.

What key learnings have you been able to bring back to WA?

I have been able to bring back a variety of compositional techniques that I was able to share with my peers in WA in a workshop environment. Co-operative learning with a wide range of educators was brought back and was contributed to the WA compositional community.

What did you enjoy most about your time abroad?

What I enjoyed most about this time was all the variety. The accessibility to renowned and enthusiastic lecturers was particularly inspiring. However, the entire exchange experience was beneficial for my development as a composer as well as an individual.

What’s your fondest memory of your time overseas?

My fondest memory as a composer in California was the gratifying performance of my string quartet work by a professional ensemble. Having the chance to work with them and have them perform and record my work was very motivating.

What’s the next step for you career-wise?

Well, I am nearing the completion of my honours year at WAAPA. Recently I presented my honours recital, for which I had written and had performed a tenor saxophone concerto along with various other works, which was a highlight of my time at WAAPA.

What’s your ultimate aim career-wise?

I would like to pursue postgraduate study preferably overseas and then apply this to a media-based career in music composition.

What advice would you give to people considering applying for the Prize this time around?

I would suggest being specific about what your goal is and how you will achieve this goal. Offer your best work in a highly presentable way and explain who you are and what your ambitions are.

Finally, how has your life changed since winning the award?

This prize has allowed me the opportunity to travel overseas and experience what I may not have in Perth. It has opened my eyes while allowing me to study with highly professional mentors and exploring different techniques.And most importantly it has provided an insight into the broader spectrum of the compositional world that is still nevertheless accessible.

Find out more about the Schenberg Music Fellowship in Composition.