Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

The power of Three: music trio light up Singapore

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) ensemble Three recently returned from a tour of Singapore where they performed and delivered masterclasses at three of Singapore’s leading music teaching institutions.

Part of a wider strategy to engage students in the region, the tour also provided prospective students the chance to explore study options at the MCM and discuss the application and audition process.

The brainchild of Co-Heads of Brass Don Immel and Dr Joel Brennan, together with Head of Guitar Dr Ken Murray, Three is an innovative music project that brings together elements of classical contemporary music with new non-traditional elements including loop pedals and electronics.

Trombonist Don Immel said he put Three together as a way to commission new works by Australian composers and engage new audiences through performance. “It’s about working with original sounds and musical structures that are interesting for us as musicians, but also approachable for audiences.”

Their latest exploits took the trio to Singapore, where they showcased both their music and the opportunities available to Singaporean students at the MCM. Performing for the first time in Singapore, the trio was well received by teachers, students and alumni at Singapore’s School of the Arts. The event was attended by Tracey Harris, Austrade Commissioner to Singapore.

The trip was also a chance to deliver masterclasses to students at some of Singapore’s top music schools. The trio held workshops at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Joel Brennan delivered a trumpet masterclass at the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

Trumpeter Joel Brennan with guitarist Ken Murray (left) and trombonist Don Immel (right).
Three perform in Singapore: trumpeter Joel Brennan with guitarist Ken Murray (left) and trombonist Don Immel (right). Image: Jack Sim

They rounded out the tour at the University of Melbourne Singapore Open Day where they held a pre-audition workshop for MCM hopefuls.

Auditions in Singapore happen in November and Immel is looking forward to seeing more students enrolling in music programmes at the MCM.

“The quality of the students coming out of Singapore is fantastic – it was really wonderful to get to work with such passionate musicians and we’re really hoping to see more students join us in Melbourne next year,” said Immel.

Although Singaporean students rank among the highest international enrolments at the University of Melbourne, the number of students enrolling in music courses has historically been low. Three’s visit is part of a wider strategy to encourage Singaporean students to pursue study at the MCM.

The MCM plans to extend recruitment activities in the region and hopes to expand to other countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong and China in the future.

Singapore auditions for the MCM will be held on Saturday 7 November – visit the Faculty of VCA & MCM website for more information or contact Teri Ng, Country Manager (Singapore), terin@unimelb.edu.au.

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.