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Where are they now – Edward Fairlie

Music

We were always a very tight-knit group in the music department, so getting to have fun with your friends and play music in interesting places was always a buzz. Highlights include a trip to Tasmania on the ferry, a three-week tour in the US, and Mr Smith’s heart-thumping games of “Crocodile” at the many Anglesea camps.

At school I loved Music but I also loved all the Humanities subjects and the teachers that taught them.

After graduating I completed a Bachelor of Music Improvisation from the Victorian College of the Arts (now Melbourne Uni) in 2003, going back for Honours in Composition 10 years later. Time not studying since leaving school has been spent teaching, performing, composing and arranging music in any way I could. I play trumpet, piano and sing, as well as write music for ensembles ranging from symphony orchestras to big bands and everything between, and I write and sing my own songs. I’ve sung backing vocals and played trumpet with Gotye, Julia Stone and with the vocal group the Idea of North. I’ve also dressed up as a banana, a bunch of grapes, a Christmas tree and a football in public.

In the last few years I’ve played in the pit orchestras for several shows that came to Melbourne including Aladdin, Evita, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was just starting a season playing with Orchestra Victoria for the Australian Ballet when COVID-19 hit and brought all live performances to a halt, which was really disappointing. Since lockdown, however, I have written a musical with my housemate Brendan Tsui called Nuggetman, about a man made of chicken nuggets. It’s exactly as silly as it sounds, but we wrote the songs, orchestrated the score and filmed the show in three months and had a great time. The premiere was streamed online and had about 300 people watching live. The whole process was a wonderful distraction from the current state of things; it was oddly satisfying using skills we’ve developed over many years for such a frivolous purpose, but the feeling we got was that that was precisely what people liked about it, given current events.

I’ve always got composing commissions on the go – I’m currently working on some music for a short animation, and will hopefully have a piece premiered by a chamber group made up of members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in the coming months, although changing restrictions make predicting these things a bit tricky.

What I enjoy most about what I do now is the variety. Of all the things I’m able to do for work as a musician, I don’t think I could do any one of them full time. I don’t have any idea what work I’ll be doing this time next year (or even next month at the moment), but I love that.

At Christian College the music education was first-rate. Both Fiona Gardner and Andrew Dunlop have always worked extremely hard to give their students the best possible opportunities for growth. Their care, passion and imagination took a program with a handful of instrumental music staff and one band and made it one of the strongest programs in the state. I was given the opportunity to develop my musical interests in whatever way I wanted, which has enabled me to have a very diverse career.

Having taught at many different schools over the years, I have found that the level of pastoral care that staff have for students at Christian College is quite rare. My enduring memories of school are of my favourite teachers being good people as well as good educators, so I try to live by the idea that how you treat people is as important, if not more so, than the work you produce. Many of my close friends are former Christian College students and staff.

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