Alumni Profile: Nicola Crowe

UK based flautist Nicola knew there was no other instrument for her

“My mum encouraged me to be open minded about other instruments, but I disliked the feeling of strings on my fingers or the buzzing on my lips, and I really loved the sound of the flute.”

Nicola Crowe is a professional orchestral flautist currently based in London who has been described as the most successful flautist to have graduated from WollCon, having played with many international orchestras including: the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the English National Ballet, the Opera Australia Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and the Macao Orchestra.

Nicola began her music career like thousands of other children in the Illawarra, in the Children’s Music Education (CME) program, now known as ChiME.

“My first experience was in the CME. I had an instrument assessment by Jim Powell who recommended the flute for me. I had wanted to play the flute ever since I was introduced to it at CME. In my opinion, there was no other instrument that would do! My mum encouraged me to be open minded about other instruments, but I disliked the feeling of strings on my fingers or the buzzing on my lips, and I really loved the sound of the flute. I had trouble making a sound in my first lesson though, and began by playing the head joint backwards before this was corrected.”

Eventually Nicola played with the BlueScope Youth Orchestra, the Senior Flute Ensemble and sang in the Youth Choir. Tanya Phillips, Manager of the BlueScope Orchestra said she was privileged to have had Nicola play in the ensemble for so many years.

“Being part of BlueScope Youth Orchestra and the Senior Flute Ensemble were highlights for me during my time at Wollongong Conservatorium. We did many tours to amazing places, including Europe, America, Japan and New Zealand which I absolutely loved. I also remember the regional tours with BlueScope Youth Orchestra to South West and Western NSW on the 3801 steam train, wearing my orchestra t-shirts with such pride.”

“The Wollongong Conservatorium has produced some incredibly talented musicians, many of whom went on to study with me at the Sydney Conservatorium, and who I still bump into occasionally now. We joke that there must have been something in the water to produce so many musicians. In reality, it was the work of our teachers and mentors who encouraged our passion for music and instilled a good work ethic. People like Suzanne Cowan, Nigel Edwards and Tanya Phillips.” Said Nicola.

Nicky having just won the intermediate flute prize

Flute teacher Suzanne Cowan is herself an incredibly talented flautist who is a dedicated and encouraging teacher at WollCon setting high standards and helping to create opportunities for her students. She continues to produce Wollongong’s finest flautists.

Nicola, who is now based in the UK as a performer and teacher, is also studying a PGCEi in Group Instrumental Teaching (a masters course in teaching group music).

“In the UK, the government has made it possible for every child in the country to receive group instrumental music instruction. I am really passionate about this program, and the power and potential it has to affect change on children who otherwise wouldn’t have to access instrumental lessons.”

The flute Choir, with Suzanne Cowan (front & centre) and Nicky beside her

“I realise how lucky I was to have the varied and high class music education I received at the Wollongong Conservatorium. It has without a doubt shaped the person I am today. The friendships I made have continued to this day, and the teachers I had, inspired the teacher I strive to be for my students.”

“I will be coming home to play some opera again in February 2022 and spending some quality time with my family in Wollongong, who I haven’t seen for quite a while.”