Alumni Profile: David Vance

David was one of the first students to enrol in Wollongong Conservatorium in 1972, studying piano with Nan Price. In those early years, an active student cohort welcomed the opportunity to participate in chamber and vocal ensembles, in which he discovered the enjoyment of performing with others rather than as a soloist.

Completing an honours degree in English literature in 1974 at the Wollongong University College, David went on to study for a BMus (Hons) at Sydney University, graduating in 1978. These qualifications in turn led to casual teaching appointments at the University of Wollongong, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and Sydney University. In 1982 he was appointed as the Music Development Officer at the University of Wollongong where he was responsible for promoting musical activities on campus, extending these into the local region through community engagement. This brief allowed him to further two initiatives established in 1978: the first was the direction of several children’s operas which linked Conservatorium and University students and staff with children from local schools to give performances of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, the world premiere of Anne Boyd’s opera, The Little Mermaid, and later the commissioning of The Piper’s Promise from composer and colleague Andrew Ford.

The second was the (Wollongong) University Singers, a chamber choir of some twenty voices which subsequently gave numerous performances of a cappella repertoire over the next twenty five years. Collaborations with the Illawarra Choral Society and the BHPYO saw him conduct several major choral orchestral works including Haydn’s The Creation, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

David Vance

His close association with the Wollongong Conservatorium continued in several roles: as a piano teacher, a Conservatorium Board member, and conductor of the then BHP Youth Orchestra (1987-1996) with which he presented a wide ranging repertoire including music by Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams and Stravinsky.

An Italian Government Scholarship took him to the Accademia Chigiana in Siena for studies in orchestral conducting. In 1996, he furthered his interest in vocal accompaniment with private studies in Austria and England, returning to work with vocal students at Wollongong University and the Wollongong Conservatorium.

Since his retirement from the University of Wollongong in 2012 as Associate Professor and Sub Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts, he has maintained a busy schedule as an accompanist and chamber musician. He occasionally performs keyboard / continuo parts for Steel City Strings for whom he writes program annotations.

He is currently the accompanist for the Illawarra Choral Society, con voci, and the Wollongong Conservatorium Chamber Choir. David recently joined Conservatorium colleagues Suzanne Cowan Cecilia Bersée to form Zefiro, a trio for flute, violin and piano.