Backstage with our Education Program Coordinator

Meet Callum Kennedy

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Backstage with our Education Program Coordinator

Performing the music on stage is only half the job – behind the scenes there are incredible people who make a concert what it is.

Meet Callum Kennedy – black belt in Martial Arts, avid gamer, young composer and education coordinating extraordinaire. We caught up with Callum to chat about his passion for classical music education, trading Pokémon cards and playing guitar. 

Tell us about your role at Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

As the Coordinator of the Education Program at QSO, my role largely revolves around the creation, production, and dissemination of education materials for schools and other educational institutions.

Why do you believe classical music education is important?

As someone raised on popular contemporary music I found that I only truly came to understand, unpack, and appreciate music when I started learning the classical guitar. Rather than creating an ‘us and them’ dynamic that many worry elitist classical music education inspires, I ended up developing a newfound appreciation for my pop music, whilst nurturing a new love for classical music. I think that limiting yourself to one perspective of music education hinders your ability to perceive music as a holistic entity.

What made you fall in love with classical music?

I grew up playing video games when they were still somewhat struggling with technologies and hardware capacity. Listening to sweeping ‘orchestral’ scores accompanying final fantasy games. I started to notice little tricks that the composers would employ to re-use melodies and other musical material, and I sort of fell into enjoying classical music through trying to intellectualise it.

If you could sit down and have dinner with one composer who would it be and why?

John Cage. He’s such an incredibly absurd individual where his music almost walks the line of being more thought experiment than music. I would just love to pick his brains over a simple meal looking out over the Brisbane river. Also his Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano is an absolute banger of a piece and really had a profound effect on me as a composer.

Do you play any instruments?

While I am trained as a composer, I’m only formally trained in playing the guitar. I’m very lucky to have had a wide, varied experience with guitar playing and education, so most of the time I like to identify myself as a ‘contemporary-classical-electric-guitarist’. Partially because nobody knows what that is and I can get away with also not knowing what that is. 

When you’re not at work, where can we find you?

Splayed out on my couch with a PlayStation controller in one hand and a dog in the other. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be *my* dog. I just feel like it’s a requirement at this point. Otherwise you can generally find me in a nondescript dojo doing a nondescript martial art, or in some kind of game store teaching kids how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (but my money is on the couch thing).