Hall of fame

Three distinguished Elder Con alumni share their inspiring career journeys

The iconic place where the wonder of music has been celebrated for more than 100 years and where world-class musicians have delighted audiences with their outstanding talent is being refurbished.

Elder Hall, part of Australia’s oldest tertiary music school, The Elder Conservatorium of Music (or the Con as it is affectionately known), is one of the country’s finest concert halls. Designed in a Florentine gothic style by architect Frank John Niash, and built by Walter Charles Torode, the Hall was officially opened on 26 September 1900. A bequest from Sir Thomas Elder in 1897 made the erection of the imposing Adelaide icon possible. 

To celebrate our Elder ‘Take a Seat’ campaign, where the community can help preserve and enhance the Hall for future generations, we asked three of our internationally renowned Elder graduates where their musical journeys have taken them. 

Anna Butterss

Anna Butterss
Photo by Brian E Bixby

Anna Butterss

Honours Degree of Bachelor of Music
(Jazz Performance)
Class of 2012

Anna is a jazz bassist and composer from Adelaide. She has been living, working and creating in Los Angeles since 2014.

After graduating from the Elder Conservatorium in 2012, I moved to the US with a scholarship to do a Master of Music in Jazz Studies at Indiana University. Since then, I have been living in Los Angeles, where I perform, record and tour with various artists, including Phoebe Bridgers, Jenny Lewis, Jeff Parker, Makaya McCraven and Aimee Mann. 

I have so many years of memories at Elder Hall, starting with my first concert there as a teenager with the Adelaide Youth Orchestra. I also remember seeing the Elder Conservatorium Big Band play-that got me really excited about studying at the Con. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I spent a lot of time in Elder Hall rehearsing and performing with the Con’s Symphony and Chamber orchestras, so it’s a place that holds a lot of formative memories for me. 

Playing at Madison Square Garden with Jenny Lewis, opening for Harry Styles, was a major career highlight. Another bucket list moment was a show with Meshell Ndegeocello, where we both played bass together. 

In 2022 I’ll be touring with Andrew Bird and Madison Cunningham, which will be really fun, and then I’m getting ready to release my first record, Activities.

My advice for budding musicians is to lean into the community aspect of being a musician. It’s easy to focus inward when we spend so much of our time practising, but it’s a much more enriching experience to be connected to the wider musical community-going to shows, playing with other people, collaborating and supporting each other.

Andrew Bain

Andrew Bain
Photo by Matthew Imaging

Andrew Bain

Bachelor of Music
Class of 1994

Born and raised in Australia, Andrew now lives and works in Los Angeles as the principal horn of the LA Philharmonic, a music teacher and entrepreneur behind the Invested Musician.

I have been the principal horn since 2011 for the LA Philharmonic. In the winter season we play at Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA, and in summer we perform at the Hollywood Bowl. I also teach at the Colburn School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival and in my start-up, the Invested Musician that I co-founded with my wife Rupal. 

Seeing young people improve and achieve their goals-and being able to support that journey-is what I enjoy most about teaching. 

I’ve played many times at Elder during my time at the University. I played my first orchestral concert with the Elder Conservatorium Orchestra and my first professional gig there in 1993. It’s a very special place with beautiful acoustics.

Career highlights include winning my first orchestra job with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (I grew up listening to and learning from players in that orchestra) and working for the LA Philharmonic with one of the world’s most famous conductors. Performing John Williams’ incredible solos on the Star Wars soundtracks:  The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was also a dream come true. 

Playing with Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the much-anticipated reopening of the Sydney Opera House has been the main highlight of 2022, as well as premiering horn concerto with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the World Premier of Paul Deans. After that, I'm also touring with the Australia World Orchestra to London, Edinburgh, Sydney and Melbourne.

Anne Cawrse

Anne Cawrse
Photo by Angus Northeast

Anne Cawrse

PhD Music Folio/Composition
Class of 2008

Anne Cawrse is an award-winning Australian composer of acoustic solo, chamber, orchestral and vocal works, based in Adelaide. She currently teaches second-year composition students at the University of Adelaide.

I’m often delighted and surprised about how much you can learn about yourself and music more broadly from teaching. It’s really rewarding, and the one-on-one lesson scenario we have is quite unique. There are not a lot of opportunities at uni to spend that amount of time with one person. It’s very grounding and illuminating, helping students along their journey and hearing different perspectives and thoughts about music. Elder Hall is such a special and beautiful space with a lovely acoustic.

I have had many premieres there over the years, starting right back when I was a student at the Elder Conservatorium. I wrote a ballet suite for orchestra in my Honours year. The Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra performed it at an evening concert in Elder Hall in 2002. More recently, in 2020, the Australian String Quartet premiered my work, A Room of Her Own, at Elder Hall. This work was supposed to go on a national tour around the country, but COVID had other plans. 

I did win a couple of rather lovely awards last year for A Room of Her Own – the 2021 APRA AMCOS Art Music Award for chamber work of the year and the 2021 Albert H Maggs composition award. It’s been wonderful to have that national recognition for the piece. 

I’ve recently released my first album, most of which was recorded in Elder Hall with some of Adelaide’s finest chamber musicians. It has taken a few years to put it together, but I’m really proud of the end result. It includes works for string quartet, soprano and guitar, and I believe it demonstrates the range and scope of who I am as a composer.

Story by Bianca Chaptini

Tagged in lumen Spring 2022, lumen, alumni profiles