Excellence & Awards

VCE Season of Excellence

Students showcase talents at Top Class

The 2017 Season of Excellence began last week with the Top Class concert series showcasing some of Victoria's most talented performing arts students.

Students of VCE and VCE VET Dance performed a range of styles, including contemporary, tap, jazz and lyrical, at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of the two-day Top Class Dance concerts. At Top Class Sound, a sellout crowd heard performances by Victoria's next generation of young composers in the historic Melba Hall, University of Melbourne. The concert featured performances of original musical works composed by students of VCE Music Performance, Music Investigation, Music Style and Composition and VCE VET Music in 2016.

The Season is a great opportunity for current and future students to be inspired and gain insight into preparing for their VCE studies. We talked with two of our Top Class performers to learn about their creative practice and what Top Class means to them.

Maddison Carr, Top Class Dance

Maddison Carr Top Class dancer posing with her leg and arm up

Maddison Carr

Maddison Carr, who performed her contemporary dance VCE Technique Solo, completed VCE Dance in Year 11 at Cheryl Kaloger Brown School of Dance. This year she is completing Year 12 with Distance Education Victoria, while continuing her ballet training at the Russian Choreographic Academy.

What does it mean for you to be involved with Top Class Dance? I feel really privileged to be involved in Top Class Dance. I have been to the concerts in previous years and they were really valuable experiences. I learnt from listening to the assessors' advice on the criteria and I gathered inspiration for the creation of my own solos. It's amazing for me to come full circle and hopefully inspire other students.

What inspired you to pursue this art form? It is such a beautiful art form, both to perform and to watch. I started ballet when I was three years old. Since then I have tried different styles of dance and have grown particularly passionate about classical ballet. I'm eager to learn new things and push myself to become a better dancer.

Why do you feel it's important to promote the performing arts to young people? I think that the performing arts, and in particular dance, allow young people to express themselves and explore their creative side. Dance can be interpreted differently to showcase individuality and artists can create a piece that reflects their connection to the art form.

Where do you see yourself in the future? I'm very passionate about dance and I see myself working in the dance industry in some capacity in the future. But right now my ultimate goal is to become a professional ballerina and work for a company.

What advice would you give future students? I believe it is important for VCE Dance students to expose themselves to many different opportunities in order to expand their knowledge and creativity in dance. I encourage students to perform in front of as many people as possible to gather valuable feedback.

Jordan Dearsley, Top Class Sound

Jordan Dearsley Top Class musician playing the guitar

Jordan Dearsley

Victorian College of the Arts Secondary College graduate Jordan Dearsley performed his composition Gronk at Top Class Sound. To challenge himself, Jordan decided the piece would be performed with the addition of a vibraphone for the first time. Jordan is currently studying a Bachelor of Music at the Victorian College of the Arts, Southbank.

What does it mean for you to be involved with Top Class Sound? It is a great honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to present my work at Top Class Sound. To be noted among other fantastic musicians and composers across Victoria is truly gratifying.

What inspired you to pursue this art form? Most of my inspiration came from watching and listening to great performers while I was growing up. Also my parents, though not musicians, have always been very enthusiastic about the performing arts. Their passion for music has most certainly rubbed off on me.

Why is it important to promote the performing arts, and in particular music, to young people? We are surrounded by music and it gives young people an avenue to express themselves. Music has a great effect on youth culture, but it is also young people's creative spirit that inspires the innovation and progression of the artistic world.

Where do you see yourself in the future? At the moment I haven't decided what I want to do, but I'm excited to see where music can take me. I plan to invest my time and energy in jazz performance and composition. Not knowing where I will end up thrills me and I'm ready for the opportunities that music will bring.

What advice would you give future students? If you want to improve as a musician, I think it is really important to listen to music and pay close attention to how the music is composed. If you analyse and understand the composition, listening can be just as useful as playing your instrument.

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Top Designs Forums and Talks 2017

Top Designs Forums and Talks support students of VCE Food Studies, Media, Product Design and Technology, Systems Engineering, Theatre Studies − Design, Visual Communication Design and VET Interactive Digital Media. The sessions start on Thursday 23 March 2017 and end on Thursday 18 May 2017. Please refer to Notice to Schools 21/2017 for full details.

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Margaret Schofield Memorial Scholarship

Margaret Schofield Memorial Scholarship for Composition announced

Jack Stacey has been awarded the Margaret Schofield Memorial Scholarship for Composition. He was presented with the scholarship at this year's Top Class Sound concert held on Friday 24 February. The concert featured extraordinary compositions from high-achieving students, performed to a full house at Melba Hall, University of Melbourne.

Jack expressed his deep gratitude for receiving this important recognition of his hard work, as well as the financial support the scholarship will provide him in his future studies. 'The scholarship feels like a blessing,' he says. 'It makes my dreams feel possible to achieve; it will help me gain the training I need to establish a solid career in the arts.'

The scholarship selection panel considers applicants who commit to study music at a tertiary level. Students' study scores for VCE Music Style and Composition, VCE Music Investigation, VCE Music Performance and/or VCE VET Music are also taken into consideration.

Jack's piano composition Nightfall's Lament was inspired by Rachmaninoff's Élégie in E Flat Minor. The hauntingly beautiful melody 'inspired me to make my own composition on what sorrow means to me,' Jack said. With his Year 12 success driving him, Jack is studying for a Bachelor of Music at the University of New England.

The family of the late Margaret Schofield established the scholarships in her name to recognise her achievements as a musician and her commitment to music education. They are coordinated by the VCAA and help recipients to achieve their goal of further study by providing $5000 towards the cost of tertiary study in music. The winners of the Music Performance scholarships will be announced at the Top Class Music concerts on Wednesday 22 March 2017.

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Plain English Speaking Award

Register for the 2017 Plain English Speaking Award

decorative design of head with forty coming out of mouth 

The Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) is a national public-speaking competition that gives students the unique opportunity to talk about topics of importance to them, while developing their speechwriting, research and oratory skills. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the national competition.

Regional finals will be held throughout May and early June, with the winners going on to the semifinal in mid-June. Winners of the state final will have the opportunity to compete in the national final in Victoria on Monday 14 August 2017.

PESA is open to students aged 15 to 18 years of age from all schools in Victoria. Schools may nominate two students to compete. The national winner will receive financial assistance from BBM Youth Support to fly to London to compete in the English Speaking Union International Public Speaking Competition in 2018.

Registration is open from Monday 6 March to Friday 5 May 2017. Further information can be found on the PESA webpages.

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