Blackbird Soars - Tim Munro

1 Jan 2014

Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) - '99. After seven years, Tim Munro is still one of the newest birds in the eighth blackbird nest. Turnover has never been a problem for the group, whose eclectic brand of classical music is a must-have for fans and critics alike.

The Chicago-based sextet picked up its third Grammy (Munro’s second) earlier this year, and is about to embark on one of the most ambitious creative projects in its 17-year history.

Designed in collaboration with a composer and choreographer, the new production will see the musicians sing, speak, play and move on stage in an intricate mosaic of theatre, music and dance.

“I have never worked in quite this way before,” said the 35-year-old flautist from Toowong, in central Brisbane. “Dance and theatre open new things in me, and I expect this will totally change the way I exist as a performer.”

There is nothing new about eighth blackbird challenging boundaries. With a performance style that “combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band and the audacity of a storefront theatre company”, the group is building momentum at a stage when many other groups start to lose their puff.

As well as a busy tour schedule that has seen the group tour 40 US states in the past seven years alone, there are composing and recording commitments, concert collaborations, and a musical coaching program that has instilled them as artists-in-residence at some of the most elite campuses across America.

The group’s mission − to engage new audiences in the classical music genre − binds the team of six performers and three management staff, who equally share all creative and business decision-making.

 “There is no one head honcho. All of us are involved in administrative tasks and in the creation and promotion of the brand,” Munro said.  

“Although we are very different and intense people, we are all 100 per cent committed and all constantly thinking about programming, marketing, publicity and getting people to our concerts.”

The perennial search for audience is one of the key reasons Munro left Australia after graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) and further study at the Queensland Conservatorium and Australian National Academy of Music.

“Artistically, people in Australia are comparable with the best in the world. It makes me proud to be an Aussie and I look for every opportunity to come back. Unfortunately we simply don’t have the population for many performers to live off their art full-time.”

The group is active in the social media space and Munro tweets regularly as part of an ongoing quest to connectwith contemporary audiences.

“I am the talkative bird and what I am really good at is outspoken inappropriateness,” he said.