UQ Alumnus Wins Grammy

1 Jan 2014

A self-confessed “music nerd” who dreamed big while studying at UQ has gone on to achieve one of the industry’s biggest accolades - a Grammy Award.

UQ School of Music graduate Tim Munro and his Chicago-based classical group eighth blackbird won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for the piece Meanwhile, at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California.

The Grammys recognise outstanding achievement in music, and each year they honour some of the biggest names in the music industry today. This year’s winners’ list included Gotye and Mumford and Sons and Paul McCartney, as well as lesser-known artists.

Mr Munro, who graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music with first class honours, said music was a long-held passion.

“I was a totally myopic music nerd (at UQ). I more or less lived in the Zelman Cowan building, either torturing myself in a practice room or delving into obscure musical thickets in the fabulous UQ library,” Mr Munro said.

“UQ was the perfect place for me. I was a talented, self-motivated but ultimately insecure young musician, and the UQ School of Music was small enough and gave me enough space to be able to follow my own path with a somewhat obsessive zeal.”

“I was a voracious concert-goer and would hustle to whatever concert was going on in Brisbane that night. Always, always dreaming of big things.”

Despite this passion, he never dreamed of winning a Grammy.

“I used to fantasise about the American classical music scene and have delusional dreams of meeting long-dead legends like Copland, Bernstein and Stravinsky, and listening to old Chicago Symphony recordings,” he said.

Mr Munro looks back on his time at UQ fondly, including his teachers and his student contemporaries, many of whom are still friends.

“Professor Malcolm Gillies, who is now Vice-Chancellor at the London Metropolitan University, was a truly inspiring and intimidating influence. He combined a rigorous attention to academic detail with a passion for all things musical, but always managed to deliver his savage critiques with a glint in his eye,” he said.

Mr Munro said the diversity of music he experienced while studying helped shape eighth blackbird, a musical group that defies classical music convention by concentrating on new music and playing from memory instead of from sheet music.

He joined the eighth blackbird in 2006 after it advertised for a new flautist. At the time he was studying at the Oberlin College in Ohio.

Eighth blackbird also won a Grammy in 2007 for their album Strange Imaginary Animals.

Other highlights from Mr Munro’s career include performing with professional orchestras, chamber groups and new music ensembles around Australia. He has performed with the Queensland Orchestra and performed solo at the Melbourne Arts Festival and Bangalow Festival. He also has recorded for Australian radio and a commercial CD release, as well as participating in training workshops at Carnegie Hall and the Pacific Music Festival.