Dave Eggar impresses future composers at School of Music

7 November 2016

One of the things that was really incredible about the students here at ANU was that I was seeing them have one foot in a very strong classical foundation and yet the other in the future.

He's worked with Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Paul Simon and Norah Jones. Now three-time Grammy nominated cellist and composer Dave Eggar says he wants to hand some of his industry experience and know-how over to the next generation of upcoming composers.

Eggar has spent a week visiting classes at the ANU School of Music where he gave advice to students about their work, their career paths and he even recorded some music pieces to help them with their assignments.

The composer, who studied at Juilliard School and Harvard University, also hosted a public workshop, featured in a special gala concert with the School of Music staff, students and friends.

"It's really offered me the opportunity to take two rivers that exist within my career and really learn more about how to express that to the student body," Eggar said.

Coming from a strong line of classical musicians, he started at the Juilliard School when he was just 7.

He also sang as a boy soprano at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and later continued his studies at Harvard University on a full scholarship, double majoring in composition and bio-physics.

He then went on to complete his Masters and Doctorate at the Juilliard School. During his second year at Juilliard, he signed a deal with Virgin Records.

"I have always wanted to save the teaching portion of my career to a period where I really thought that I had something to really share with students," he said.

"One of the things that was really incredible about the students here at ANU was that I was seeing them have one foot in a very strong classical foundation and yet the other in the future.

"They are going out into a world where they will have to work in film music, in television music, video game music, hip hop, they'll need to tour with artists and they're going to need to bring everything they have to that."

It is one of the most challenging times to be a musician, but it is also one of the most exciting times to be a musician, he said.

"Ten years ago, if you were releasing a record, unless you had major label support, there was no access to radio, there was no access to television outlets. Now that has been completely turned up on its head.

"The pivotal artist who did that was Ingrid Michaelson, who became the first independent artist in the United States with no label whatsoever."

Michaelson broke into the music world simply on iTunes, he said.

"And she really set the model for students like the students at ANU to have strong music skills and to really utilise those in today's market place."

When composers go out into the market place, they need to be able to play, arrange and compose in any style, he said.

"The saddest thing you see is finally you get ... that job you've always wanted, the artist comes along and says 'hey I just want to play a couple of songs with you by ear to make sure you're the player I want' and the violinist they've hired can't play by ear, can't improvise, doesn't have the tool kit for the dream they've wanted," he said.

"When I get hired by people like Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Paul Simon, these people don't want mediocre people who can make sound collages. They want the best people."

During his time at ANU, he also tutored classes including one that focused on music technology, where he helped students break down their thinking processes on how to approach music.