ACT News


End of an era as Canberra loses world-renowned flautists to Brisbane

They have taught flautists who now perform in orchestras around the world and are themselves musical royalty but Canberra's first couple of the flute is moving to Brisbane as cuts to the ANU School of Music four years ago continue to reverberate.

After nearly 40 years in Canberra, Virginia Taylor and Vernon Hill are relocating to Brisbane where Ms Taylor has been appointed senior lecturer in flute at the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University.

Ms Taylor has been commuting to Brisbane for the past year but has now committed to move north in early January, her reputation attracting the best young flautists in the country. Mr Hill, a highly regarded master teacher of the flute, will also begin working at the conservatorium.

But the move from Canberra has been a wrench. 

"I would rather be doing this job here, without a doubt, we love this city," she said.

Ms Taylor said her hand was forced by what she saw as the School of Music's shift away from performance-based learning following budget cuts in 2012.


"What had happened after 2012, I didn't have any undergraduate students, which was a gap in the country as far as having a good flute program going, but it was also a gap in my life because I loved teaching," she said.

After Ms Taylor took a redundancy in 2012, she was offered a job as head of flute at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne working part-time with postgraduate students, a job she will continue to do, commuting this time from Brisbane.

By coincidence, Mr Hill's son, Daniel de Borah​, a world-class concert pianist, also got a job at Griffith University, he and Ms Taylor sitting wide-eyed at a staff induction day when they were addressed by the pro-vice chancellor.

"He said, 'Griffith University sees the conservatorium as the jewel in the crown of the university'. And the tears are streaming down my face and I thought, 'I'm in the right place'," she said.

"The thing is I'm doing the same job [as in Canberra] but where it can actually function."

Mr Hill came to Canberra in 1980 after being principal flute in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for more than 10 years. He has performed around the world and was the head of flute at the School of Music for 17 years before taking a redundancy in 1998, financial pressures even then apparent in the department. He became a home dad for their​ son, Dominic, while Ms Taylor later also headed the wind department.

"As a team, we produced phenomenal flute players who are now around the world," Mr Hill said.

Ms Taylor performed principal flute with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for more than 10 years and been guest principal flute with many of the major symphony orchestras in Australia and overseas.

The couple met in Canberra when Mr Hill was teaching her flute and they married in 1990.

Mr Hill and Ms Taylor will return to the national capital to perform in the Canberra Symphony Orchestra's major concerts next year, among the growing band of musicians that have to be brought in for the performances.

Canberra will always be in their heart.

"With family here and if Dom's here, we'll be back but who knows? We could be there [in Brisbane] forever. Certainly, at this stage, I can't see that we'd be coming back for work because there isn't work here," she said.