The David Cubbin Memorial Prize is open to non-professional flautists between 16 and 30 years of age. It aims to provide young flautists with the opportunity to prepare and perform works and to compete for a substantial prize.
DAVID CUBBIN MEMORIAL COMPETITIONS will be held next in 2018.
David Cubbin was born in Melbourne in March 1934 and began his musical career in a fife and drum band when he was 8 years old under Stanley Baines. At the age of 13 he won a heat of the Australian Amateur Hour playing the piccolo, and at 16 he was flute soloist with the Peters Junior Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne. At University David won a scholarship to study flute full-time at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music with Leslie Barklamb, and from there graduated and joined the National Opera Company Orchestra as Principal Flute. He attended his first National Music Camp in 1953 at Geelong Grammar School, performing at the opening concert the Ibert Concerto with the Victorian Symphony Orchestra to an audience of 800. He began his career on the Radcliff System flute, changing to the Böhm System flute in the mid 1960s.
David joined the South Australian Symphony Orchestra in 1954 and became Principal Flute the next year under the Conductor Henry Krips, and part-time flute teacher at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 1956. He appeared as a soloist for A.B.C. Subscription Concerts and Youth Concerts, under international and Australian conductors, and in recitals on radio and television. He was also a member of the popular light music orchestra, the Melody Masters Ensemble, which broadcast regularly for the A.B.C. In 1960 David formed the Conservatorium Flute Ensemble, which later became the 30-piece Conservatorium Wind Ensemble, providing performances for the keen students of both woodwind and brass instruments. He served as a flute tutor at National and State music camps.
At the instigation of the Elder Professor of Music, John Bishop, David was appointed a full-time lecturer of flute at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 1964 (this was the first full-time salaried flute teaching position in Australia). He also became a foundation member of the University of Adelaide Wind Quintet, the first full-time salaried chamber music ensemble in Australia. The University of Adelaide Wind Quintet gave concerts in all Australian capital cities and in many country centres, and gave a concert for Her Excellency Lady Casey, wife of the then Governor-General of Australia. Among the first to receive a grant made by the Australia Council for the Arts, and with the assistance of Musica Viva, the University of Adelaide Wind Quintet was the first Australian chamber group to tour overseas. Their first overseas tour took place in 1969, when they gave 50 concerts. In 1973, they toured the U.S.A. and Europe with two aboriginal musicians and didgeridoo, including in their repertoire works especially commissioned from Australian composers such as Sculthorpe, Werder, Meale, J. V. Peters and Dreyfus. They performed in many countries including the U.S.A., Canada, Israel, India and European and South-East Asian cities. The University of Adelaide Wind Quintet made their first of a number of disc recordings in 1967 for W. & G.
David Cubbin had wide experience as a chamber musician and recitalist, performing with the Australian Contemporary Music Ensemble and for the International Society for Contemporary Music, and on Dutch World Radio and in Singapore. In 1971 he obtained his Master of Arts Degree in Musicology from the Flinders University and Adelaide University, writing his thesis on The Flute in the Eighteenth Century. As part of his recital performance for the Degree, David included three short pieces by Vivaldi played on an 18th century wooden flute made by Goulding, Wood & Co. Mr Justice Bright and Mrs Bright of Adelaide loaned this instrument. Only two notes on this flute coincide with the modern fingering.
In the early 1970s, Emerson De Ford of the W. T. Armstrong Company in Elkhart, Indiana, U.S.A., made two gold flutes for David Cubbin (in 1975, these flutes were valued at $5,000 each, compared with about $50,000 for a gold flute today!). David Cubbin said that ‘the tone of a golden flute is richer and more rounded than that of a conventional instrument made of plated alloys or sterling silver’.
While living in Adelaide, David Cubbin was also active as a conductor. In the mid 1960s, he conducted the A.B.C. Studio Orchestra, the Burnside Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Philharmonic Choir. He directed four Summer Music Schools from 1972-1975, held initially at the Elder Conservatorium, then at Carclew in North Adelaide, and later at the Murray Park C.A.E.
David Cubbin was the founder of The Flute Society of South Australia, which was established on July 26th, 1972, and was elected the Flute Society’s first President. He left the Elder Conservatorium in mid 1973 to become Music Development Officer for the Department of T.A.F.E., and the following year he was appointed Head of the Music Department at the Murray Park C.A.E. He was one of three international soloists invited to perform at the National Flute Association’s Convention in Pittsburgh in 1974 and gave masterclasses at music institutions in the U.S.A. and Europe. He also performed at and gave masterclasses for music institutions in Australia and at the Australian Flute Conventions. He was a guest artist at the 2nd New Zealand Flute Convention in October 1992. David Cubbin collaborated with Alison Rosser to prepare the two A.M.E.B. scale books, Scales and Arpeggios for Flute(1973) and Flute Technical Work Book (1989). He was a council member of the South Australian Chapter of A.S.M.E. in 1973 and a member of the Australian College of Education.
On moving to the Canberra School of Music in early 1975 to become Head of the Wind Department, he was invited to become Patron of the Flute Society of South Australia, and in August 1975 he was also invited to become Patron of the A.C.T. Flute Society. David directed the 2nd Australian Flute Convention, held in Adelaide in 1976, and the 4th Australian Flute Convention, held in Canberra in 1980. He was President of the Australian Flute Association Ltd. from 1988 to 1995 and was made a Patron of the Australian Flute Association Ltd. in 1995. He was Acting Assistant Director of the Canberra School of Music for a period of time in 1978, conducted and toured with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and undertook a three-State tour for the A.B.C. in August 1979, appearing with the Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.
After holding positions as Senior Lecturer in Woodwind, Queensland Conservatorium of Music (1979) and Director, School of Arts, Northern Rivers C.A.E., Lismore from 1981, David Cubbin was appointed Professor of Music and Director of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania, in 1985 (the first Australian flautist to obtain professorial rank). He was State Head of the Australian Music Examinations Board and then Federal Chairman, guiding negotiations that resulted in the Australian Music Examinations Board in Victoria becoming a legal entity. He maintained his flute playing and conducting skills with Conservatorium staff and student performances, a highlight during that period being the joint performance by the resident Jazz Quintet of the N.S.W. Conservatorium and the Tasmanian Conservatorium Orchestra. In October 1989, David Cubbin received an invitation to visit a number of centres in China as one of three leading musicians in the “Internationally Famous Musician” series, and to serve as Visiting Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing as part of the National Day Celebrations commemorating the 40th Aniversary of the People’s Republic of China. David Cubbin was accorded the title of Emeritus Professor by the University of Tasmania in 1990.
Professor Cubbin moved to Sydney, where he was Head of the Higher Education Office in the Ministry of Education until his retirement from this position at the end of 1995. He served as a member of various Course Accreditation committees in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. He was a conductor and wind tutor for the Balmain Sinfonia, and a board member of the Sydney Youth Orchestra. In 1993 David Cubbin prepared a report that laid the foundations for Adelaide’s Helpmann Academy for the Performing Arts. In 1995 he became a member of the Board of Governors of the Australian Aid for Cambodia Fund and visited the University of Cambodia in 1996. In January 1996, Prof. Cubbin accepted the position of Executive Chair of the Academic Board of the Australian Institute of Music, and was appointed Principal of the Australian Institute of Music in October 1996. He died in Sydney on May 12th, 1997, aged 63 years.
Compiled and written by Robert Brown, with assistance from Mrs Lois Cubbin.