In this edition of Old Girls’ Club News, we are delighted to profile an outstanding alumnus who has been making some ‘remarkable’ waves in the music industry, Dr Kathleen McGuire. Earlier this year, students were fortunate to hear Kathleen’s post-school journey and her many achievements, challenges and aspirations since leaving Mentone Girls’ Grammar in 1982 as House Captain of St Margaret’s, Dux of the School and the inaugural recipient of Music Colours.  

Kathleen said, “It was an enormous honour to speak at Mentone Girls’ Grammar’s assembly on the topic of Action for Impact and also to enjoy the choir's lovely performance of one of my compositions. My 12 years at the School as a student and a teacher paved the way significantly for the years that were to follow in my career; being able to share my story with the students meant a great deal.”

Born in Australia and proud of her 1800s convict ancestry, Kathleen has called Melbourne and San Francisco home and has enjoyed more than three decades of music-making in six countries. She has worked extensively with many orchestras and choirs, as well as ballet, opera and musical theatre companies, including performances at the Sydney Opera House, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. She has earned multiple degrees including a Master of Music degree with Distinction at the University of Surrey (UK) and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Kathleen first started honing her conducting skills at the age of 15 at St Augustine’s in Mentone. Since then, she has participated as a church musician in multiple Christian denominations throughout her life, singing in choirs and playing various instruments. Kathleen is passionate about learning the vast array of religious music spanning hundreds of years in Western culture and other traditions, through to America’s contemporary gospel music rooted in Africa.

She served as the Music Director at St Aidan’s Eplscopal Church in Boulder, Colorado (1996 - 2000) and Minister of Music at the Congregational Church of San Mateo in California (2011 - 2013). In 2014 she was the inaugural conductor of the Hallelujah Gospel Choir, which debuted at the Melbourne International Singers Festival, and in September 2016, she co-conducted one of her pieces ‘Street Requiem’ at Carnegie Hall in New York, as part of Sing the World 2016!

One of Kathleen’s most notable projects is No Excuses! - a choral suite which supports victims of domestic violence through music and friendship, composed by Kathleen in collaboration with another MGGS Old Girl of renown, singer-songwriter Christina Green (1981). No Excuses! has been performed multiple times since the premiere in November 2015, including a performance in Bendigo where they received a standing ovation, for Rosie Batty at a fundraiser at Crown Casino and on ABC’s program ‘Breaking the Cycle’. Kathleen told ABC that their songs leave a ‘message of hope’ for domestic violence victims.  

“People stand up and sing with us and that’s exactly what this is about – making no excuses. We don’t want excuses from people who are committing violence and we don’t want excuses from society who make excuses for those people. We don’t want individuals to make excuses for the harm being done to them. Without exception, all the women we spoke to in gathering the stories for the songs wanted to leave everyone with a message of hope and inspiration, so they would have courage to stand up for themselves and not be afraid to tell their story,” said Kathleen.

We look forward to hearing many of Kathleen’s awe-inspiring adventures and achievements in the music industry throughout the years. If you know an Old Girl doing remarkable things in Australia or overseas, please contact us at oldgirls@mentonegirls.vic.edu.au.

We’d love to hear from you!