Aleta Serena King
Aleta King is director of the Conservatorium of Music at Avondale College of Higher Education in Australia, a position she has held since 2012. She is artistic director of the Avondale’s premier vocal ensemble, The Promise, director of the Avondale Singers and Avondale Chamber Orchestra, and lecturer in musicianship and conducting.
Prior to King’s appointment at Avondale she lectured at The University of Queensland, The University of Melbourne, Queensland Conservatorium, and guest presented for the Australian Society for Music Education. She has also been a guest presenter and lecturer for the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME), Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia (KMEIA) and the Australian National Choral Association (ANCA).
The elder of two daughters of Brian and Barbara Carruthers King, Aleta was born in and spent most of her childhood in Brisbane, Australia. Her mother, a singer, comes from a musical family of German ancestory who have been involved in music as professionals and amateurs for generations. She recently wrote about how her mother and maternal grandmother provided her earliest training in music:
Music has always been an integral part of my life, my very earliest musical memories being those of my mother singing to me. I was blessed to have a very sound music education from the very beginning; my mother tells me that I gave my first public performances together with her on stage before I was even born. An accomplished amateur musician with a gifted voice, she encouraged me to sing, first in unison together with her on the melody and then later on the harmony parts.
My maternal grandmother introduced me to the piano when I was four and soon after taught me to harmonize using just three chords, tonic, dominant, and subdominant. Once I’d figured out that I could play anything I wanted by using just my ears and these three chords the new and exciting world of improvisation became my favorite pastime. My grandparents retired to the seaside and even as a little girl, although I loved the beach, I preferred to spend long happy days over many a summer holiday amusing myself by teaching myself to improvise on their numerous pianos and organs.
When I was ten, my mother asked my sister Jacinta and me to choose an instrument to learn. I chose the flute, my sister the violin. I still don’t remember why I chose the flute or my first flute lesson, but I vividly recall my sister’s first violin lesson. I remember being transfixed from the very first moment I saw and heard this instrument come to life in her lesson, keenly observing and memorizing every precious detail of the lesson from beginning to end.
I could not let the instrument out of my sight and kept a vigilant watch as she carried it home in its case and laid it down on the floor beside the piano. I waited for her to leave the violin unattended and then tiptoed into the room and quickly opened the case, picked it up, put it on the shoulder rest, tightened the bow, and began to play everything I had heard in the lesson.
This scenario became a regular weekly event that usually resulted in tears and tantrums from both my sister and me. I just could not understand why she didn’t like me playing her violin. My obsession with my sister’s violin had nothing to do with sibling rivalry and everything to do with finding myself through the violin. The violin chose me and that was the beginning of my lifelong love of that instrument.
Because Aleta attended a primary and secondary SDA school where there were no music programs, she studied music privately. Her first violin teacher, Jan Cawse, nurtured her growth in playing and passion for the instrument through use of the Suzuki method. Later teachers included Carol Slater (UK) for violin and Max Olding (AUS) and Orsolya Szabo (Hungary) for piano.
King earned her Associate of Music, Australia in 1993 on piano, and then attended the Queensland Conservatorium, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in music with honors in 1995, with piano and violin as her first and second performing areas, respectively, and winning the Ellaways B.A. Music prize for piano performance. The following year she completed a Post Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) and Instrumental Music (Strings) at the University of Queensland.
She then traveled extensively, completing Grade 8 violin under Carol Slater through Trinity College, London, and finishing a Diploma of Music Pedagogy in 2003 and an Advanced Diploma of Choral Conducting in 2004 in Hungary at the Liszt Academy's Kodály Institute. While studying in Hungary she received generous financial support from the International Kodály Society's Sarolta Kodály Scholarship, the Kodály Institute's Sarolta Kodály Foundation Scholarship, and the Hungarian Government Scholarship.
While in Europe, King accepted an invitation to become a soprano with, and musical director of the London Adventist Chorale (2001 to 2005), which performed for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace in 2002. The experience with LAC laid the foundation for the Brisbane Adventist Voices upon her return, which she conducted from 2006 to 2011.
Following her return to Australia, she completed a Master of Music Studies in Choral Conducting and Musicianship Pedagogy at the University of Queensland in 2007. From 2005 to 2011, she taught in the music program at the University of Queensland, where she received best teacher nominations in her final year. She is currently enrolled in a D.M.A. degree program in Conducting under the tutelage of Dr. Neil McEwan at the Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney.
King is an engaging guest presenter and choral and orchestral conductor. The Promise of Avondale under her direction has released two CDs (Jesus: HIStory and O Give Thanks) and were state finalists in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Vocal a cappella competition in 2012 which led to a support performance alongside the German a cappella vocal group Amarcord.
Under King’s direction Avondale Conservatorium also produced a DVD of a live performance of the Messiah in 2013. King was choral director for a CD by Chapel artists Barry and Cecily Harker in 2013, and violinist and backup vocalist for two CDs in 2007 and 2015 by Sandra Entermann, also a Chapel artist.
Sources: Biography at the Avondale Conservatorium of Music website; Completed questionnaire, February 2016; Resume, 2016 and email, 10 March 2106.