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Meet graduate Nathanael Koh: making his own kind of music
13-year-old Nathanael Koh is one of 3,384 people graduating from ANU in December 2023. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU
Friday 15 December 2023
"One of the youngest students in ANU history is on a path to his PhD, one composition at a time.
A composer-in-residence for the Singapore Kids’ Philharmonic Orchestra, Koh started primary school at age three, high school at seven and university at 11. But his youth hasn’t always been an advantage when it comes to his education. After finishing his Bachelor of Music in late 2022, he applied to do honours at a university in Singapore but was unsuccessful.
'They wouldn’t let me in because I was too young,' Koh says. 'But then Professor Kim Cunio at ANU said he would take me in based on my merit and not my age.'
Cunio, the Head of the ANU School of Music, remembers receiving the request to assess an 'unorthodox' application. It was only once he had been impressed by the strength of the proposal that he noticed the applicant’s date of birth. He consulted with other members of the faculty and the consensus was that age shouldn’t be a barrier...