An unprecedented opportunity has opened for young people living within a 100-kilometre radius of Goulburn to join an orchestra right on their doorstep.
The Hume Conservatorium is offering a pathway for young musicians to join the new Hume Youth Orchestra led by Hume Con staff members Liam Meany, Isabella Brown and Donna Seipelt.
The Hume Youth Orchestra will be the representative Southern Highlands and Tablelands Regional Youth Orchestra formed from the young orchestral musicians that live in the Hume Conservatorium region. Through their participation in HYO, members will be able to audition for the Regional Youth Orchestra, the most elite regional youth orchestra in Australia.
Established by the NSW State Conservatorium, the Hume Conservatorium provides performing ensembles and music education to students from across the Southern Tablelands, including Yass and Queanbeyan, through to Mittagong and the Southern Highlands.
Chief executive and artistic director of Hume Conservatorium Paul Scott-Williams says there is nothing like the thrill of playing in an orchestra.
“You cannot describe the power of being in an orchestra until you experience it. It is such a unifying, elevating kind of experience for kids and they get it,” Mr Scott-Williams says.
Mr Scott-Williams says the region’s most powerful music people are now on-board to lead the youth orchestra, creating a unique opportunity for students.
Faced with a choice like everyone in the arts community to either stumble from the shattering experience of COVID-19 or burst out with new ideas, initiatives and creativity to drive a resurgence in the arts and orchestras, Mr Scott-Williams says he chose the latter.
The new Hume Youth Orchestra for students aged 8 to 25 closes a gap that until now has seen many young people leave their music behind when their schooling is completed. Now they can step up as they get older and work towards a leadership role within an orchestral context.
Hume Conservatorium has three talented conductors on staff, Isabella Brown, Liam Meany and Donna Seipelt all of whom have broad national and international orchestral backgrounds.
“They are also wonderful teachers,” says Mr Scott-Williams. “They really understand how to deliver the instrument to their students. They know how to talk about it; they don’t talk down to kids to make music seem like an elitist and difficult thing. They can make it a more tangible experience for them.”
After Mr Scott-Williams’ chance meeting in Canberra with conductor Leonard Weiss, who has returned to Canberra from America after being mentored by some of the world’s best conductors, he has readily agreed to be the new orchestra’s Patron. He has also asked to be involved from the ground up and work with the children in a very active and engaged role.
“I’m a big believer in the value of music in and of itself, whether it is a career direction or aspiration or not,” says the artistic director. “I don’t expect every kid that gets into the Hume Youth Orchestra will necessarily want to follow it into a career. Some may.
“It is about being involved for the experience of it. You are making music in a unique environment; an orchestra is a huge musical ‘animal’, fantastic fun, really exciting and teaches kids so many wonderful life lessons about discipline, teamwork, positive socialisation,” he said.
The combined orchestra will rehearse together once a month, rotating at either Goulburn, Yass or Queanbeyan (in fairness to parents having to travel).
In Goulburn, the much-anticipated Creative Precinct@HumeCon, a spacious renovation worth $1.5 million to the historic conservatorium building, should be completed in May and will be a stunning venue for the new orchestra.
Mr Scott-Williams says joining the youth orchestra will not require an audition, “but we are asking students to make a little film of themselves playing and send it in; we would like them to be playing around Grade 3 level”.
“We want to see them playing, just so we know where to place them in the ensemble; we want to hit the ground running.”
You can only audition for the Regional Youth Orchestra if enrolled with a regional conservatorium. All students enrolled in the Hume Youth Orchestra will be enrolled with Hume Conservatorium.
“If they then strive to reach a higher level of playing they will be able to audition for the Regional Youth Orchestra which they may not have had access to before,” Mr Scott-Williams said.
He says the Regional Youth Orchestra is a magnificent ensemble.
“It is auditioned for every year by the highest-level youth players in NSW and they have done some incredible work over the years, and have even done workshops and concerts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, and Australian World Orchestra.”
Participation in the new Hume Youth Orchestra could be a gateway to even greater musical adventures!
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