Sydney is buzzing with the 90 musicians of the Australian World Orchestra about to blitz the stage this weekend. All of them have, at some point in their career called Australia home. They now work with elite ensembles all around the world.
Rehearsals have been full swing and in amongst the orchestral glitterati, are four young musicians hand picked from the Australian Youth Orchestra to train and perform alongside the Masters.
Adam Szabo, 22 is principal cellist with the AYO and holds a Fellowship with the Sydney Symphony as well as free-lancing with other orchestras around the nation. He was palpably excited after his first rehearsal with the orchestra this week, which he described simply as “Heaps of fun!” There are no concessions for the younger musicians – they are expected to perform on just a few rehearsals. Whilst he has worked with some of the more senior musicians before, he sees many new faces in this broad pool of talent and skill.
Asked what the experience meant to his career, he said “Any orchestral experience is vital – my knowledge develops with every concert and every piece. Being surrounded by these amazing musicians and their level of skill allows the knowledge to seep into you”.
Szabo describes the atmosphere of positivity and emphasizes the importance of music making in this culturally young country. He is of Hungarian parentage and both his parents are musicians which tipped the scales towards his career in music over law.
Sophia Ang is a percussionist with the AYO and was delighted and awed to be invited to train and perform with the AWO. “I’m a little bit nervous because I’m not playing with my peers. These are well established people whom I’m watching and learning from all the time. Even if we’re not playing, we watch from the audience and after each piece there is a discussion and suggestions about how to play it. There are so many things about a piece that you don’t realise until you play it”.
Through the concert, Ang plays a range of percussion instruments from the triangle, the Chinese cymbals, bass drum, glockenspiel and flexatone (a metal instrument that makes a “whooshing’ sound). The Brett Dean composition “Vexations and Devotions” is particularly demanding for the percussionists and there are some quick changes required.
Ang is also involved in the teaching day at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre on Monday 29th August where she expects to be working with the student musicians on their school repertoire.
Szabo sums up the event: “Most of us have orchestral experience – but there is no substitute for the opportunity to work with so many talented people”. Undoubtedly, the value of learning by working and performing with professional musicians is beyond measure and, in the life of a musician, is an affirmation of years of teaching and practice.