May Strings Report

Being situated halfway between Brisbane and Sydney NECOM students are in the enviable position of having access two of the best conservatoriums and their leading teachers when, every couple of years, NECOM taps into this wonderful resource and hosts master classes and lessons provided by teachers from both institutions. This initiative provides a direct link for those students who wish to pursue tertiary qualifications and a career in performance music later on.  It also gives the NECOM teachers a chance to get feedback on students’ progress and technical advice.

The second weekend of Term 2 saw a welcome visit from Michelle Walsh, Head of Strings ( violin and viola) and Meta Weiss (cello) from the Queensland’ Conservatorium of  Music, Griffith University. Michelle and Meta gave master classes and individual lessons to our scholarship students and few other keen students who are preparing for AMEB exams and  HSC performance assessments. Meta and Michelle were both very impressed with the standard of students they had to work with. Michelle focused on the postural elements of playing the violin/viola and how correct posture allows for freedom of physical movement. The flow on from this is the technical freedom to be able to fully express the composer’s intentions.

The string teaching staff at NECOM were also given valuable pedagogic guidance regarding appropriate repertoire and technical sequencing for aspiring string players.

To quote our cello teacher Robert Jackson  “Meta Weiss was very helpful in consolidating and reinforcing technical aspects of playing and inspired Armidale's students with her imaginative explanations of phrasing and music making. Since her visit, many students are showing dedication to their instrument and achievement in their performance. Meta is such a great asset to have for Cello playing Australia and we would be thrilled to welcome her back again in the future.”

The Armidale Symphony Orchestra concert on May 14th was a collaborative event with NECOM  string staff very much involved; Robert Jackson as the conductor, Joanna Fairs-Wu
concertmaster, Laura Curotta leader 2nd violins, Louisa Sindell- Marshall and Paul Marshell boosting up the woodwind section.  One of the pieces performed was by Paul Marshall himself!

Armidale concert goers were treated to a delightful chamber music concert the very next evening at NECOM. Robert Jackson and Laura Curotta collaborated with the Nano Symphony to present a program which included the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. 

The String Section of the Armidale Eistedfodd has just concluded with a marathon five-day event. The quality and number of solo performances at all levels, presented by NECOM students, was outstanding.  Robert Harris, the adjudicator, was so impressed with the level of playing and commented on the lovely camaraderie amongst all the competing students. The NECOM string teachers have a close involvement in government and private schools in directing school ensembles and chamber groups as conductors and tutors.

The ensembles they presented for the Eisteddfod showed a  great choice of repertoire covering classical to pop. NECOM’s Chamber Ensemble program under the direction of April Kelson also presented many fine group performances. 

Robert Harris finished off his stint in Armidale with a Viola Café session. Laura Curotta and Robert  Harris led a bevvy of 12 viola players in a great sight reading session. 

Government Associates