April Strings Report

Another month of great performance opportunities has passed for our talented young string players at NECOM. There have been the usual Studio Concerts and Chamber Ensemble Concert with students performing pieces being prepared for the Armidale Eisteddfod or simply for the opportunity to perform. The AYO annual Garden Party performance on April 8th featured the younger string players of the Armidale Youth String Orchestra under the baton of their director Joanna Fairs-Wu. This 2018 cohort are gearing up to be an outstanding ensemble with the ability to respond well to shaping phrases, produce dynamic contrasts, to play with reliable intonation and strong rhythmic drive. Congratulations on a brilliant performance in the great outdoors!

Musica Viva artist Umberto Clerici (principal cellist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra) gave a well-attended cello masterclass on April 4th to a captivated audience and student participants. His delightful use of imagery to explain technical aspects was inspirational.

Elizabeth Layton, Head of Strings at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, University of Adelaide flew in for a whirlwind visit on April 6th and 7th to give masterclasses to our more senior students and to audition Year 12 violin and cello students for a possible place in the undergraduate performance degree at Elder Conservatorium. To quote Elizbeth Layton: “I was so impressed with the students, they were very responsive and at a level where they could take on new ideas. It was a pleasure working with them.” Twelve of our top students presented for the masterclasses Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Elizabeth showed an extraordinary ability to communicate with young string players at their level of understanding and to hone into exactly what was needed to lift their performance preparation to the next level. We look forward to her coming again for future visits.

Con Brio, the NECOM string ensemble catering for mature aged string players and directed by Joanna Fairs-Wu, presented an evening concert titled “Mood Music” on 10 April. The concert was well attended and it was a wonderful opportunity to showcase repertoire learnt over the last 10 weeks. The program included works by Handel, Grainger and Piazzolla. The ensemble is delighted to now have a double bass player to give that added depth of sound to the ensemble.

For the final rehearsal of the term, the Foundation Music Program string ensembles (Puddledocks and Boorolong Strings) were unexpectedly treated to a fun performance by their respective conductors, Laura Curotta and Robert Jackson, as members of the Bloodwood String Quartet with Laura on viola and Robert on cello. What an inspiration for our young players to hear their teachers perform and then to also interactively play along with them!
NECOM is very excited to have managed to arrange for the Sydney String Centre to set up a special Pop-up Music Store during the Armidale Eisteddfod for Saturday and Sunday, 26th and 27th of May. They will be able to service instruments on the spot and are offering free service of any instrument which was originally purchased from the Sydney String Centre. A TryBooking site will be set up shortly for booking in stringed instruments to be serviced. The Pop-Up shop will have all types of instrument accessories available e.g. chin rests, shoulder rests, rosin, instruments and sheet music. Please make the most of this great initiative.