It is a rare occurrence when a regional arts organisation is able to celebrate its 50th Birthday and show no signs of slowing down. By comparison, the Newcastle and Wollongong Youth Orchestras recently turned 7 and 32 respectively. The Armidale Youth Orchestra is only two years younger than the Melbourne and QLD Youth Orchestras! The success and longevity of this outstanding group is further testament to the esteem with which the Arts are held throughout this region.
The 50th Birthday Concert at Lazenby Hall, UNE on Sunday 19 August was attended by hundreds of music lovers, including past members and conductors. The two longest-serving conductors were Warwick Dunham (eight years) and Laurie Pulley (25 years) who received special gifts along with other past teachers and conductors.
The growth of the Armidale Youth Orchestras has meant that the 100 students now perform across five ensembles – the Youth Wind Ensemble, the Symphonic Winds, the Youth String Orchestra, the AYO Sinfonia and, of course, the 50-piece Armidale Youth Orchestra.
One of many highlights of the afternoon was the premier of Paul Marshall’s commissioned work, Where the Mountains Kiss the Sky, a beautiful tone poem describing the stunning New England landscapes, conducted by the composer. The concert concluded with the rousing finale from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. NECOM CEO and AYO Conductor, Mr Bauer, said that he has really enjoyed conducting the AYO in 2018 and looks forward to learning the New England Sings! repertoire in time for the biennial concert on 20 and 21 October. “I’m also very excited about having the chance to conduct AYO again in Term Three next year when the students will combine with some of the members of the Armidale Symphony Orchestra for a huge concert event on Friday 11 October 2019”, Mr Bauer said.