Every year the Armidale Youth Orchestra ensembles and families travel to Sawtell Beach in late February for our Annual Music Camp weekend! This is a wonderful weekend of music making, and is an essential component of AYO’s program for the year. Students spend the weekend rehearsing, often with a guest conductor, but there is always time for beach, fun and games. It is an important start to the year, where players can really get to know the repertoire and have specific sessions with specialised instrumental tutors.
The weekend culminates in a concert at midday on Sunday, which is open to the general public. This year there was a special surprise for the musicians! Upon arriving for rehearsal on Sunday morning they were told that there would be a special combined performance of AYO, AYSO and AYWE playing music they had never seen before. The musicians all stepped up and the performance was fantastic! The audience was very surprised to learn that the combined ensembles had first seen the music just that morning!
On Saturday evening the traditional family BBQ was held, and luckily there was no rain this year! The BBQ is a great opportunity for a general catch-up and for the parents to get to know each other, the conductors and tutors, and to welcome families that new to the AYO.
This Annual Music Camp started about 20 years ago at Valla Beach, under the direction of Mal Hewitt. For the past few years, the guest conductor has been Ben Castle, a string specialist who is Head of Strings at Melbourne Grammar School. We always enjoy having Ben Castle as our guest conductor, and luckily he has agreed to return next year! This year we also welcomed guest tutor Amberley Bremner. Amberley conducts the Melbourne Youth Strings and is a member of the Music Department at Scotch College, Melbourne.
AYO Committee Chair