End of Year Strings Report 2019

Term 4 has flown by with community concerts, music camps, concerts, visiting artists and masterclasses for all ages of string players.
Our wonderful adult string orchestra, Con Brio, began the terms activities with a most welcome performance for residents at the McMaugh Aged Care Home in Uralla. In Week 3, Musica Viva presented the best up-and-coming national string talent, showcased in an energetic and virtuosic performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra Collective led by the wonderful Helena Rathbone. The following morning a few members of this ensemble facilitated a string orchestra workshop for New England Conservatorium students and other affiliated students, finished off with a very accomplished performance for parents.
That same week, nine New England Conservatorium students attended a five-day NSW Regional Youth Orchestra music camp held in Tamworth in conjunction with Artscape Festival dedicated to promoting NSW regional arts. Our Head of Strings, Joanna Fairs-Wu, attended as upper strings tutor and was most impressed with the great opportunity this orchestra affords for our talented regional musicians who might otherwise never get the chance to experience playing some of the great symphonic works. The social interaction also allows for wonderful lifelong friendships to evolve.
Week 5 brought us to a forward rehearsal for the annual Errol Russel Sinfonia of New England with the concert now a regular calendar event on the last Sunday of the Term 4. This year, Brisbane-based guest conductor Gwyn Roberts conducted the orchestra comprised of some of our highest achieving young students, alumni, staff and community players led by Joanna Fairs-Wu.
On Tuesday of Week 6, Armidale Youth String Orchestra, directed by Joanna Fairs-Wu, boarded the bus for their annual day trip, this year performing for primary students at Ben Lomond and Black Mountain Public Schools, both rapturous audiences. We were delighted to have Quart-Ed accompany us on this day tour. Quart Ed are four Sydney Conservatorium Students who have come up with a very innovative string quartet program to present in schools. That same evening the NECOM Ensembles Christmas Concert featured our younger developing string players in the Puddledocks Strings (director Laura Curotta) and Boorolong Strings (director April Kelson). Both ensembles presented outstanding performances. On Saturday the New England Ensemble gave masterclasses for some of our older students prior to their Musica Viva Concert the following day. For our teachers sitting-in, these masterclasses offered us an excellent professional development opportunity in witnessing different styles of teaching and gaining new insights regarding ways to teach repertoire and technique.
Along with all the conservatorium activities, our staff have been heavily involved in many end-of-year school concerts, award ceremonies, carol services and studio concerts.
A big thank you to all the conservatorium string teachers Robert, Laura, Jhana, April and Arlene for their dedication and hard work with their teaching throughout the year. A warm welcome to Sarah Adeney (violin/viola) who will be taking on some of Laura’s students in Term 1, 2020, while Laura is on maternity leave.
All the best to recently graduated HSC students Elinor Warwick (violin) and Sophia Mackson (viola), and tertiary student Caitlin Annesley (viola) who have all been accepted entry into Performance Degrees at major universities starting next year.