The last week of term heralded a new venture with a huge Showcase Concert of Armidale Youth Orchestra and NECOM Ensembles with special guests, Rose Bay Secondary College (RBSC), who were in the midst of a tour of the New England. NECOM, AYO and RBSC ensembles took to the stage for a packed and appreciative audience.
The concert began with the combined forces of the Armidale Youth Orchestra string players with the Armidale Youth String Orchestra and RBSC strings under the baton of Joanna Fairs-Wu, our Head of Strings. A rousing performance was given of Incantations by Richard Meyer, followed by Celtic Dreaming by Stephen Chin. Rose Bay Secondary College's string players were thrilled to join in. Some had never performed in a string orchestra of this size before, so it was a great experience for them. Jason from RBSC said; “It was great to perform with a large ensemble, a totally new experience for me, one I hadn’t had before. The sound was totally different to playing with a small string group. It was the highlight of the tour for me".
For our two younger groups, Boorolong Strings and Tilbuster Winds, the benefit of performing in a concert such as this one, is the opportunity to expose the students to the ensembles they will eventually move into as they progress in their musicianship. The NECOM primary aged string group, Boorolong Strings, directed by April Kelson, performed a delightful arrangement of Ah, Poor Bird, with singing and improvised bird calls woven into the arrangement. This was followed by Ghost Ship and Sailor's Dance by Stephen Chin. The stage was then cleared for the Tilbuster Winds to perform Breakout by James Rae, with conductor Paul Marshall.
Three ensembles from Rose Bay Secondary College then performed for the audience including their Senior Concert Band, String Ensemble and Senior Stage Band who then came together for a huge combined performance with Armidale Youth Symphonic Winds. Despite only having 45 minutes to rehearse together, March of the Olympians by Tommy Walker and Dancing Snakes by Neil Simon both sounded incredibly polished and impressive.
Murray Jackson, Rose Bay Secondary College's musical director shared his insights:
"From the earliest planning stages of the tour Susanne and the other staff at the NECOM had been incredibly generous with their time and assistance. Susanne pretty much organised our whole itinerary and her local knowledge was invaluable to us. I was delighted that we were able to combine with the two Necom groups, it was such a valuable experience for our students to share their music-making with the wonderful students at the con. From my point of view, It was also fantastic for the Rose Bay groups to have the experience of playing in a great acoustic environment with a focused and attentive audience."
“The Conservatorium of music was a really awesome experience for us, not only because of performing and rehearsing with the other [ensembles], but because of all the people we met from around the area. It was really awesome to meet new people and see what music ensembles are like outside of Sydney” Sophia, Year 8
“The Conservatorium performance was very enjoyable. It was interesting to see the different set-up to the Sydney Conservatorium. It was great rehearsing with the other [ensemble] and I had a great time checking out the pianos, the other musicians and the strings.” Ravi, Year 11
Check out some of the combined performances below: