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31 July 2007

Australian Youth Orchestra Home takes grown talent to the world

Australian Youth Orchestra Home takes grown talent to the world

Whether it’s the young musicians on stage, or the music brought to life from their stands, the Australian Youth Orchestra’s European tour will be an eight-concert showcase of the finest and freshest musical talent Australia has to offer.

‘You can’t but be inspired and transformed by the touring experience’, says AYO Chief Executive Officer Colin Cornish, who played violin in the orchestra’s 1988 European Tour. And his comments ring true not only for the 93 young touring virtuosi, but also of the works they’ll be performing and premiering.

In an extension of the already strong reputation Australian Youth Orchestra has built for nurturing and developing young Australian composers, each international tour by the orchestra includes the premiere of an outstanding Australian composition. On the 2007 50th Anniversary European Tour it is James Ledger’s award-winning Habits of Creatures.

‘We were keen to tour with a work by an established young Australian composer and explored a variety of different compositions when considering what to program with the other repertoire selected for the tour’, says AYO’s Artistic Administrator, Bronwyn Lobb.

‘We decided to go ahead with Habits of Creatures by James Ledger because we feel it is a strong composition and that James is representative of young Australian composers of this time’, she says.

Habits of Creatures is, for me, a very abstract and introspective piece. A large majority of it is quiet and still, being mostly scored for small forces within the orchestra. However, there are times when these moments are contrasted with climaxes of sheer orchestral thunder’, says James.

‘The title for this piece evolved from a conversation with my wife. When reminiscing over our dog (who was a real creature of habit, so much so you could set your watch by his four-o’clock bark for a walk), she inadvertently described him as a ‘habit of creature’. I immediately thought that this phrase with all its connotations would make an intriguing starting point for a piece of music’.

Ledger’s Habits of Creatures received its European premiere on 20 July, when the Australian Youth Orchestra performed its first concert for the tour in Paris. It was a fitting location for the occasion too, since the Australian Youth Orchestra was the first Australian orchestra to perform in Paris over twenty years ago, in 1984.

For the 93 young musicians from across Australia, aged between 14 and 25, who are performing as the 50th Anniversary cohort of the Australian Youth Orchestra, this tour is filled with many more ‘firsts’. For some it is their first journey overseas, for some their first time as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and for many their first opportunity to perform in some of the world’s finest concert hall stages, including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Berlin’s Konzerthaus.

Before these young musicians took to the global stage, they presented a 50th Anniversary pre-tour performance at the Sydney Opera House on 15 July, the perfect launching pad for such an historic occasion. ‘We have come such a long way over the last 50 years – and, given the constantly increasing standard of applicants for our programs, it is simply incredible to think of what the future holds for this organisation and young musicians that come through our programs’, says Colin. ‘It’s going to be a great next fifty years’.

Further links

Having briefly toyed with the idea of a career as a professional musician, Joy Leaper decided to step across to the other side of the arts, and is now Communications Coordinator for Australian Youth Orchestra. Originally Communications Coordinator for an aged care company in Melbourne, she now lives in Sydney.


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