Lance Bartholomeusz

Tell us a little about your history with the AYO and any fond recollections you may have.

LB: My first AYO experience of was AYO National Music Camp in Adelaide in 1986. I performed as part of the Bishop Orchestra under the direction of the esteemed John Hopkins. It was such a thrill as a 17 year-old to perform alongside such superb musicians as Belinda MacFarlane, Ben and Tobias Lea to name a few. We performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No 11 – I instantly fell in love with classical music and the AYO. One of my fondest musical memories was being Principal Double Bass of the Australian Youth Orchestra under the direction of the great Christoph Eschenbach for the 1988 AYO International Tour. I remember our first day rehearsing Stravinsky’s The Firebird with him. As double bass players we tend to plug along in the background as we are not as virtuosic as the first violins. However Maestro Eschenbach paid us equal attention when we performed, and he definitely allowed us no concessions in expectation despite being a youth orchestra. To this date, he is the best conductor I have ever worked with.

It would be great to hear about your family background and what triggered your interest in music.

LB: I grew up in somewhat of a musical family. My father played double bass in a jazz quartet, my mother sang, my sister is a guitar singer and one of my brothers is a top-flight international bagpipe player and composer. We grew up surrounded by music and were encouraged to perform. I came to music quite late when I was in secondary school. One day I decided to pick up my dad’s double bass and I haven’t looked back. To this date, I still perform in amateur orchestras. I now have a 5-month old son, Luc, and I play to him most days – he’s very fond of the scales.

From classical music how did you end up working for the UN?

LB: I am a trained international lawyer and I began working for the UN in around 2000. I spent my first three years in Geneva and I have spent the following years in Israel where I work with Palestinian refugees. It’s a brilliant and interesting role that I love. I divide most of my time travelling between Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza and I take my double bass with me as much as I can. I find that music breaks down many barriers and is a good anecdote; the UN may not be popular with everyone however double bass players always are!

How do you use the AYO and/or AYO National Music Camp experience in your working life?

LB: I find I use my AYO experience everyday day in my working professional life. In most roles people need to work well as team players but also independently. And playing in an orchestra is a lot like working for the UN. You work with people of differing backgrounds, styles and qualities. Being a team player you need to ensure you are constantly referring to your concertmaster or section leader, listening, trying to fit in and keeping good rhythm. Leading any section of the orchestra is like being the leader of any team or organisation and you can’t lead a section without working harder than everyone else and leading by example.