AYO Blog

Australian Youth Orchestra July Season 2015: Blog 1
By Molly Collier-O’Boyle

The Australia Youth Orchestra rehearses at Drill Hall in Melbourne.

July Season rehearsals are off to an incredible start, with our musicians rehearsing under the baton of Sir Mark Elder. The ensemble has been rehearsing at Melbourne’s Drill Hall before their concerts at Melbourne’s famed Hamer Hall and the Sydney Opera House next week. Our musicians have come from all over Australia to prepare an exceptional repertoire for the shows. Talented violinist Molly Collier-O’Boyle gives us a taste of AYO’s adventures in Melbourne.

The air was full of anticipation and frost as the 2015 July season musicians of the Australian Youth Orchestra were first introduced to the prestigious conductor of the program, Sir Mark Elder. There is a certain kind of indescribable feeling when first meeting and playing under a conductor of such status, as I’m sure my colleagues have felt before in previous seasons. It is also incredibly exciting to be able to participate in AYO’s programs in different parts of Australia and to really get to know each city. As a born and bred Queenslander, I am not accustomed to that of a bitterly cold Melbournian winter. Rehearsals in the Drill Hall, next to the famed Queen Victoria Markets, have proven to be something of a challenge to see how many layers I can wear without it affecting how I play my instrument!

The program has seen Sir Mark wanting to work more closely with the orchestra in sectionals. As the orchestra have a lot more time to prepare for the upcoming concerts in Hamer Hall and the Sydney Opera House than a professional orchestra would normally have, it gives us the freedom to be able to work closely on the finer details that I’m sure will help make our performances spectacular. There is much more time in rehearsals as a string section to be able to focus on colour, articulations, and bowings that really speak true to the music and the composers’ original intent. Furthermore, there is more time to take care with certain monumental musical moments, and it helps every bit that Sir Mark gives an amazing historic description of the composer’s intent in certain passages of the music. The rehearsals have definitely been fast-paced and meticulous, mixed with hilarity from Sir Mark’s witticisms and personal charm.

From the first rehearsal to the tutorials and sectionals, every AYO musician (there’s over 100 of them!) has worked diligently. It is not surprising that when the orchestra were reunited in tutti rehearsals that the ensemble was able to connect with each other more easily. The repertoire contrasts greatly so it is hard to unite as a whole effectively, with there being a tremendous difference between the effervescence of the French style in La mer, and Mahler’s very folk-based and contrapuntal music.

I find each AYO program I have participated in is a very unique experience due to the variations in repertoire, members, tutors and conductors. Each program consistently has a very diverse and special atmospheres and outcomes, which ultimately demonstrate, and reflect, what the professional field of music is like. Music is never played the same twice, no matter if all details in the music have been copied exactly. It’s all about individual sound, opinion and how it affects the ensemble’s united sound.