Australian Youth Orchestra July Season 2015: Blog 4
By Oliver Shermacher
It has been two days since the Australian Youth Orchestra’s concert at the Opera House, and I’m having what has affectionately been coined as ‘AYO withdrawls’. My pain is deep and true, longing for the days gone by. The past few weeks seem like a fleeting torrent of rehearsals, practice, city dwelling and least (most) importantly, social gatherings (parties). Now that I’m back in Sydney, resuming life’s cyclical agenda, I can’t help but look back over the previous two weeks at AYO and feel bittersweet nostalgia. To process and summarise the whole experience in one petite blog post is very difficult, but I will provide what were my highlights, and hopefully that will begin to paint the picture of how unique and valuable the experience of AYO is to young musicians.
From the very first rehearsal, Sir Mark Elder led the orchestra with an amiable dominance. His stories and musical insights kept the orchestra’s eyes and ears wide open, knowing that if your attention dwindled for even a moment, you would miss some crucial information or a bitingly witty joke. Even more impressive than his command of the orchestra and approachable nature, Sir Mark Elder managed to learn the names of everyone in the orchestra, which I think is an incredibly underrated tool for conductors to gain the trust of an ensemble. All in all, he was the perfect match to AYO -he approached us as professionals, and in turn, made us play like them.
While the AYO prioritises musical development, the social aspect of AYO holds just as much allure to me as the music making. When you put 111 young musicians in a room together for two weeks, you are bound to make some friends along the way. But these aren’t just any ordinary friends. The teamwork and collaboration within the orchestra incites such a strong camaraderie between its members, and creates friendships that are sure to last a lifetime.
That’s why my AYO withdrawals are so potent – all of these amazing new friendships that I have made will change drastically as everyone scatters back to their home states. However, I have an optimistic view on this. I know that distance will not undo these amazing friendships, and that I will see them in the next AYO season, or a professional orchestra in 10 years, or even returning as tutors to the next generation of young musicians in the Australian Youth Orchestra. I feel as though I have matured and advanced myself to a place greater than I could have imagined, and I owe all of that to AYO.