Benedict and Tobias Lea

This past week at Akoesticum we’ve had intensive rehearsals under the tutelage of some of the world’s best professional musicians. Many of these musicians themselves started their musical journey with AYO, so it’s a unique privilege to now be able to learn from them.

Two such alumni are twin brothers Benedict and Tobias Lea. Better known as Ben and Toby they together make up the only two Australians currently in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; not to mention the only twins in the Orchestra’s 150-year history.

Originally from Adelaide, they are both now based in Vienna playing violin and principal viola respectively. Both have spent the past week guiding and shaping our AYO second violins and violas in preparation for back-to-back concerts across Europe, China and Australia.

‘The kids can really play,’ observed Ben. ‘It’s very clear that they know how it’s supposed to go, as far as the notes are concerned’. Ben and Toby’s aim then was to impart crucial insight into how the pieces are performed stylistically, which comes from almost 30 years of experience playing in such a high level orchestra.

The Vienna Philharmonic is of an extremely high standard and one of the finest orchestras in the world, with the audition process famously ‘cutthroat’. ‘So we’re very lucky to work with that group,’ said Toby.

‘I think one of the reasons we got jobs in that orchestra,’ Ben pointed out, ‘is the phenomenal training we got from AYO. I think the opportunities that were offered to us between the ages of 16 and 20 expanded our abilities to play in an orchestra; to play together with other people. It helped our sight-reading skills enormously, and that was a major bonus for us when we started working with the Vienna Phil.’

When invited to spend their summer break tutoring the AYO the brothers were thrilled, ‘it’s our first opportunity to come back and actually give back something to the AYO,’ said Toby.

‘AYO has always been a fantastic training ground for young musicians in Australia since its inception many, many decades ago’ Toby continued, ‘and when I was asked to come, I was absolutely sure that that would still be the case, and I have not been in the least bit disappointed.’

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