Beginning his association with the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) as a National Music Camp (NMC) participant on French horn in 2005, Francesco Lo Surdo provides a perfect example of the character and talent of our young musicians. Now a member of the horn section of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and an inspiring teacher, Francesco returned as a tutor to the newest generation of AYO musicians at the 2014 NMC as living proof that the seemingly elusive orchestral position and fulfilling career as a musician are truly achievable goals.
What are your most vivid memories of National Music Camp?
My first NMC was just before beginning university at the end of year 12 and I instantly caught the bug. Having the chance to meet and work with people like Peter Luff and one of Australia’s best french horn players, Barry Tuckwell, was so inspirational. It kick-started everything and made me realise that this is what I want to do.
What do you think NMC offers young musicians?
It is amazing how at the beginning of each of the two weeks the orchestra sounds like a youth orchestra, yet always by the end of the week the orchestra sounds professional. There is nothing else like it to give students such an incredible first experience of a professional standard of playing.
Did NMC prepare you well for being a tutor?
Yes, definitely. My recent participation in the program gave me an insight into how it all runs and how hectic it is for the musicians.
What do you enjoy most about tutoring?
If I am able to pass on even ten percent of what was passed on to me, I am happy. It was also an honour to have the opportunity to play in the tutor chamber music concerts alongside the likes of Richard Gill.
What advice would you give to young musicians starting out?
At my first brass sectional I gave some advice to the musicians which, while potentially confronting, I wish I had been told at my first camp; this was that their career had already begun.
What are you up to next?
I have been in WASO for two years now and I plan to stay and continue to learn from the job and the people around me alongside enjoying passing on my knowledge to the next generations through teaching.