Playing in the orchestra for Broadway musical Camelot – starring Richard Burton and Julie Andrews – increased flautist John Wion’s literary consumption: ‘I memorised the score, so I would put a book on my music stand in front of the sheet music. In between playing, I read War and Peace and other classic novels.’ John’s amazing performance and teaching career from 1956-2007 included the New York City Ballet, New York City Opera (where Turandot once crashed through the scenery during a dress rehearsal), and founding member of Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony. John’s love for orchestral playing began with AYO’s 1952 AYO National Music Camp: ‘I waited for the downbeat from conductor John Bishop. Suddenly life opened for me; this beautiful sound – all-encompassing, vibrating. No other experience in my life has been like it.’
Associate Professor Janice Stockigt
As a musicologist who’s always been keenly interested in history, oboist Janice Stockigt made a rather exciting discovery in 2005; her research unearthed an unknown Vivaldi work, Dixit Dominus on Psalm 109, that had been incorrectly attributed to composer Baldassare Galuppi, ‘As a chamber player, I recognised a harmonic progression in a source manuscript as belonging to Vivaldi. I was privileged to attend the magnificent inaugural performance of the work.’ Amongst other achievements, Janice has published an award-winning book about Czech baroque composer Jan Dimas Zelenka and, in retirement, finds time to research and supervise PhD students. Particularly inspired by director Dr Percy Jones, Janice believes AYO National Music Camp (which she attended from 1958-67) was ‘hugely important in bringing together musicians from around Australia, many of whom would go on to be recognised internationally’.
Ever yearned to hear a string-quartet version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’? Violist and teacher Nara Dennis – founder of hugely popular Tasmanian quartet ‘Strings on Fire’ – has a lot of fun arranging classic and contemporary music including jazz, heavy metal, and rock. ‘When the quartet started 15 years ago there weren’t many good arrangements out there, so I wrote them myself. Viola players don’t always get the best parts, so I give myself exciting solos.’ Nara’s partner is TSO percussionist Gary Wain and their sons Monty and Vivian, also AYO Alumni, busk on double bass and bassoon as The Growlers. Nara’s teaching approach? ‘I aim to give students confidence and good technique”. How did AYO (1980-1983) influence Nara’s career? ‘Playing Schoenberg instilled in me a love of twentieth century music.’
Passionate oboe player and AYO National Music Camp tutor Stephen Robinson describes the experience of playing in an orchestra as ‘beauty coming out of a whole lot of people making noise’. Highlights of Stephen’s rewarding, 29-year career with Orchestra Victoria include approximately 50 performances of Swan Lake (‘Tchaikovsky’s Oboe Concerto’), Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle and the recent Carmen (‘where it was fascinating to see horses take a bow on stage’). Best thing about tutoring for AYO? ‘We can pass on our industry-acquired orchestral knowledge that just isn’t available to students in other less-intensive programs.’ Tips for young musicians? ‘When someone tells you to jump, the best solution isn’t always to jump as high as you can. E.g., if a note is sharp, don’t try to make it really flat, relax and make it less sharp.’