Violist Katie Yap first joined the Australian Youth Orchestra in 2010 for the International Tour to China, under the baton of Sir Mark Elder. With participation in a number of AYO programs, from AYO National Music Camp to AYO Chamber Players and orchestra programs across the country, Katie has experienced the AYO career pathway and everything it has to offer. Among her many achievements, Katie joined the Australian World Orchestra this year. We caught Katie between recitals to ask her about her experiences as an AYO musician.
How old were you when you did your first AYO program?
I was nineteen, a bit of a late bloomer in terms of most people’s AYO timelines. I didn’t even know about AYO until I got to university, and I vividly remember my first program, which was the 2010 AYO National Music Camp. I was put into the Chamber Orchestra, directed by Howard Penny. Our main repertoire remains some of my favourite chamber orchestra music – the Suk Serenade for Strings and the Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. I was scared still coming into the first rehearsal, but that quickly eased as I got to know people who would become firm friends and threw myself into the music along with the rest of the orchestra.
What has been your most memorable AYO experience thus far?
That’s a tough question! I think it would have to be a toss-up between sitting in a pitch black pit trying not to cry as Anthony Dean Griffey sang Peter Grimes’ monologue in 2010 AYO February Season or playing Symphony No.10 by Shostakovich at the BBC Proms during the International Tour the same year.
How has participating in AYO programs shaped your approach to music making over the years?
Among other things, it has made me so much more open-minded. I went into the AYO baroque Style Workshop with Libby Wallfisch and Neal Peres Da Costa comprising entirely of Vivaldi violin concertos thinking ‘Oh well, I suppose it’ll be nice to hear all the violins play their concerti’ and came out knowing that no matter how unimportant your line might look, there’s so much possibility for direction, shaping, beauty, and character.
What role has AYO played in preparing you for a career as a professional musician?
I think there are two really important things I’ve learnt through AYO. One is the feeling of playing with an orchestra in which everyone is incredibly passionate. There is absolutely nothing like it – to have 100 people not saying anything, maybe not even looking at each other, but experiencing and creating music in such a committed, all-consuming way is impossible to articulate. I suppose that’s why we play instead! The other is to keep diversity in one’s career. The fact that Ayo is not just an orchestra, but also an organisation that offers many programs – specifically those that include chamber music – is really crucial to me. By cultivating the love of many forms of music-making, we’re better equipped as musicians to be inventive, open minded, and able to explore music, rather than just taking whatever we’re given.