AYO Blog

Rhythm and Rhapsody: Seeking Unity on NMC Day 1
By Tahlia Williams

A large group of young people sit on a grassy field.
A group of young musicians arrive at St Marks College while pulling their luggage.

It’s Monday and the Elder Conservatorium is welcoming a throng of students onto campus for the first day of National Music Camp 2024. Many have just arrived from all around Australia, others from tours and holidays overseas. A common desire to make music together breaks through the facade of first-day nerves – the very desire which has drawn each of us to Kaurna land for a swirl of rehearsals, seminars, workshops and fellowship. In his Welcome to Country Uncle Rod warns us to watch out for the big red kangaroo!

Everyone comes closer to the heartbeat of NMC with the first night of rehearsals.

The musicians heads off to their respective orchestras and finds their place in the musical organism. You can see the nervous energy as each orchestra engages with their repertoire for the first time and their unique personalities quickly begin to emerge. This assortment of musicians from around the country – friends and soon-to-be-friends alike – are suddenly united towards a common goal.

The Brislan Chamber Orchestra – named for horn player and AYO champion Patrick Brislan – soon begins to develop its sound and cohesion under Sophie Rowell’s direction. The ensemble’s readiness to respond to Sophie’s gestures is apparent in the first reading of Suk’s Serenade for Strings, and the raw, penetrating sound of the strings shows potential to be refined into power and gold.

Meanwhile, the Bishop Orchestra feeds off the close, steamy atmosphere of the Madley Rehearsal Studio as it powers through Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, gasping for a breath of Beethoven’s fresh pastoral air. Each player marks their role in the lively musical dialogue; the antiphonal seating of the first and second violins beckons the musicians to throw their ideas across the orchestra. Every single player enters the conversation.

On the other side of campus, the larger Alexander Orchestra is discovering the rhythm and sashay of Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No.1, urged along by Ariel Zuckermann’s charisma. The orchestra’s almost chaotic energy indicates a performance on Saturday which will surely have us sashaying in our seats.

With the first rehearsals complete, the coming days will settle into a productive hum of tutorials and in-depth rehearsals, during which time the NMC community will continue to unite in finding its rhythm and rhapsody.