Each year, musicians can apply to AYO Chamber Players as an individual instrumentalist, or on behalf of an established ensemble. This year there are three established ensembles taking place in the program, based across Queensland and Victoria.

We sat down with these ensembles to learn more about how they formed, their favourite kind of repertoire, and what they are most looking forward to about the AYO Chamber Players program which kicks off next week!

AMITI QUARTET

Follow Amiti Quartet on Instagram here 

A string quartet pose with their instruments in front of a colourful wall mural. They are all smiling and looking directly at the camera.
Amiti Quartet. Credit: Pete Walllis.

How did the quartet form as an ensemble?

Amiti Quartet formed at the beginning of 2021 while all members were students at the UQ School of Music. This was at the recommendation of Adam Chalabi, the head of violin and performance studies at UQ. The goal of the quartet was for us to develop our chamber music skills by attending the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s Winterschool Program in Townsville and to continue to build upon this in our chamber music studies at UQ.

Following a year of uncertainty and online coursework, we felt very lucky to have been approached by Adam to participate in these chamber music opportunities as we had not been able to develop the skills that chamber music requires during online learning. The quartet has since had resounding success as a group, with highlights including performances alongside William Barton as a part of the UQ Lunchtime Concert Series, and returning to Townsville as the as the AFCM’s Winterschool Outreach Ensemble earlier this year.

What is the story behind the name?

As with any music group, the quartet needed a name! After some brainstorming, our cellist Erna came up with the name ‘Amiti’ which means friendship in Latin. While the name felt right instantly, we feel the name reflects the time we have spent together as a group. Not only has Amiti allowed us to craft our skills as chamber music musicians, but it has also allowed us to become better friends.

What repertoire do you particularly enjoy/ want to focus on as a group?

Over the course of our time together as a quartet, we have studied a wide variety of repertoire with each piece presenting its own joys and challenges. In the early stages of working together we focused primarily on classical quartet repertoire from composers such as Haydn and Beethoven. This allowed us to gain better understanding of how the group worked together and how to effectively rehearse string quartet repertoire. Consequently, this repertoire holds a special place in our quartet journey.

Once this understanding was gained, we were able to move through repertoire more efficiently and began focusing more on late 19th and early 20th century works such as Shostakovich Quartet No.7 and the Ravel Quartet. We have had such fun studying both these works as their sound worlds required us to search for more extreme musical colours and further our listening abilities.

What are you most excited about for AYO Chamber Players 2022?

We are excited to participate in AYO Chamber Players 2022 for so many reasons! As individuals, we have all participated in other programs offered by AYO, but these have all had more focus on orchestral playing. The immersion in music-making that AYO offers creates such an inspiring environment for young musicians, as being surrounded by like-minded peers and supportive professionals creates intensity that is rarely found at this stage of our careers. Amiti Quartet are excited to work this way in a chamber music setting and we can’t wait to experience the musical outcomes that will come from this.

We are also looking forward to learning new quartet repertoire, especially Balderdash by Holly Harrison. As a quartet of four women, we are excited to perform the music of such a renowned Australian composer like Holly, and from what we’ve seen in the score, it’s going to be epic! We know that what we learn during this program will assist us in the years ahead as we continue grow into professional musicians and can’t wait for the program to begin.

GOLDEN GATE BRASS

Follow Golden Gate Brass on Instagram here

Five young men dressed in black suits smile at the camera. They are standing in front of a grey-white background and are each holding a brass instrument.
Golden Gate Brass

How did the quintet form as an ensemble?

We formed Golden Gate Brass at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) while all five original members were studying there in 2017. We had all worked together previously, with four of five members having studied together in Perth, so we were really interested in creating a high quality group to perform chamber music together.

What is the story behind the name?

The official story is that we came up with the name while we were working on a piece called Street Song by Michael Tilson Thomas, which was the major work performed as a quintet. The connection was simple:

Michael Tilson Thomas… San Francisco… Golden Gate Bridge… Golden Gate Brass.

We then celebrated our newly acquired name at our favourite establishment, the Golden Gate Hotel.

What repertoire do you particularly enjoy/want to focus on as a group?

Golden Gate Brass is passionate about commissioning new works and arrangements by Australian composers. We like expanding the repertoire, as we don’t have as extensive a library as an ensemble such as the string quartet or piano trio. We try to perform these whenever we can. 

We have performed a wide variety of repertoire, ranging from the core brass quintet repertoire to early music, modern works and arrangements of music for other ensembles (or even other genres!). We’ve enjoyed them all, so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

What are you most excited about for AYO Chamber Players 2022?

We are really looking forward to having time to workshop new pieces and further develop our sound and concepts as an ensemble. Having such an esteemed brass player and pedagogue as Peter Luff guide us through this process will be so helpful, which we are really excited about. 

MERRYVALE TRIO

Follow Merryvale Trio on Instagram here

Merryvale Trio - Three young people stand in a line and smile at the camera. They are wearing concert black attire.
The Merryvale Trio

How did the trio form as an ensemble?

We all knew of each other before we officially met at the Queensland Conservatorium. Samuel and I (Chae Eun) had already planned to be in a piano trio, and we just needed to find a cellist. Luckily, when we were hunting for a cellist, that was when we met Ho-se and decided to form Merryvale Trio.

What is the story behind the name?

We had many changes to our ensemble name. It started off as Happy Hippos Trio then to Calmante Trio and then Merryvale Trio. The first two names were made up by us but we wanted to think of a more professional ensemble name, so we asked Michele Walsh for some ideas. She told us that when she was in a string quartet, they created their ensemble name from a member’s street name.  Out of the three of us, Ho-se had the best sounding street name so we came to the decision of Merryvale Trio.

What repertoire do you particularly enjoy/ want to focus on as a group?

We enjoy playing Classical and Romantic pieces, but we would lean more towards Romantic pieces.

What are you most excited about for AYO Chamber Players 2022?

We are very excited to work with professional mentors and to perform for many other musicians and audiences.