After a year of zoom lessons and workshops done from the computer room, all of that was forgotten as a group of young composers, and an orchestra of young musicians descended on Trackdown Studios in Sydney’s Moore Park, full of energy and ready to dive into in-person rehearsals and recordings.

6 people standing in a row facing the camera. they are dressed in casual clothes and smiling.
2021 AYO Composition Participants (from left to right) Isabella, Aaron, Ben, Robert and Lewis
2021 AYO Composition tutor (centre-right) Anne Cawrse

The 2021 Composition Program participants gathered in-person for the first time, and marked AYO’s first in-person activity in 305 days (but who’s counting). After moving the program online last year due to the lockdowns, the young composers have been workshopping and developing their pieces over zoom with their tutor, prolific Australian composer, Anne Cawrse,

“The constancy of one environment has been a major challenge,” Participant Robert McIntyre told us last year, amid the lockdown. However, such extreme circumstances seemed to do little to quell the creativity evident in these new pieces. Over the course of two days, each composer will rehearse and record their new works, working with an orchestra of some of the finest young musicians in the country, all supporting one another and feeding into the energy of the studio.

It’s surreal. It’s great to see everyone outside of a zoom setting.” remarked composer Ben Robinson when asked what it means to come together as a cohort for the first time since embarking on this journey.

“Stylistically we’re all quite different,” Robert tells us, “So it’s an exciting opportunity to hear what the others have been working on.”

As we mentioned, this program also marks the first in-person program AYO has run since April of last year. And we could not be more excited about being back working with amazing young musicians and composers.

Joining the AYO Composition students are the winners of Artology’s Fanfare competition. The competition, which runs each year, grants young composers the opportunity to compose and then record a 30-second piece of music. Just another example of the wealth of young musical talent that exists here in Australia.

Leading the musicians through these brand-new pieces is rising star conductor Carlo Antonioli. Carlo was recently appointed as MSO’s 2022 Cybec Assistant Conductor Fellow. Previous to the MSO, Carlo served as the Assistant Conductor for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. When asked about the importance of programs like the AYO Composition program, and Artology’s Fanfare Competition, Carlo had this to say – They’re pivotal. It’s so important for the composers, but also the performers. The composers get the chance to work with young professionals and hear their work played. And the performers get to foster relationships with up-and-coming composers and gain valuable insights into the creative process.”

The excitement in the room during rehearsals at Trackdown is infectious. After so long away from doing what they love, it’s clear by the musician’s excited chatter echoing through the vast recording studio that they’re ready to get stuck into the pieces in front of them. After a year inside it’s easy to forget the simple joy that can come from being in the same room as other artists, collaborating and basking in the atmosphere. And this coming together of young composers paints a bright picture for the state of Australian music to come.