In November, we celebrated Patrick Brislan’s extraordinary commitment to the AYO. It is our great pleasure to acknowledge Patrick’s dedication to helping young musicians through the awarding of an Honorary Life Membership.
Patrick’s association with the AYO began 60 years ago when he attended his first National Music Camp. “A group of about 12 of us set off from Central Station in Sydney for the Geelong Music Camp, and at the end of the two weeks, like many others since, I felt my whole life had been permanently changed.” The scene was set for a long career in music – as a performer, teacher, administrator and mentor – and the life-long gratitude, affection and respect for the National Music Camp Association and later, AYO, have always been there.
Early in his musical career, Patrick was the principal horn in the first Australian Youth Orchestra, which came together in 1957. A talented student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he studied under Alan Mann. His career took him around Australia and saw him play with the Tasmanian, Queensland, West Australian, Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. In 1970, Patrick joined the staff as lecturer in music at the Elder Conservatorium and was invited to become a member of the University of Adelaide Wind Quintet. The Quintet established an international reputation and toured 15 countries, presenting numerous concerts and masterclasses during the following decade. In 1979 he was awarded an MA in Musicology from Flinders University. During the 1980s Patrick served for four years in the elective position of Director of the Elder Conservatorium. 1989 he was appointed Associate Dean of Performing Arts at the University of Adelaide, and also inaugurated the Faculty’s international student program. Since 2002 he has been active as a music education consultant, having previously advised the Malaysian Ministry of Culture and the Commonwealth government on performing arts policy.
Patrick has assumed different ‘guises’ at each stage of his involvement with the AYO: he started out as a student at National Music Camp, was a member of the inaugural AYO, came back to tutor younger musicians, acted as residential co-ordinator, and has played a key role in the organisation as the AYO’s Volunteer Development Co-ordinator. Patrick has also supported the organisation as a donor, and a bequestor. If you’ve participated in an AYO program – there’s a good chance that Patrick has been involved in making it a success!
Patrick has enjoyed seeing the AYO and its musicians grow from strength to strength. He takes pleasure in seeing his former students, who share the same passion for AYO, lend their time and experience to training the next generation of musicians. “What is particularly gratifying is that two of my former students – Andrew Bain and Peter Luff – in addition to having wonderful and distinguished careers of their own, have also tutored at Music Camps and AYO, whose ranks are now filled with ‘grandstudents.’”
By assisting with the setting-up and management of the Alumni program since 2002, Patrick has helped bring together “many of those whose memories of their time with AYO are, like mine, unforgettable.” The numbers of AYO’s alumni of course are increasing every year! “There’s a feeling of renewal, of refreshment. I particularly enjoy talking with students playing in AYO for their first time. When listening to their expressions of excitement and wonder, it’s as if nothing has changed at all in those 60 years” says Patrick.
The AYO is extremely lucky to have Patrick’s ongoing dedication and support. His commitment to teaching has inspired many musicians to pursue careers in music training and performance. We extend a sincere thankyou to Patrick for a lifetime of service to the AYO, and are proud to have him as an Honorary Life Member of our organisation.