This January, 242 young musicians, composers, arts administrators, writers and sound production students will descend on Adelaide for AYO National Music Camp, where they will present a series of eight summer concerts. Here, Music Director Elizabeth Wallfisch discusses what’s in store for this exciting program.

Elizabeth Wallfisch black and white picture

You have been a Guest Director/Leader on the violin with many of the world’s orchestras including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Netherlands Bach Society, Tafelmusik – Canada, Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra. Can you tell me what inspired you to take the role of Music Director at AYO National Music Camp?

EW – I was a music camper from the age of nearly 14, to 18, and a member of the AYO for 3 seasons, including the tour to Japan in 1970.

These were the years of ‘Aunty’ Ruth Alexander, Ron Maslyn Williams, and Percy Jones. John Bishop had recently died. John Hopkins was our conductor for those years, among many other visionary skilfull and inspiring conductors.

It was the best thing every year. I have only happy memories. Inspiring memories, of falling in love with music, orchestral music – Dvorak, Borodin, Beethoven, Bartok, Elgar. Chamber Music featured highly on the agenda and we worked at some of the greatest piano trios in my time as a Camper. It is immeasurable how much we learned and absorbed and then brought to our music making as adults!
And then there were the friendships forged there that are still as fresh as they were then.

The Music Camp family is as strong now as it was then. I was invited to be Music Director of Camp first for 2007, and my heart leapt with terror and joy. Who, me? Music Director? But it worked, and it was a fine Music Camp, and now I have high hopes for an even stronger and more joyous Camp in 2013.
It is the greatest honour I can imagine in my career to hold this position for these 2 seasons. A privilege indeed.

How important was participating in similar orchestral camps for your musical development?

EW – Pivotal. From the moment we played our first auditions at Music Camp (they did them on arrival in those days), to the first rehearsal with the conductor, to the tutorials, the chamber music the meals and the sense of community, the love of music, I was hooked. I have always, from my earliest years, had the desire to play the violin. Music Camp was food and drink to me, and to many others. We learnt soooo much! And came home inspired to learn more, to play better. And to go to the next Camp.

What will be the focus of the AYO National Music Camp in 2013?

EW – Leipzig, in a word. As the hub of a musical wheel. The Leipzig of Johann Sebastian Bach, of Mendelssohn, to Schumann, to Brahms, to Schoenberg, to Mahler, to Elgar, to Stravinsky, to now. This part of Germany has been home to the greatest composer of all time – Bach. There is not one musician who is untouched by the music of Bach.

So, in the evolutionary process that is programme building over the last 18 months, this has been the root of all discussion. The wheel radiates out to all corners of the world, bringing in composers and works that may surprise, and will certainly delight the players and listeners alike.

The ‘Concept of Style’ is key to bringing the music of all ages alive, and we will certainly be concentrating, intensely and respectfully, on learning as much as we can about the languages of each composer, and bringing the stories in the music to life, as closely as possible to the intentions, as we imagine, that were the composers.

What should participants do in their preparation for AYO National Music Camp?

EW – Have a Happy Christmas time!

And after the festivities, get into shape on their instruments, with a good regime of practice. Take a look at the orchestral music – get ahead!

If a young player goes to camp not having practised for 2 weeks, they are likely to be overwhelmed by the challenges presented, not have enough time to practise their parts and be struggling to keep up.
It is full on once they are there!