The inaugural Richard Pollett Memorial Award reception was held at Customs House, with the $10,000 Award presented to the 2012 winner, Glenn Christensen, by AYO Chief Executive Officer Colin Cornish and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Professor Deborah Terry.

The Award was established in the memory of the promising young violinist, Richard Pollett whose life was tragically cut short on 27 September 2011 aged 25.

As Richard was a violinist of extraordinary musical depth, the Pollett family in association with the Australian Youth Orchestra established the annual Award to provide support and encouragement to young violinists who display outstanding personal and musical qualities.

Glenn Christensen first auditioned for Australian Youth Orchestra in 2004 and since that time has participated in all programs in the AYO pathway and this year was invited to be Concertmaster. In June 2012 Christensen was appointed Principal First Violin with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Here AYO Marketing and Communications Manager Sarah Gilchrist discovers how AYO has helped Glenn prepare for his career.

AYO violinist Glenn Christensen performs on stage.

You have recently been awarded the position of Principal First Violin with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, how has participating in AYO programs helped you in your career pathway?

I’d have to say that AYO has definitely been one of the most important experiences in my musical education. I’ve learnt so much about not only orchestral playing, chamber music, leading, music history and traditions, but also social skills and general life skills that have definitely shaped me as a person and had a huge impact on my career development.

What are the three best things about being part of AYO?

The people you meet and friendships you make, the intense passion of the music-making, the laughs!

You’ve almost made the record for the most number of AYO programs attended – after completing so many programs with uswhat’s been a highlight for you?

My first program was in 2004, and probably the biggest highlight since then was playing at the BBC Proms in 2010, and a close second was performing Beethoven 9 in Adelaide – so exhilarating!

What would you say to someone just starting out with AYO?

To any people new to AYO – the more you give, the more you receive! Give everything your all, and the experiences and knowledge you will gain will put you in great stead for life. And do as many National Music Camps as you can – it’s the BEST!