AYO: 1952-1965
AYO National Music Camp: 1952-1965

Frank Pam has had a varied career in education and music for over 40 years. He attended seven National Music Camps, three as Coordinator of Chamber Music and was Principal Viola of AYO for five years between 1959 and 1965; he also studied conducting with John Hopkins OBE AM at the VCA.

Frank has performed with orchestras in Australia and overseas and has conducted and/or founded several Melbourne orchestras. In 1975 Frank founded the Melbourne Musicians Chamber Orchestra which continues today and has included many leading musicians including Slavor Grigorian, Li Wei Qin, Libby Wallfisch and Merlyn Quaife. He is also a regular presenter on 3MBS FM.


Question: What inspired you to establish the Melbourne Musicians Chamber Orchestra?

Answer My AYO and NMC experiences – the sheer joy of playing music with others – helped nurture my passion for chamber music. Also, as a student I toured in a chamber orchestra throughout Germany and France and was very inspired by the visit to Australia of an orchestra of German students; none of them were studying music but they achieved very high standards of playing through disciplined practice and by taking repertoire seriously. I had a dream to create a similarly dedicated chamber orchestra with a core group of players who could perform exciting, challenging repertoire. It’s wonderful that so many world-class musicians have played with the Melbourne Musicians, often in the early stages of their careers.

Question: What is your most vivid AYO memory?

Answer We were playing Bruckner’s 4th Symphony with Viennese conductor Georg Tintner and during the performance we were playing in 38 degrees celsius heat; Georg conducted us in a thick woolly jumper, to demonstrate that it wasn’t too hot to play! It was a special experience.

Question: Tell us about studying conducting with John Hopkins AM OBE.

Answer With John I had the chance to conduct Stravinsky’s <i>Rite of Spring</i>, which is a real test for conductors, as it has such complex rhythms. John combined thorough technique and interpretation with extensive musical experience. Even in his 80s, he attended one of my concerts and gave me some positive conducting tips; he was constantly mentoring and encouraging others.