We sat down with 2021 Richard Pollett Memorial Award recipient Robert Smith to discuss what winning this award means to him as a young violinist, his AYO highlights, and what the future holds for his musical journey!
What are some highlights from your journey with AYO?
I have been a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra since 2019 and I still remember performing Don Juan by Strauss with the Bishop Orchestra at my first National Music Camp. In the same year, I led the Young Symphonists program where we performed a variety of exciting works, including Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Symphony and Dvorak’s Carnival Overture. Another highlight was leading the Bishop Orchestra this year at the National Music Camp in Melbourne. It was an absolutely surreal experience to lead such an incredible orchestra under the guidance of Umberto Clerici.
Outside of AYO, what have you been up to?
I am just about to enter my final year as a Bachelor of Music in Performance candidate at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. I regularly participate in the university’s orchestral programs where we recently performed Mahler’s 5th Symphony under Johannes Fritzsch. I also enjoy working in a chamber setting and have performed several times with Southern Cross Soloists, Ensemble Q and my university string quartet, Borodin Quartet.
What does winning the Richard Pollett Memorial Award mean to you as a young violinist?
Winning this award is a huge honour and I am deeply humbled by the generosity of the Pollett family for their continual support of this award. The prospect of moving overseas to complete a degree can be daunting. Financial security is an issue that most young musicians face and this award means that some of the costs associated with completing a degree overseas are eliminated.
What are you hoping the next steps of your career look like?
After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I am looking to study a Masters of Orchestral Performance in Amsterdam, where it is possible to audition for internships with professional orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Another possibility for postgraduate studies is a Masters of Performance at the Royal College of Music in London.
What advice would you like to give to any young musician who might be reading this?
One of the most important parts of being a musician is being a team member. This is why AYO is so important to me. Being a part of AYO has not only helped me to improve a variety of skills in orchestral performance, but has also helped me to develop networks with some of the most amazing musicians across the country. I would encourage every young musician to apply for AYO as it can be a very rewarding experience.