AYO Alumna Freya Franzen is currently completing a Master of Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, under the tutelage of Stephanie Gonley, Concertmaster of the English Chamber Orchestra.

(NMC 2001, 2002, 2003, AYO Chamber Players 2011)

Ayo Alumna Freya Franzen

What are some of the experiences you’ve had with AYO?

My first experience with AYO was about 10 years ago at my first National Music Camp. I was 15 or so, super excited and very nervous! I had been listed as a reserve and had been waiting anxiously for a phone call from AYO, and when it finally came, I was ecstatic!

What has been an Australian Youth Orchestra highlight for you?

One of the many wonderful pieces on the program that year was Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. This was the first time I had ever heard the piece, and I still recall feeling intensely moved during the saxophone solo in the first movement. I was overwhelmed by the experience of so many young musicians making music together and I knew from then on, that music had to be my profession.

What do you love about the Australian Youth Orchestra?

AYO offered me a nurturing and supportive environment to experience orchestral playing and chamber music at a high level, but also made clear that what we do is hard work and extremely competitive. The programs I have participated in have been a source of pure enjoyment, but have also shown me discipline and direction, and have been paramount in getting me to where I am today.

You have recently moved overseas to pursue your music studies. Please tell us about where you are, what you are doing, what you are hoping to achieve as a result of your study.

Last year I was awarded a Sydney Symphony Fellowship, which was a turning point in my career. I felt so privileged to be playing with such fantastic musicians, and to be given so many invaluable opportunities with them, including being a part of the Mahler cycle recordings and performances under Vladimir Ashkenazy, and an international tour to Japan and Korea.

I am already grateful to my school for offering me opportunities such as a chamber music performance at Wigmore Hall, and an orchestral masterclass on Brahms’ Second Symphony under Valery Gergiev.

All in all, despite the cold and dreary weather, London is a very exciting city to live in for a musician!