Commissioned as a celebration of former AYO CEO Colin Cornish, Overt by Australian composer and AYO alum Iain Grandage, is the opening work of this July’s concert Mood: Mahler and Wagner. We caught up with Iain to hear about the inspiration behind the work.

Don’t miss Iain in conversation with fellow musical mind, Clare Bowditch, at their pre-concert talk, Sunday 14 July, 4.15pm Hamer Hall.

A male composer in a blue suit smiles in front of a light blue background.
Image: Pia Johnson

I grew up inside youth orchestras, being in the WA Youth Orchestra across my secondary schooling, and then AYO through much of my tertiary education. I loved it. It felt like home. Surrounded by like-minded people who felt the same rush of excitement and joy at being part of an organism that was so much more than the sum of its individual parts. We laughed and wept together, falling in love with orchestral music and each other in equal part.  More than thirty years later, I am still close contact with many friends from this time – they are life-long connections forged and life-changing experiences gained.

So it is a distinct thrill to be asked to write for an orchestra that had such a profound influence on my life. This work stems from the first moment I spied true orchestral virtuosity. It was January 1988 and fresh out of school, I was attending my first National Music Camp. There I saw Carlo Felice Cillario conduct the most electric AYO performance of the Ruslan & Ludmilla overture – ebullient virtuosity streamed off that stage. They were euphoric. I was too. And the memory of that moment has never left me.

This piece Overt is about those internal processes being made outwardly evident – a piece that is filled with ebullience, joy and the miracle of orchestral organism. Its central section is gentler, quieter and features solo and tutti viola solos. These are there for Colin Cornish, for whom the work was commissioned after he led the organisation with such skill over so many years, in order to honour his own earlier history as a viola player. 

Iain Grandage
Cellist in front of a stormy background

Join AYO for what promises to be an exceptional world premiere!

Mood: Mahler and Wagner

Saturday 13 July, 3pm
Costa Hall
Geelong / Djilang


Sunday 14 July, 5pm
Pre-concert talk with Iain Grandage and Clare Bowditch, 4.15pm
Hamer Hall
Melbourne / Naarm