Whilst on tour in Far North Queensland, ACO2 ran a strings workshop with some of Cairns’ promising young musicians. Peter Clark and Adam Szabo, two of our Emerging Artists, share their experiences from the road.
After ACO2 acclimatised to the tropical humidity of Far North Queensland, we descended on one of Cairns’ (and Australia’s) most unique performing spaces: Tank Arts Centre.
Three overwhelmingly large tanks situated deep in the rainforest form the heart of the Centre. Constructed during the Second World War to store fuel for Australian Naval vessels, their secluded rainforest location meant they would remain safe from aerial attack. Today, it is the perfect environment for artistic creativity of all kinds, and especially for the performance of music.
What I love most about ACO2 is that education forms the central pillar of the Orchestra. As young Emerging Artists, we learn by performing alongside our mentors from the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Local school children then learn by playing alongside us in educational workshops that we run. We were visiting Tank Arts Centre to run one of these workshops.
More than 30 young and eager string players were waiting for us inside one of the converted tanks, ready to begin rehearsing the Mozart and Grieg they had been preparing for some weeks.
It is always so inspiring seeing the enthusiasm and love for music that these young musicians have. Not all of them may go on to become professional musicians, but studying an instrument and cultivating a love for playing, listening and appreciating music is so important.
After some sectionals, some fresh air and a rather large tray of banana bread, we came back together as a full orchestra for one final rehearsal, before giving an energetic and passionate performance for family and friends.
What a wonderful space to work in, with acoustics perfect for a chamber orchestra.
Well done to all the students – never lose your energy and passion.
Thank you Tank Arts Centre – we hope to return soon.
Huge, refurbished cement water tanks dot the tropical landscape of the aptly named Tank Arts Centre in Cairns. Inside, they are cool and silent, at least until the young musicians arrive. I grew up in Sydney and now live in the UK; it is like nothing I have ever seen.
In addition to their dramatic appearance, the tanks are also pretty smashing places to perform; the acoustics are rather exciting, and we have a small wooden stage to work with. The team directing the workshop today includes the inimitable Chris Moore (ACO, viola), Joe Bisits (ACO2, bass), Doretta Balkizas (ACO2, violin), Peter Clark (ACO2, violin) and my good self (Adam Szabo, ACO2, cello, of yellow sneaker fame).
The workshop today is a full day: rehearsals in the morning followed by sectionals then an informal concert to finish. We will need the time – we have a lot of repertoire to get through. Today we are working with a group of students with a hugely diverse range of backgrounds and abilities; fortunately there is something for everyone.
The Finnish folk song “Antin Mikko” is easy enough to keep up with, and even the less experienced students have a ball. Peter is leading the ensemble, and the violin solo that starts the song raises a few eyebrows amongst the kids. My desk partner leans over in shock and whispers: “He’s playing so fast!”
On the other end of the spectrum is the deceptively difficult slow movement of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. The first read through starts promisingly before degenerating into something of a slow-motion train crash. In the concert, however, it comes off very well (with the exception of a repeat that is spontaneously skipped by the entire ensemble … these things happen).
Our curtain call is extended and warmly received. As Chris points out, even if these students do not turn out to be the musicians of tomorrow, they will certainly be the audiences of the future. This is something worth nurturing.
We have an album of lovely photographs of the workshop over on our Facebook page.