Perth is known for its idealistic weather but unfortunately we arrive in Perth during a massive storm front… which we manage to keep ahead of as we drive down to the wheat-belt town of Narrogin. Our major concern is for our moisture-sensitive instruments. When we arrive in Narrogin we rush them out of the van to keep them dry.
We head to our first tour date at Narrogin Senior High School. Students from around Narrogin have braved the storm to attend our school’s concerts. The primary school’s concert warms up with a lively game of Eine kliene Pizzicato, where students have to distinguish our different playing techniques as we play Mozart’s Eine kliene Nachtmusik.
In the afternoon we perform a concert for the secondary students. Students ask questions about the life of a professional musician and different aspects of playing stringed instruments.
We head to Narrogin Senior Citizen’s Centre for our first public concert of the tour. Members of the local Arts Council prepare supper for the audience and sneak a preview of the performance while we rehearse. There’s a lot of tuning, to account for the change in temperature. Our performance is warmly received by the audience, who are eager to chat to us after the show.
Our next stop is Katanning, approximately one hour’s drive south of Narrogin. We perform at Katanning Senior High School for over 300 students who listen with rapt attention. We are saddened to discover there has not been a music program at this school for over 10 years.
The questions at the end of the performance come thick-and-fast and cover all aspect of our careers, inspirations, lives and performances. After the concert we are pleasantly surprised when a group of students hang back to ask yet more questions.
We perform an evening concert at the Katanning Leisure centre – a change of venue as the beautiful Katanning Town Hall is currently closed for renovations. Many students from Katanning Senior High School attend the concert, and the audience is so large that we have to bring in more seats.
We travel to the beautiful forest town of Manjimup which is surrounded by national parks. Our concert at the Manjimup Town Hall turns out to be our biggest audience so far and there are several curtain calls after the performance.
Before heading to our final destination, Albany, we play a concert for primary and secondary students in Manjimup. We explore how music can express emotions, again using Mozart’s Eine kliene Nachtmusik. The students ask us to play the piece as if we were angry, happy, or sad and we change our speed, dynamics and articulation to reflect these emotions.
Today we run a professional development session with teachers and amateur musicians from Albany who make up the Albany Chamber Orchestra – the other ACO. A large audience of friends, family and students pile into the hall to observe the last hour of rehearsals. The students are particularly eager to see their teachers in action (and under scrutiny!). At the end, we invite some of the younger children to come and sit in the orchestra to immerse themselves in the music.
Tonight’s performance is the last of tour, featuring a special guest appearance by the Albany Chamber Orchestra.
Today, the final day of this busy tour, we run two workshops for string students from around Albany. At Albany Senior High School, we hold a workshop with students who play in the Albany Youth Orchestra. We arrive to find so many participants that it proves difficult to fit everyone in the rehearsal room. After rehearsing a new piece, the folk tune Antin Mikko, and helping to polish an arrangement that the youth orchestra have been working on, we present a short concert for family and friends.
Then we’re off to Great Southern Grammar School for our final workshop and final event of the tour. Members of the Albany Chamber Orchestra come to watch the workshop, and the short concert at the end amasses the largest audience we’ve ever had at a workshop – a perfect way to end the tour.