Recently I have been pondering what it means to ‘come home’ – both in a literal sense, as well as in a figurative one. This is because after living in Helsinki for several months, I am now not only coming home to Australia, but I am also en route to my island birthplace of Tasmania. A tiny dot 30,000 feet above the Earth, I write these words as part of the first of a series of blogs discussing the upcoming regional tour of ACO2 to Tasmania over the next fortnight.
The musicians of the Australian Chamber Orchestra probably ‘come home’ more often than almost anyone else in the country. I recall an interview with the ACO’s principal bass player Max Bibeau a few years ago, where he stated that he had been away from home almost 100 nights in the preceding year. One might look romantically upon the life of a touring musician, but it is no secret that the pull toward home soon becomes a strong and recurring feeling. Some might wonder why members of the ACO would subject themselves and their loved ones to such regular absence from their homes.
The answer is simple: they are truly passionate about music.
This same passion is deeply felt by the young Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud. Joining ACO2 as guest director for its tour of Tasmania, he has come a long way from his own home of Oslo. My colleagues and I look forward to working with Henning, who will be bringing a program of music entirely from his Scandinavian homeland.
Whilst living in Helsinki, I was witness to the exceptional and world-leading educational system of Finland. It reminded me just how important ACO2 was in my own musical education and development. Its creation was important for young musicians, and the musical life of Australia.
In her recent eulogy for one of Australia’s great reformers, Cate Blanchett quoted Gough Whitlam’s own words:
‘In any civilised community, the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life. Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the arts – the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage … Our other objectives are all means to an end. The enjoyment of the arts is an end in itself.’
Richard Tognetti’s creation of ACO2 back in 2007 shows the same forward-thinking and visionary attitude of our late Prime Minister. Though roughly two-thirds of Australia’s population live in one of its eight capital cities, many people’s homes are in a regional centre. Sadly, the performance of classical music in these places is often a rare occurrence. One of Tognetti’s original visions for ACO2 was for it to go everywhere the Australian Chamber Orchestra couldn’t. After hundreds of concerts in every state and territory, ACO2 is going from strength to strength.
I am proud to come home to perform with an ensemble doing something inherently positive in the world. In a time of ever increasing uncertainty, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to spend my life doing something I love.
Norwegian Guest Director Henning Kraggerud leads ACO2 in a concert featuring music by two of the great Scandinavian Romantic composers, Sibelius and Grieg.
Don’t miss this chance to hear musicians from Australia’s most dynamic and critically acclaimed orchestra performing with the stars of the future. Book now.