Aiko Goto on 10 years of ACO Academy
ACO Academy, our program bringing high school string players from across Australia together for an intensive week of orchestral rehearsals, sectionals and chamber music sessions, is turning 10 this year.
“Time has gone very quickly!” ACO Violin Aiko Goto, who leads ACO Academy, laughs.
“Every year is very special for me. And every year has made me cry – in a good way!”
“I was very excited to hear about the opportunity to mentor younger high school-aged students and choose from brilliant players.”Aiko Goto, ACO Violin
ACO Academy is taking place in Melbourne this year and, after an intense week of rehearsals during the school holidays, it will culminate in a showcase performance by the participants and ACO musicians.
“The academy takes music-making seriously, and features challenging daily rehearsals,” Aiko explains. “The rehearsals last a full day, and we do the string ensemble with chamber music sessions too. We perform a chamber concert for parents, and for listening to each other, at the end of the program.”
“It’s quite full on – and full on for us too!” she adds.
The unique opportunity was conceived and established in 2012 to offer an extra stage of learning with the ACO and ACO musicians. Over the past decade, it has welcomed nearly 200 participants, 12 of whom went on to become ACO Emerging Artists.
“We already had ACO Emerging Artists, and ACO2 – which is now the ACO Collective tour – and the idea was to spread the opportunity to artists who were that bit younger again,” Aiko says.
“I was very excited to hear about the opportunity to mentor younger high school-aged students and choose from brilliant players. The ACO began advertising and the YouTube auditions started.”
As well as intensive music-making, the program is characterised by the lasting friendships it fosters – between the young players, but also between them and the ACO musicians who participate as mentors each year.
“The section leaders of the ensemble are core ACO players, and I have so much trust and respect for my colleagues.”Aiko Goto, ACO Violin
“Every year is different, and has a unique character because of the students,” Aiko reflects. “Teenagers are really, really sensitive, and they absorb everything and want to learn everything, so when we teach and give our energy they respond amazingly. I think they are a really precious age.”
Aiko smiles: “The program lasts for only five or six days: on the first day they are very shy but they’ve prepared really well; the second day everyone is getting to know each other; by the third day everyone is chatting! By the fourth and fifth day, and the concert, there is a lot of excitement.”
And one of the most cherished parts of ACO Academy for Aiko is the chance to work with her ACO colleagues, who also bring so much to the program.
“My colleagues are wonderful to watch with the young players,” she says. “The section leaders of the ensemble are core ACO players, and I have so much trust and respect for my colleagues.
“It’s amazing to watch them teach. We have all always loved sharing music, and that’s an important part of the ACO’s character too. So it’s a gift both ways – for us and them sharing music.”