10 November 2009

Students have spoken highly of their experiences as part of the Chamber Orchestra's recent European concert tour- the first international foray by the orchestra in six years.

The orchestra, made up of eight postgraduates and 26 undergraduates and led by Maestro Imre Pallo, performed a repertoire of Mozart, Mills and Beethoven, as well as support soloists from European partner institutions.

A total of six concerts were staged in Manchester, Lausanne, Genoa, Salzburg and Vienna.

Students reflect on their European Tour experience

MICHAEL LANE, of Kirrawee, Bachelor of Music Performance (flute)
'This was my first time overseas so I was amazed by the awesome venues. It brought the best out of me. It was a real test of stamina.
'Standards rose as we pushed each other and I thought we really achieved something special.
'I never thought I would get passed the audition, so it was pretty cool to be offered a spot. I am so thankful for the opportunity.
'To play in the orchestra for the first time was demanding but exhilarating. And learning about different cultures was something special; while performing in ideal conditions helped raise the size of the challenge.
'Imre was very good to work with. He is such a character, and he seems to bring the best out of everyone.
'I won't be forgetting the responses of the audiences anytime soon. And to play in Mozart's home town was such a buzz.
'I learned Italian in high school, so I got to use a bit of it. It got a group of us home in a taxi in Genoa, and a receipt.'

SOM, of Hornsby, Bachelor of Music Performance (clarinet)
'I was picked as a reserve at first, so it was great to was much better than I thought it would be. Definitely the best thing I've done.

'I didn't have a lot of experience as principal clarinet before, so I was pretty nervous to start with. That was a great challenge to overcome.

'There was plenty of fun as well as pressure. Playing in such illustrious venues was inspiring.

'Imre is funny, and we got to know him better; we got to know everyone better.

'Imre sought of reminds me of Count Dracula in Sesame Street...he supported all of fact, everyone supported each other. The team chemistry was definitely there, and upped the ante of my playing in an orchestra.

'It is kind of sad we won't be playing again together, though I understand we are going to do some recordings together. I know it is impractical for us to perform together again, but that sure would be great.

'The highlight for me was going to Old Trafford and seeing Chelsea play before 75,000 people. Just awesome!'

MANNY CASSIMATIS, of Maroubra, Bachelor of Music Performance (oboe)
'The bonding we achieved was magic. The ensemble was so well selected. The pieces came together so much better.

'Indeed, my wish would be that we play together again.

'Manchester was a real highlight. Going to the Royal College, which was full of students and allowed so much interface.

'We got to see how they do things. I met other oboists and we got to compare notes.

'The repertoire was familiar but also flexible. It meant I got to do different things.

'The audience reception was excellent wherever we went. Zalzburg was just amazing. Right there in Mozart's birthplace! Absolutely breathtaking.

'A good thing is that I now know a lot more about my fellow students, which makes for better relations within The Con.

'Imre told us early on: 'We don't compete; we just play.' And that really changed the attitude. We started believing in each other from then onwards.

'Getting to know Kim (Walker) better was great, and same with Elaine (Chia).

'Yes, definitely a goal for 2010 is to make the orchestra for the US tour.'

LAURA BROWN, of Elizabeth Bay, Bachelor of Music Performance (bassoon)
'I've traveled to and performed in Japan, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand and parts of NSW, so I felt good about the tour.

'What was really good was that we were encouraged to be independent and get around on our own devices rather than be bussed everywhere together all the time.

'This made it more of an adventure.

'There were so many highlights, but having a combined rehearsal with the Royal College bassoonists was amazing. It was like A Bassoon Night Out.

'They have different points of view and techniques, especially their reed-making. I learned a lot and will try some of it out back here to see if it makes a difference for me.

'It was great swapping stories with the Dean over breakfast.

'Our last concert in Vienna was amazing. The room was difficult to play in; we all went up a level...our timing was perfect...we just knew each other so well by then.

'Prior to the tour playing 2nd bassoon for Beethoven would have made me consider my weaknesses. But over there I got through them all. I kept saying to myself 'what's the problem...I can do it.

'The articulation was superb across the section...we felt totally relaxed.

'Imre made such a big impression on everyone and kept our spirits up.

'The night before we were travelling by bus for 11 hours from Genoa to Zalzburg he said: 'I've never slept with a whole orchestra before, but we will find out tomorrow.'

ROB OETOMI, of Sydney, Bachelor of Music Performance (percussion)
'I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out pretty good. It opened my eyes to what other conservatoriums are doing. And it has set me up for the rest of my degree.

'My standards have definitely gone up. It was a demanding program and schedule. But here we were in Europe, where it's at. The pressure was enormous but we got better and better.

'Our confidence levels went way up. Our first concert in Manchester had my nerves going crazy. I was physically shaken. But after we went on I settled down well. I had to pinch myself re being there!

'The rush is still there. The food, the locations...I love percussion even more than I did.

'The highlight was meeting Professor Peter Saddler in Zalzburg. He is one of the greatest. He was there for a rehearsal and I just popped the question on receiving a personal lesson, and he said yes.

'He then came along to the concert, which just had my head spinning.

'The tour taught me not to take percussion for granted.'