27 September 2010

Alina Zamfir
Alina Zamfir

Alina Zamfir likes to keep a banana in her back pocket as part of her preparation for concert performances.

The 20-year-old viola player, now in the third year of a performance degree at The Con, finds that eating bananas aids concentration and helps "centre" her ahead of going on stage.

"Most performers have a pre-concert routine - mine is finding a quiet room and munching a banana. I find it relaxes the nerves and gives comfort that what I'm about to do is straightforward and good for the soul," she comments. "It works for me every time."

Alina, of Sydney, will be following her regime throughout a milestone concert tour to the USA next month as a member of The Con's Chamber Orchestra.

As one of 34 selected students, she will be part of collaborative concerts staged with the Juilliard School in New York, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the College of Music in Boulder, Colorado.

The "fusion" with Juilliard has historical significance - it will be the first time in the 95 year history of The Con that a collective of its musicians has been hosted by the esteemed School and only the second time the School has joined forces with another music institution (London's Royal Academy of Music in 2005).

The joint orchestras will perform modern American music by William Schuman and modern Australian music by Richard Mills, under the batons of Australian Maestro Imre Pallo and American Maestro James DePreist.

Alina believes the experience will be "magical," but is not overawed. Earlier in the year she was one of 68 students in The Con Symphony Orchestra's tour to Germany, playing at Stuttgart's "Europe Day" and as resident orchestra at the Bronnbach festival, receiving standing ovations and positive media reviews.

Last year she performed in six concerts in the UK, Switzerland, Italy and Austria as one of eight postgraduates and 26 undergraduates making up the Chamber Orchestra.

Born in Romania, Alina played the piano and saxophone for many years before switching to the violin and then to the viola.

"I was born into a house filled with music, so it has always been a big part of my life," she says. "The viola is larger than a violin and smaller than a cello. I love its more mellow sound.

"Playing an instrument solo or as part of an ensemble in front of an audience is never easy, but you have to trust yourself.

"I'm looking forward to learning about American playing techniques and comparing teaching styles, but at the same time I think they may well get a few surprises from the way we do things.

"I hope the bananas are in season when we're in New York!"


  • 18 October, Lincoln Center, New York
  • 22 October, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • 26 October, College of Music, University of Colorado, in Boulder

There will be a live stream of the Lincoln Center concert at The Con at 11am, 19 October.

RSVP for this event by 4 October is

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

Email: 1e2f2e3e78040b273627150032030d464d3d3e37417729361c64563b