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Newsletter No 2: 2017 Season

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From the President: Daniel Kirkham

It is interesting to look at the supply and demand of instrumentalists around orchestras. For instance, violinists and other string instrument players are in heavy demand and we are forever looking for more to swell our ranks, but I can't remember the number of flautists who have asked to join, and which unfortunately we cannot accommodate.

A similar situation applies to conductors and orchestras, in that there are sparingly few opportunities for emerging conductors to ply, let alone practice their craft in front of an orchestra.

With our Artistic Director Mark Shiell having announced his intention to step down at the end of 2017, and also becoming unavailable for our May and June concerts (details below), we had no hesitation in inviting some emerging conductors to take his place.

So at our next two concert programs in May and June, please welcome Ingrid, Joseph and Josh to the podium, and give them the encouragement they deserve – they are great talents.

Daniel Kirkham
President, ZMSO Inc.

Mark Shiell Era to End in December

Sadly we announce that Mark Shiell has announced that he will step down from the end of this year after eight years as our Artistic Director and Conductor. Mark has given us plenty of notice giving us time to fill his huge shoes. Having said that, Mark is having shoulder trouble and is taking leave for the next two concerts to heal fully for our spectacular concerts later this year in Hamer Hall on 17 September with Adrian Tamburini and in the Recital Centre on 2 December with pianist Hoang Pham.

Mark will be devoting more time to his flute amongst other adventures and we wish him well with his plans. We will be sorry to lose him but we have to recognise that all good things have to come to an end sometime. It has been a wonderful period of growth and achievement under Mark’s baton with the orchestra expanding its musical horizons into different major venues and with exciting projects. Mark has created a feeling that there is no limit to the orchestra’s possibilities.

Guest Conductors for the May and June concerts

Our May concert will feature two guest conductors sharing the programme. Ingrid Martin has been part of our horn section and has been following her conducting dream elsewhere. Ingrid has been Artistic Director for the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Monash Concert Band for the last two years and is looking forward to spreading her conducting wings further afield.

Joseph Lallo studied conducting in Strasbourg and worked with orchestras and youth groups around Europe until he returned to Australia six months ago. Joseph began his musical journey with classical saxophone and his passions have since expanded to conducting and new music. Joseph is currently teaching and conducting at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the Percy Grainger Youth Orchestra.

Rosemary and John Hopkins Award Recipient 2016

Josh Geddes was announced some time ago as the recipient of the 2016 Rosemary and John Hopkins Award, which assist the recipient with a youth or community music project, and an opportunity to work with Zelman Symphony. The latter will see Josh conduct part of the Eisteddfod concert in June.

We asked Josh to reflect on winning the award:

I first met John Hopkins in 2002 when I was asked to play with the University of Melbourne orchestra as they were short of horns. We played Elgar’s Enigma Variations in St. Paul's Cathedral; music that was dear to John. It was one of the most magical performances I experienced.

Fast forward to 2006, and he selected me to participate at the MYM Summer School Young Conductors Program. From that moment he always shared his vast experience of music and life. I continued my studies with him in the master’s program at Melbourne University. During this time, we would often have coffee together. He would critique how I engaged with the cashier or barista, noting the clarity of voice and eye contact; these skills being vital for a conductor. He would share his thoughts: recounting a story about his career, discussing an article he had read, or a revealing discovery he had made studying a score. John would often have that glint in his eye when we conducted for him. He would expect a lot from us knowing that the profession demands it. If something didn't work, we couldn't get away with it, but when things went well, he would nod in approval.

The last time I visited John I had just got back from spending 18 months overseas. I shared what I had seen and learnt. He then piercingly asked what I was going to do. I wanted to perform a work involving the local musicians within the Bendigo area (community music was something dear to John) and was trying to work out what work would be appropriate. He suggested Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and promptly gave me a lesson on many of the important aspects of the work (in fact this was why I won the award). As with every time I saw John he would say goodbye with the words "go well", but it was never a throwaway line, it was heartfelt.

Receiving the Rosemary and John Hopkins award is very important for me. The award is one of few available for conductors. The opportunity to conduct Zelman is special for me, particularly as I played with the orchestra while at university; it was also the first orchestra I conducted, in 2008. But most importantly, the award commemorates and celebrates my friend and mentor John Hopkins and his wife Rosemary. Josh Geddes

From the Concertmaster - Susan Pierotti

One of my functions as concertmaster begins weeks before the first rehearsal. When I know which pieces are to be played in the next concert, I download the string parts from the web and print copies of each. Then comes the ‘fun’ part – trying to match the bowings. Why is this important? In some respects it isn’t. However, as the string section is the foundation sound of every orchestra, it should sound unified, a homogenous whole. Bowing in the same up or down direction is how we achieve that unified sound.

However, bowings are as individual as people, and can elicit quite passionate arguments that can take up an entire rehearsal! This can annoy the conductor and bore the rest of the orchestra. Even when bow directions are agreed upon, if they are only written on the front desk copies, the string players at the back can waste much of their rehearsal time writing them in when they would prefer to, and should, be playing. My aim is to have every part bowed before we begin rehearsing.

But I have been known to change them after the first rehearsal. Zelman players constantly surprise and delight me with what they achieve in rehearsals after a full day’s work, but we don’t always have the full number of players required to be heard above the wind and brass. So I’ll discreetly add a few extra bowings to sustain the sound – just don’t tell the conductor or the others! Susan Pierotti

Player Profile - Maxine Sutcliffe

I grew up in Charleville in South-West Queensland. I took up the violin at age nine through a state-funded school program and also learnt piano, guitar, electric bass and even trombone! At fourteen, some friends and I formed a band and got gigs around the area. We were very lucky to have equipment and guidance from my parents who had been country and rock musicians around Rockhampton. They were very supportive of me especially once I decided I wanted to take music seriously.

My four years at the Con were exciting! I was able to take up the double bass as part of my study and played with many different groups and orchestras at a variety of venues.

Highlights of these years include working with musicians such as Jose McLaughlin, John Hoffman and Yitzhak Yedid in big band, jazz combo and klezmer ensembles.

I was a member of the Deep Blue Orchestra performing at Woodford Folk Festival and The Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre. I also played violin with the Queensland Youth Symphony, AISOI and the Conservatorium Orchestra. In December 2015 I decided to go to the dark side and take up viola as well.

Since moving to Melbourne I've dived into the bluegrass scene and play with the Melbourne Conservatorium Orchestra as a guest violist. A real highlight was playing principal viola for a tour to China with the Australian International Opera Company. We played Peter and the Wolf to 23,000 children in concert halls around the country. Playing with Zelman Symphony has also been a very rewarding experience for me, playing awesome repertoire with kind and enthusiastic people! Maxine Sutcliffe

March Concert - Glowing Review

Sylvester Kroyherr of Bohemian Rhapsody Club wrote a glowing review of our last concert. Summarising the review, he said:

“An immediate majestic energy linked the orchestra and (soloist) Phoebe Russell exciting to listen to and watch.”

“Fully satisfying the appreciative audience.”

“A most enjoyable, exciting and enriching concert.”

Read the complete review at Reviews 25 March 2017

2017 Concert Season

8.00 pm Saturday 27 May - Hawthorn Arts Centre
Daylesford Town Hall 2.00 pm Sunday 21 May
Beethoven - Coriolan Overture
Weber - Bassoon Concerto
Jack Schiller - Bassoon
Wagner - Siegfried Idyll
Beethoven - Symphony No.1

2.00 pm Sunday 25 June - Hawthorn Arts Centre
Boroondara Eisteddfod Piano Competition

2.00pm Sunday 17 September - Arts Centre Melbourne
Shostakovich Symphony No.13 Babi Yar 75th Anniversary
Harry Sdraulig - Crossway for Orchestra World Premiere
Elena Kats-Chernin - Flute Concerto Night and Now
Sally Walker - Flute
Shostakovich - Symphony No.13 Babi Yar
Adrian Tamburini - Bass Baritone

7.30 pm Saturday 2 December
Melbourne Recital Centre with Hoang Pham
Brahms - Academic Festival Overture
Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.1

Bookings are open for all concerts.

Let's Fill the Gap!

We are making good progress with our fundraising for a fourth timpani, but there is still a long way to go. With the increased complexity and range of the orchestra's repertoire, more changes of pitch are required and a full set of timpani will add greatly to the soundscape demanded in these works.

Information on how you can help us fulfil this dream can be found on the donations page of our website. Donations to the ZMSO Donations Fund are tax deductible and can be made securely online via or at the Box Office at our concerts.

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Page last modified on May 08, 2017, at 10:31 PM