BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
This February, young musicians of the Australian Youth Orchestra are set to showcase their skill, determination, and passion in a series of concerts in Victoria.
One of the leading talents in these upcoming events is AYO concertmaster Annabelle Traves.
Achieving ambitious musical goals is not an unfamiliar experience for this award-winning violinist. Yet she is humble in expressing: “I’m so excited, I’ve never really led an orchestra this large before – and of such a high standard!”.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music student was selected as the AYO concertmaster for the upcoming February season, having practised hard for her audition to achieve “an absolute dream come true”.
It comes after a long history with the group – in 2012, Annabelle was named the youngest member of the Australian Youth Orchestra at just 14 years old.
“All around me were these musicians who I looked up to so much as a young schoolgirl – and I got to play alongside them!”
Her first big break came when she was 11, and toured with the Tagiev Chamber Ensemble to Shanghai, Seville, and Estonia; as well as performing in venues such as the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall.
“To be honest, at the time the only thing I was trying to wrap my head around – as an 11-year-old – was that I was just doing what I loved, and got to travel to the most beautiful places because of it!”
As a senior-year student at St Margaret’s Anglican Girl’s School, Annabelle also travelled to London and Paris as the school’s Chamber Strings concertmaster (during which time she scored first place in Wales’ highly competitive Llangollen International Music Festival).
The musician has since gone on to receive a scholarship with the University of Sydney, win the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Prize for Most Outstanding Baroque Performance, and been selected to attend the Estivo European Chamber Music Summer School in Italy.
Having built her musical portfolio non-stop from such a young age, Annabelle has developed her musicianship at a rapid pace.
“I think musical growth is something very personal, and is something that every musician can look back and reflect on,” she says.
“We are all constantly trying to expand our musical knowledge in order to be better musicians, so growth is inevitable.”
As a child, she simply “performed the piece with as much gusto as I could muster, because I loved it and didn’t give it a second thought!”. But moving on from this “ignorant bliss”, she’s harnessed this passion into what will surely set her onto a sustainable career path in the performing arts, well into the future.
“There is a sort of deep satisfaction you get when you do delve a lot deeper into every aspect of a piece. You feel like you really understand the piece you are playing on a personal level, and what the composer really wanted to say.
“The piece may be over a hundred years old, but it’s as if you are able to bring it to life again while you are on stage. I think I was only able to get that feeling once I grew more both musically and personally.”
After all of her experiences around the world, Annabelle continues to return to the Australian Youth Orchestra and values the opportunity to perform with other young musicians.
“It is such a brilliant concept. That a few times a year, the best young Australian musicians meet in the same place to work together intensively, I find absolutely amazing.
“It baffles me how Australia’s most prominent performers and influencers of the classical industry are brought in to work with us. Musicians you grow up idolising, reading articles about, and listening to recordings of – and then all of a sudden they’re sitting next to you offering their advice on a tricky passage!
“It is such a special aspect of AYO.”
But one of the most important things Annabelle hopes to gain from her February experience with the AYO is “perspective”.
“One thing that will always vary from person to person is interpretation. I wouldn’t necessarily play a melody the same way my friend Sergio on viola would play it, or my friend Kate on oboe! Hearing everybody’s different perspectives on all aspects of the music we will be playing will be so interesting for me, and I can’t wait to come away with a better overall understanding of the works.”
When it comes to giving back to the orchestra, Annabelle likes to fetch coffee for the admin team because “they work day and night!” – and importantly, she says that being as prepared as she can be is the way to show her respect to the performers alongside her.
Her profound advice to other young performers with the AYO and beyond is that “musical paths never quite reach an ‘end’ point. You just have to keep practising and keep going”.
“And don’t forget to thank Mum or Dad for always driving you to lessons and rehearsals!”
Watch Annabelle lead the Australian Youth Orchestra as concertmaster at 7pm, February 15 in Melbourne’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall; and 7pm, February 16 in Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre.
CutCommon subscribers receive 20% off tickets!
Images supplied. This story was produced in collaboration with the Australian Youth Orchestra – check out what else these young musicians are doing in Australia!