It’s learning your parts. It’s developing your technique. It’s rocking up to rehearsal. In fact, for some, it’s embarking on a 10-hour round-trip to rock up to your rehearsal.
This is life for the young rural musician. In our series Rural Commuters, we interview performers who have chosen to dedicate their time to travel across the state of New South Wales to attend their rehearsals and concerts with the Sydney Youth Orchestras.
What motivates them to journey so far? Why are they compelled to leave their towns to take part in the youth orchestra experience? What do they do along the way?
Let’s find out.
Rural commuter Gordon Richter, bassoon
My name is Gordon Richter and I live in Parkes, NSW which is part of Central West NSW. This is my first year as a bassoonist in the Symphonic Wind Orchestra. It takes me close to 10 hours (five there and five back) by car to travel to concerts and rehearsals, and I try to get to rehearsals at least once or twice a month.
I travel so far to be part of SYO because I love playing the bassoon and clarinet. and there are very few orchestras of this level out in my region. Travelling and attending rehearsals are the events that I look forward to most each month.
Normally, we leave at a reasonably early time on the day of rehearsal so most of the time I just sleep. As we get closer to Sydney, I am normally wide awake and am just sitting in the car, listening to the radio, wishing I was in rehearsal.
How can we support young musicians living rurally?
Just give rural musicians more opportunities to be a part of something amazing. If there were more instruments available to hire that are in good condition, more children might want to give it a go. I feel that once people decide to give it a try, they will realise how awesome this experience is. Offering rural children more experiences, such as performing on the Sydney Opera House stage or just touring the state with an orchestra, offer an exhilarating feeling like no other.
I hope to study Music Performance at Sydney Conservatorium of Music in a few years and focus on music every day. Hopefully this might eventually lead to a job internationally in world-class orchestra. I hope to be a part of orchestras around the world and experience these feelings every day.
Advice to fellow commuters
Make time. It’s worth every last second, especially if you are interested in undertaking music as a career. Be a part of an orchestra where you can and take as many opportunities as possible.
I attend Parkes High School and am in Year 11. I first picked up the clarinet in Year 2 and then started learning bassoon in Year 6. I regularly play in orchestras around my region and am always asked to play bassoon (no one else does). I have learnt both clarinet and bassoon from the local woodwind teacher, Justin Screen, for the past seven years.
Last year, I was offered work experience with the SYO and this was definitely one of the highlights of my school year. I attended the SYO summer school earlier this year and from there, I managed to find a seat in SWO.
In the September holidays last year, I toured Europe as part of the West of the Divide ensemble. This tour covered cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, Munich and Prague. I hope to pursue music as a career because I can see what sorts of opportunities it can bring and have seen first-hand where it can take you.
Join more young musicians and register for the Sydney Youth Orchestras Summer School experience – wherever you may live in New South Wales. Applications open until 11 December, more info on the SYO website.