City of Sydney Eisteddfod competition, 12th June, 2012
It seemed a good idea at the time; “enter the String Ensemble into a competition to give it (us) a challenge and purpose”, and at times it seemed almost too huge a challenge, given the changes the ensemble has gone through (older players moving on, etc). But in the end, they rose to it and did amazingly well; I certainly am very proud of what the kids achieved on that day.
Even though there were no categories within which our line-up of performers could be formally accommodated, (5 violins, cello, double bass, trombone and electric keyboard is not a standard combination!) we decided to enter anyway, for the sheer fun and challenge of performing, as well as developing performance skills. In that sense, (and others as well!) the Rosebay String Ensemble is not your average string ensemble; we have the flexibility to approach things in a more creative way, which allows its students to participate, whatever level they are at, be it advanced (relatively) or at a more beginners level, -and we are now starting to move and develop together!
It was only at the event itself that we realised what we were up against; that is, ensembles coming out of very well resourced and established string music programs, from some of Sydney’s most established and resourced private and public schools. The average minimum size of the competing ensembles was twenty, with some up to thirty players or so. We numbered nine (counting myself on the keyboard)!!
The audience was spellbound, and really listened -call me biased, but the work we performed, “On the Edge” also stood out, (I composed it specifically for the String Ensemble) which allowed them to perform, utilising their strengths in rhythmic control, weird effects, ambient groove (the judges certainly acknowledged that in the report) … after the final chord, and the applause died down, we walked off the stage, at first slightly stunned with the realisation of what we had achieved, and then euphoric… what a way to end the term. And now we move on!