Ballarat Grammar students performing with MSO Concertmaster, Dale Barltrop and members of the MSO.

Dale Barltrop and members of the MSO workshopping with local secondary students of Ballarat. Image by: Lucy Rash

On the Road with the MSO

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“Incredible. Just incredible. I’ve never seen kids so engaged,” murmurs an usher in Horsham’s recently renovated Town Hall.

This is, of course, top notch feedback for the team of more than 50 MSO musicians, production and admin staff on tour to Ballarat, Horsham, Hamilton and Warrnambool this week. For many in this cohort of more than 400 children, this is the first time they’ve experienced the sheer scale and power of a live symphony orchestra.

Nonetheless, we’re committed to ensuring it’s not the last.

Boarding the bus to Hamilton is the perfect time to reflect upon the first half of MSO’s five-day concert leg of our 2017 Regional Tour. At the midpoint, we’ve engaged with over 2,000 people including 817 students and teachers, 1,082 members of the general public, and more than 100 secondary school-aged students who had direct access to the expertise of world-class musicians – including members of the MSO, touring soloists Michael Collins and Lloyd Van’t Hoff, and presenters Nick Bochner, Thea Rossen and Eric Avery – during a series of curated masterclasses in Ballarat.

This concert tour is the centerpiece of the MSO’s regional touring activity in 2017 following a series of pre-concert workshops with local primary schools held in the first week of September.

The MSO will perform one final regional Victorian concert in 2017 – An Evening with the MSO at Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo on 2 December.

As all educators and community advocates alike will know, true engagement is a two-way street.

“It’s a treat for the orchestra to be working so closely with the community as we tour,” says MSO’s Assistant Principal Cello, Nick Bochner, one of three presenters for the orchestra’s schools concerts.

“We get a real kick out of performing for audiences, but getting to work with local students and teachers, as well as meet residents of the communities we visit adds an extra dimension to our enjoyment of music.”

We as a company also recognise the value of shaping these performances to the needs and interests of communities.

Andrew Dale, Head of Music at Ballarat Grammar, kindly offered up the school’s music facilities as host venue for the orchestra’s series of masterclasses and workshops held in Ballarat on Tuesday.

“This was a stunning and exhilarating experience for our students. The masterclasses run by MSO members for local secondary students from Ballarat Grammar, Phoenix P-12 Community College, Ballarat High School and Damascus College were exceptionally productive and well-tailored to meet the needs of all who attended.”

“I couldn’t speak more highly of the organisation by MSO staff in helping to set up such a wonderful opportunity for our students. They’re already looking forward to future opportunities and are still abuzz with excitement!”

While our schools concerts have attracted hundreds of students and teachers, we’ve also welcomed leaners of all ages along to our evening concerts featuring works by Dvořák, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and our 2017 Composer in Residence, Elena Kats-Chernin.

It’s an important reminder that seeds of inspiration can be sowed at any time in a person’s life. As Thea Rossen so warmly offered to attendees of this morning’s concert, “we hope you enjoyed your first performance with the MSO! It won’t be your last”.

One thing’s for sure: music takes you places. We couldn’t be happier that we’re on the road with one of the world’s greatest orchestras.