AHS hosts Australian symphony


The Scotch College Symphony performs “Cello Concerto Op. 104 in B Minor – 1st Movement” by Dvorak on Jan. 13, 2020.

The Philharmonic Orchestra had the unique opportunity of hosting a joint concert with the Scotch College Symphony Orchestra from Melbourne, Australia on Monday, Jan. 13.

The concert consisted of three pieces played by the Philharmonic Orchestra: Book Green Suite MVT 1 by Gustav Holst; Carol Of The Bells/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Leontovych, which was arranged by Matt Riley and featured a solo played by Anabelle Lee; and La Cascara by Jeremy Woolstenhulme, with solos played by Janine Impat, Melissa Prada Quinatoa, Caryl Pagulayan and Dylan Reid, supported by percussions from Connor Yi and Timo Aav.

Seven pieces were played by Scotch College’s Symphony Orchestra: La Tombeau De Couperin by Revel; Danse Bacchanale by Saint-Sanens; Cello Concerto Op.104 in B minor – 1st movement by Dvorak, with cello soloist Lincoln Poon; Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat by Liszt, with soloist Samuel Zong; Four Scottish Dance by Arnold; Concierto De Aranjuez by Rodrigo, with soloist Yuki Goh on the harp; and Concerto for two clarinets in E-flat by Kromer, with soloists Tom An and Richard Liu. 

The opportunity presented itself a year ago thanks to a company called World Projects that was setting up a U.S. tour for Australian symphonies. They reached out to Annadale’s orchestra teacher, Larisa Marian, asking her to host.

“I thought about it for a little bit and decided to say yes,” Marian, said. “I was a little bit worried about the timing because it was right after winter break and right after another concert, but I thought it would be a great opportunity for us.”

It wasn’t just a great opportunity for AHS, however, according to the Australian symphony’s conductor, John Ferguson, The boys at Scotch College got as much of a learning experience.

“The main reason we come on tours like this is for our boys to play some music and meet other kids like themselves who also play music with a culture that’s similar and yet very different,” Ferguson said. “In Australia, we’re a long way away from anywhere, and you can sort of forget the world is a bigger place if we’re not careful, so it’s really important to get out there and see what other people are doing and understand the culture .”

Throughout his 25 years teaching at Scotch College, Ferguson has toured several places, including Spain, England, France, Belgium, and parts of Asia.

“I think travel helps broaden the minds, so they get to see a lot of things,” he said. “But playing the music gives it much more focus than someone simply going on a holiday. We don’t come to places expecting people to come along to hear us and see us show off. It’s much more about wanting to join with other people and have them understand a bit of what we do and give our boys a chance to understand what they do.”

While there certainly are cultural benefits in interacting with the symphony in Australia, the musical benefits are far greater.

Despite the social interactions that went on between the students from both schools for most of the afternoon, there was still a concert at the end of the night that showcased the talents of both orchestras and allowed the students and teachers to learn something from each other. 

“As musicians, we learn music in the same way we learn a language: our ears play the part,” Marian said. “For me, listening to the pieces the Scotch orchestra played inspired me, and it made me want to go to practice. Sometimes when you hear somebody play a certain way, it may pull up your ability to play as well just by listening to that person.”

It wasn’t just Marian who was affected by this, however. As the Philharmonic students watched the passionate performance of the Scotch College, they became just as entranced and committed. 

“I think both orchestras learned a lot from each other,” senior violin player Janine Impat said. “We had the opportunity during rehearsal to be conducted by Mr. Ferguson and it helped me see the music from a different perspective and focus on some little things that I think made us sound a lot better at the concert. Listening to their school also helped us catch in some really good qualities their orchestra had that I think we should focus on as assessment gets closer.”

Ferguson also enjoyed the Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance, complimenting Marian for her form of conducting the orchestra and Lee for a fantastic solo, while encouraging the school to focus more on the orchestra. 

“One of the parents told me that the school tends to focus mainly on its athletics, and I am hoping that seeing a bunch of boys turn up to play music will encourage other boys to turn up and play music,” he said. 

The Scotch College will be on tour until January 26, with pending visits to New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles.