Instrumental Music news

Extra rehearsal day

On Saturday 12 February, students in our Senior Ensembles (Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, Chamber Strings, and Chorale) rehearsed in preparation for our upcoming signature event, the International Women’s Day Concert on Friday 4 March at 6 pm.

The extra rehearsal day was set aside due to the necessary cancellation of our Senior Music Camp. It is wonderful, and yet unsurprising, to see how resilient, flexible, and determined our young musicians are to forge through the challenges presented to us. The level of musicianship displayed on the day was extraordinary. Thank you to our Instrumental Music staff and Ensemble directors for their unwavering support and brilliant musicianship in bringing this day together at such short notice.

Year 7 new Music student sign up

This week, our Year 7 students, who expressed an interest in starting a new instrument, had the opportunity to try their hand at playing a variety of Band and String instruments. It is so wonderful to see our young students taking on new challenges. Some truly ‘exotic’ sounds were created, but the students developed a great understanding of how the instruments work, and what it takes to produce quality sounds from them. Our staff were so impressed with the girls’ willingness to experiment across a wide variety of instruments.

After a student has been officially placed on an instrument, parents will be required to complete an Online Enrolment Form. Please do not complete this form until your daughter has been officially placed on an instrument by an Instrumental Music staff member.

Ensemble rehearsals

This week, the Instrumental Music department kicked into high gear with the commencement of all our Intermediate Ensemble rehearsals. Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, Concert Winds, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Big Band, Stage Band, Jazz Ensemble, Little Big Band, Vivaldi Strings, Albinoni Strings, Bartok Strings, Copland Strings, Dvorak Strings, Euphonix, Voices, Vox, Grammar Singers, Encore, All Percussion Ensembles, Guitar Ensemble, Celtic Ensemble, and Gypsy Band, all started rehearsing this week which made for a very musical week around level 1, CLC .

Our Junior Ensembles (Wind Band and Elgar Strings) will be completed and ready to start full rehearsals next week. Students in these ensembles will have heard from staff about rehearsal expectations, days and times.

Week 5 (commencing 21 February)
• All students (Years 7 to 12) continuing lessons
• Ensembles starting rehearsals—Wind Band, Elgar Strings

Upper Intermediate String Festival

On Wednesday 23 February, we will be holding our Upper Intermediate String Festival, which is always a highlight in the calendar for our advancing string students and their families. There are two rehearsals and a concert for this festival. The department will distribute a memo shortly. Some general details are:

  • Monday 21 February: 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm—Rehearsal
  • Wednesday 23 February: 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm—Rehearsal
                                                  6 pm to 7 pm—Concert.

Chang-Yun (Charitie) Chen (12H) and Annabel Wang (10R)

Music Support Group (MSG) Meeting

Our MSG met online for the first time in 2022 on Wednesday 9 February, via Zoom. It was a strong attendance rate with approximately 20 families logging into the meeting. The families had the opportunity to meet and speak with key Instrumental Music staff, who were able to answer any questions. We are deeply appreciative of our volunteers who give of their time to help support our Instrumental Music staff and students throughout the year. The commitment is not onerous, but is invaluable. New members are always welcome and can make contact via email.

The first event that the MSG is assisting is the Upper Intermediate String Festival concert at the Old Museum Building on Wednesday 23 February. Pizzas are being provided to the participants, and we need some parents to help serve to keep everything COVID Safe. If you can assist (5 to 5.45 pm), please sign up via this link. Under the State Government requirements, anyone helping at school events must show proof of vaccination. Please see one of the MSG committee members on arrival to show your green tick.

Composition competition winners

Late last year, three of our current Girls Grammar students won individual composition awards for works they created. The girls very kindly provided us some insight into the process, inspiration, and future directions for their compositional skills. Dorothy Rae (10G), Schuyler Mills (12E) and Charlotte Parsonage (12G) shared their thoughts with Music News this week.

Contemporary Song—Sky Mills for To Be Free
Although it’s slightly embarrassing to admit, the song was inspired by a dream I had where I was living in a universe with all of my favourite fantasy places and characters. As you can imagine, I was a bit disappointed when I awoke to realise that it was all in my head. Throughout the day, and the next few weeks, I found myself holding onto that feeling of wishing that life was more than what we were given—wishing I could fly to avoid school traffic, wishing I could ride dragons, etc.

I was given the opportunity to express these thoughts and feelings during our Year 11 IA3 unit of Identities. For me, creating music is about sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings in ways that can’t be simply put into words. My main focuses were ‘How do I translate my thoughts into a sound? How do I evoke feelings with my music? How do I make it “hit”?’ After experimenting with arpeggios on the piano and humming endless voice notes into my phone, the original electronic pop track came to life quite quickly.

With the help of the Music staff, this track was translated into a full orchestral and choral arrangement to be performed by Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Singers. This took the song to the next level, and really gave it that sense of magic and wonder that the song was written for. I want to give a massive thank you to every staff member and every girl involved in the ensembles. You’ve all made this experience a dream come true.

Composition for String Orchestra—Charlotte Parsonage for Elizabeth For Chamber Orchestra and Solo Cello
I tapped into multiple inspirations when composing Elizabeth. When it came to the style and sound of the piece, I really wanted to write something similar to Peter Gregson’s soundtrack for the film A Little Chaos. So, I decided to use one of my favourite films Pride and Prejudice to base my composition on. As well as Peter Gregson, I was also inspired by Olafur Arnalds’ post-minimalistic style.

I see performing as more of an extension than composing. Composing my own music is what I enjoy most and performing it is a way for me to be able to show people what I’ve done. I see myself as a composer over a performer.

I started composing pop songs in Year 8 and, over the past five years, I have gone through lots of different genres and mediums. Guitar and voice were my ‘roots’ even though I have no formal training in either but then I explored writing multiple different genres for solo piano, cello, Chamber Orchestra, and a few other things. But I’m interested in basically everything and I love the challenge to write in genres I’m not used to, and for instruments that I don’t know how to play.

Composition for Piano—Dorothy Rae for Five Impromptus
I was encouraged by my composition teacher to write a piece inspired by Claude Debussy’s Prelude Livre 1. In my first impromptu, I reflected on this piece as seen in the bell tones, as well as ‘crunchy’ chords. Throughout the rest of the piece, I tried to create variations on this using different tempos and sections of the piano, while keeping the key signature and sound roughly the same. I used ideas from some of my favourite pieces, such as the alternating 6/8 to 3/4 time signature from ‘America’ in West Side Story.

In some ways, I see composition as an extension of my performance skills. In a performance, you have to make musical choices on what sounds best for the piece you are performing. Sometimes, this leads to you having different ideas to the original composer. This inspires me to write my own music, to take autonomy over the music I am creating. In other ways, though, it doesn’t relate to my performing. Sometimes, composing for me is just about what sounds good as I am writing, as opposed to how it would be performed.

I am quite interested in film composition at the moment. Particularly, I find the soundtracks of Lord of the Rings and How to Train Your Dragon particularly inspiring. I would love to learn more about composing for larger ensembles, and storytelling through music. I also want to delve into the world of contemporary music and learn about its different sub-genres and their features.

Dorothy Rae (10G), Schuyler Mills (12E) and Charlotte Parsonage (12G)