The Power of Live Music

We live in an age of Spotify and music on demand, and yet the sublime music experiences exhibiting the talent and hard work of our music students in recent weeks has reminded us of the power of music performed live. The Grammar Singers and Chamber Singers performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir; the Choral Concert featured all choirs from Years 7 to 12 in an exquisite evening of song at St John’s Anglican Cathedral; and on Saturday evening, 13 Grammar girls in the Prossima Program performed alongside Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) musicians in a Latin American Gala, under the baton of internationally renowned conductor, Alondra de la Parra. Tonight, we will have Year 12 girls, in collaboration with professional string quartet, Rue Arts, perform their own compositions to accompany the film Tracks, which tells the story of Robyn Davidson’s trek (as a 26-year-old) from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean in 1977 accompanied by three camels and her dog, Diggity, in the Senior Music Production.

Until the late 19th century, of course, even the most devoted music lover could have expected to hear their favourite piece of music perhaps only three or four times during their lifetime. Today, the ease with which we access music reflects its integral role within our modern culture, but still there remains something particular, often transcendent, about the experience of live performance that simply can’t be captured through technology.

And, while we hear much about decades of research that attests to music’s ability to improve cognitive capacity there is so much more to it. As our Coordinator of Strings, Mr Michael Patterson, wrote after my Speech Day Address last year: ‘I appreciated your message about doing things for the inherent joy or satisfaction. Some teachers advertise music education as a way to “get smarter” or get better NAPLAN scores or to open neural pathways. This is great and may well be true, but I have always thought that making music is an incredible satisfaction and achievement in its own right.’

There was an audible gasp when the Prossima girls walked on to the stage to take their place within the Orchestra on Saturday night. Perhaps the girls’ greatest achievement was that they did not ‘stand out’ from the ensemble, rather, they were at one with it, experiencing those ephemeral moments of performance, live on stage. Amy Doan (11M) captured it beautifully: ‘… this art form was more than just a group of people playing in harmony; it was a revival of centuries worth of elaborate culture and ideologies—a tangible expression of one’s soul. With their ability to leave us speechless and enlightened after every masterpiece, the QSO have had a profound influence on my musical upbringing and I never could have imagined that I would one day be playing on the Concert Hall stage amongst my role models.’

There is so much to be proud of in the girls’ efforts this term, in a myriad of ways, both big and small. I hope that all families enjoy their weekend and the welcome approach of Spring.

Ms Jacinda Euler