Ashleigh Robertson

AYO Arts Administration 2010

Orchestral Management Alumna and flautist Ashleigh Robertson is a co-Founder of the West Melbourne Schools Orchestra, which provides young musicians in West Melbourne a place to play good music and socialise with other like-minded students outside of the school environment. Ashleigh has performed as a soloist with various orchestras including the Essendon Symphony Orchestra and has toured with the Australian Youth Band and Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra - performing in Italy, China, Malaysia, USA and Canada, with venues including Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.

Aside from performing, Ashleigh has a passion for arts administration. She has worked as an ensemble manager for Melbourne Youth Music, personnel manager for Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra and been on the Australian Youth Band’s committee. Ashleigh is also a volunteer at 3MBS, taking on roles as a presenter, in the music library, backstage, and as producer for ‘The Talent’.

Tell us about your work with the West Melbourne Schools Orchestra and 3MBS
Growing up in Tullamarine, there wasn’t any classical music in the Western suburbs; to train and perform I had to travel all the time. My friend Jenny Going received a grant from the Rosemary and John Hopkins Award for Conductors to start an orchestra in the Western Suburbs. We used the grant to start the West Melbourne Schools Orchestra from scratch. It started in April 2016 and we now have 25 young people from 14 different schools. We rehearse in Footscray, working with young people who don’t have a big music program at their school. Our 5 year plan is to start a string group and a jazz band.

I'm also involved as a 3MBS presenter and producer. One of the highlights includes 'The Talent', where university students perform live on radio and industry professionals give them feedback. The musicians get feedback on how to get their names out there, media training, interview skills, how to promote themselves, etc. I also enjoy working at outside broadcasts, including at the ANAM Chamber Music Finals and at Government House's Open Day. The buzz of a live broadcast is incredible.

What stands out as your best moment with the AYO family?
During the AYO National Music Camp Arts Administration program, the final concert there had a really complicated stage move. It was my first time doing an orchestral management role and it was a big deal because ABC Classic FM was recording the concert live. We had to get all the students on stage and off and watching them was fantastic - it was such a relief seeing everything click into place!

You’re also an AYO supporter; what motivated you to donate to the AYO?
I know how expensive it can be to run AYO programs. With the West Melbourne Schools Orchestra we’re in desperate need of sponsorship so I understand that even a small amount is extremely useful.