Posted by Amy Whyte
Monday 14th July, 2014

Waking up on the 37th floor overlooking the Brisbane River each morning is definitely not a bad way to start your day! We have been having a ball in sunny Brisbane - it barely feels like winter!

It never ceases to amaze me how AYO musicians seem to have an inbuilt sixth sense for finding the best coffee hot spots in every city they visit, with no exception to this season in Brisbane. You are guaranteed to bump into someone you know at Merriweather Cafe behind QPAC, due to the mouthwatering breakfast menu and great coffee; or spot a squabble of woodwind players at Greys on Grey during the morning break.

This social bonding however, is a key part of an AYO Season. I definitely find that as we become closer in a social setting, our ability to respond musically is reflected in the rehearsal studio and on stage. 

The first week of an AYO Season is always exciting and great fun, being reacquainted with friends from all over Australia and tackling the new works together as a reunified team. The rehearsals can also be pretty challenging both physically and mentally, especially when faced with 7-hour rehearsal days (snack packs have been a necessary boost to maintain focus). We couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring and driven conductor to guide us through Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony.

Working with Fabian Russell was just incredible. The amount of energy and musical dedication he brought to the podium each and every rehearsal made such a difference, giving us an amazing rhythmic foundation that set us in good stead for the arrival of Simone Young.

There was such an air of nervous energy and excitement buzzing around the orchestra in anticipation of our first rehearsal with Simone Young. The strings were double checking their tricky technical passage in the Tchaikovsky, the woodwinds scouring their reed cases to find “the one” and the brass were simply going buzz crazy!

What an absolutely brilliant musician and conductor! Within our first rehearsal the orchestra was transformed, opening our ears to a whole new musical world. Her role as Music Director of the Hamburgische Staatsoper shone through her conducting immensely, encouraging us to relate our phrasing to that of an opera singer and focus on the inner dialogue between instruments - what a difference it made!

I have absolutely loved working on Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony with Simone Young. She taught us all a lesson never to forget: Singing is the basic of all good music making. Being one of the greatest opera composers, Tchaikovsky certainly felt the desire to bring this operatic quality to his symphonies, especially the sixth. As his final symphonic work, he poured his whole life into the symphony - with moments of sheer joy, pain, love, a lopsided waltz, a (seemingly never ending) march and finally concluding without a happy ending… it’s amazing to play!

- Amy Whyte (Principal Clarinet)