For young composers, the opportunity to spend a whole week with an orchestra practising, re-writing and working closely with the conductor is a dream come true.
That is exactly what four young composers have done this week with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Hobart.
It is part of an intense course to hone young Australian talent, according to the director of the Australian Composers’ School Paul Stanhope.
“You probably learn more in a week here with the Tasmanian Symphony than you would learn in a whole degree at a university,” Mr Stanhope said.
The composers have the opportunity to work on their own works with tutors, and the professional conductors and musicians in the orchestra also give feedback.
The youngest composer at the school, Alex Turley from Perth, is 22. He has been composing since he was 10.
“It’s always interesting to see how dots on a page can be transformed into sound, and often it happens in a way you don’t expect it to,” Mr Turley said.
“I think for a lot of us at this school, things sound a little bit different than they did in our head, [but] some things sound exactly the same or even better.”
Another one of the composers, Melbourne woman Louisa Trewartha, was making notes on her score in pencil as the orchestra played.
The 28-year-old has written a piece of music that is an Australian take on the children’s nursery rhyme Jack and Jill.
With professional musicians in the orchestra offering feedback, it is a good opportunity for her to refine her score.
“I’ve been learning a lot this week, not just from the tutors but also from the other students and Elena [Schwarz] our conductor,” Ms Trewartha said.
“And also the musicians, they are extremely friendly and go out of their way to let you know how you can improve something.”
Musicians offer feedback to improve students’ scores
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra runs the composers’ school in order to foster new young talent.
The school’s conductor, Elena Schwarz, was a student herself a few years ago at the orchestra’s conductor school. Now she is the assistant conductor.
“It’s always a wonderful feeling to receive a new score,” Ms Schwarz said.
“I always take it as if it is a direct message from the composer, and I study and try to understand what the composer’s message is.”
This week Ms Schwarz has been conducting the orchestra with the young composers standing behind her watching and listening in.
They stop every few bars to discuss and improve the works that will be performed in a private concert tonight.
Mr Stanhope said the school was ensuring Australians had a voice in the world of classical music.
“This beautiful art, or orchestral music, it provides a fantastic backdrop to who we are as a nation and creativity really is at the centre,” he said.