Acoustics are integral for any musical performance and small regional centres around Bendigo are impressing Orchestra Victoria performers.
Orchestra Victoria has been in Bendigo since last Friday for their annual Bendigo Festival with 17 performances to be held across the eight day event.
After a pop-up performance at the Bendigo Writers Festival, orchestra players hit the road to play at Mia Mia’s Mechanic's Institute and Goornong’s Memorial Hall last weekend.
They play at the Elmore Memorial Hall on Tuesday at 7pm followed by St John’s Church in Heathcote on Thursday at 2pm.
Orchestra Victoria artistic director Nicolette Fraillon said this year more “small town” venues had asked about hosting a performance as part of the Bendigo Festival.
“We’re in our fourth year now and venues have been asking if we can come after hearing what we’ve been doing,” she said.
“A lot of the smaller communities around the Bendigo area are farming communities who work during the day and can't come to (a weekday) session. So we expanded to meet the needs of those communities because it's really lovely that they want us playing.”
Ms Fraillon was impressed by the well-preserved venues.
“We are playing in these beautiful little venues, mechanics institutes and halls that are like they are built for chamber music,” she said.
“It gives you a real sense of intimacy and often is better than you want it to sound. In Goornong, we played and the sound was so big and resonate because the hall is all wood, with a wooden floor.
“Particularly for stringed instruments, it makes the sound really warm and beautiful.”
Bendigo Festival performances will also feature in the Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo Library, the Long Gully Uniting Church, Star Cinema, Central Deborah Gold Mine and Bendigo TAFE.
“I look forward to all of them. The art gallery is always incredible, I love the library because it is a great community (venue) and the Star Cinema program is a good one with opera-based chamber music before an interval where we get popcorn and head back in for film Florence Foster Jenkins.”
On Monday, Orchestra Victoria visited Bendigo’s cathedrals with performances in St Paul’s and Sacred Heart.
Festival’s final concert to feature Australian first
Orchestra Victoria’s final concert of this year’s Bendigo Festival will feature an Australian first.
Ten-year-old child prodigy Christian Li, from Melbourne, will perform Mendellsohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor in Australia for the first time.
Ms Fraillon said Li is destined to be one of the world’s great performers.
“He is gobsmackingly good. He's tiny but when plays it’s like listening to a really mature musician,” she said.
“He hasn't done a concerto like this before in Australia. We're first ones to get him to perform with us and Bendigo is first place he's doing something with us.”
The finale concert is at Ulumbarra on Saturday also features works by Rachmaninoff and Vaughan-Williams as well as Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Tickets are $35.
Ahead of the concert, Orchestra Victoria will hold a free open dress rehearsal at Ulumbarra from 11am on Saturday.
Orchestra Victoria’s education program expands to include 75 Bendigo students
Young musicians from Bendigo will get first hand experience in performing with and learning from Orchestra Victoria musicians as part of the On the Move program.
With 75 Bendigo students taking part, the program has expanded this year forcing the orchestra to go from the Capital Theatre stage to Ulumbarra for their On the Move performance on Thursday night.
“The first year was about 40 or 50 students. We only just squished everyone on the Capital stage last year and when we spoke to David Lloyd and his team, they said ‘why don’t you have Ulumbarra?’,” Ms Fraillon said.
Ms Fraillon said there was strong music programs in Bendigo.
“There's a really strong, really good bunch of music teachers in and around Bendigo in the school systems,” she said.
“They have been working with us for 15 years and that's paid off. Part of the idea of combining On the Move with the festival is to have the kids see the rest of the orchestra performing and able to watch the people who have been mentoring them. It sends a strong message of this is where you can get.
“We have people in Orchestra Victoria who are casual players from Bendigo that came through On the Move program.”
Aside from honing their classical music skills, Ms Fraillon said there were many benefits for students who learned to play a musical instrument.
“It's not only about music being a career. It's about the love of music. Playing music in a group teaches a lot of life skills like team sports does,” she said.
“It's about how you work together putting the needs of individual behind the greater needs of team. You learn when to step up, when to step back and how to collaborate. They are great life skills.”
Ms Fraillon said research showed learning classical music was a benefit to developing both sides of the brain.
“No one is born loving classical music. You have to be introduced to it,” she said.
“Research around the world confirms that the study of classical music in particular stimulates the left and right sides of the brain in equal measure more than any other activity.
“Children who engage in classical music can progress faster in other learning. You have the creative side being stimulated as well as the mathematical and logical skills. Classical music demands both.
Orchestra Victoria’s Free On the Move student orchestral performance is at Ulumbarra Theatre on Thursday at 6.30pm.
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