Meriden musicians and Year 8 students, Sharon Zhao and Nerissa Du, were selected to a group of the top thirty-five young string players from across the country to participate in the coveted Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) Academy.
Led by renowned ACO violinist, Aiko Goto, the intensive program held at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music involved a week of orchestral rehearsals, sectionals and chamber group rehearsal sessions. Participants were coached and mentored by ACO musicians, building on technical skills, accuracy, ensemble playing, leading and performance style.
Sharon and Nerissa rehearsed an array of repertoire, including Serenade for Strings by Josef Suk, St Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst and Chacony in G minor by Henry Purcell.
It was the second time Sharon had been selected for the program. Last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, she participated virtually. Sharon said meeting talented musicians face-to-face was an incredible experience.
“With restrictions having eased, we were able to make music together again. The experience transformed my confidence as a performer. I loved playing with others who take music seriously and share my passion,” said Sharon.
For Sharon, the most interesting parts of the program were the presentations that delved into what undertaking music as a career can involve.
“It was so inspiring to meet ACO musicians and hear them discuss their own musical journeys. They taught us to cherish experiences like the Academy, as it can be the first step towards becoming a professional musician. I feel now more than ever that I want to pursue music as a career,” she said.
Nerissa agreed the Academy was an invaluable learning experience that has further strengthened her love of performing and refined her chamber music skills.
“What I enjoyed most about the program was making music together. I was quite overwhelmed at the start because of how challenging the repertoire was. However, after practising and rehearsing more, the pieces became fun and easy to play,” said Nerissa.
“I developed skills that I will be able to apply as part of my participation in Meriden’s Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Strings. I would recommend the experience to any young string players. It has inspired me to work harder to achieve my own musical goals,” she said.