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Tune In - 2007

Focus on MYO players

A number of long-term MYO players have achieved considerable music success & have been invited to share this with you. Sadly, they are all moving on in 2008.

'The Dominoes'

'The Dominoes' Chamber Music Group was formed this year under the original name of 'Peter’s Group'. Why exactly we were called this was self explanatory - Peter wanted a violin quartet! Peter, Alena, Danielle and I turned up at our first rehearsal with no music to play. It is incredibly hard to find suitable and fun music for an all-violin group! We approached Christchurch composer Eric Biddington to write something for us.

While we were waiting (and one can't rush composers!) we started playing Rameau's Opera Suite which is a group of works taken from different well-known operas of Rameau and arranged by 'Les Quatre Violons' in 1998. No sooner had we learnt the notes and were able to actually make it to the end (more or less) together, the parts were all swapped around so everyone suddenly had new notes to learn and serious rehearsing began. An hour-long workshop with Katrin Eichorst-Squire organised by Chamber Music NZ helped focus us.

Our first performance opportunity was the Manawatu Performing Arts Competitions so we desperately needed a 'proper' name! We tried 'The Rameauns', but couldn't really relate to the punk band of the same name, so in the end 'The Dominoes' seemed to stick! Thanks to the person who left the half-eaten Dominoes pizza in our dressing room at Reach for the Stars. We found it!

We won the Regional Chamber Music New Zealand Competition in June and also Gold at the Manawatu Secondary Schools Chamber Music Competitions in July playing the 'Opera Suite' and 'Glass Boats' (2007) by Eric Biddington.,/p>

We would like to thank our coach, Pamela Dowsett, and also Karen Hume (outfits) Maria Joe (workshop venue host) and my Mum and Dad. All four of us are leaving Palmerston North next year but we know we are leaving Manawatu chamber music in the good hands of all you others coming up. Have fun as we did! - Alicia McNeill

The members of 'The Dominoes' are:

Alicia McNeill, Peter Cui, Danielle Joe, and Alena Hume
Below are profiles of these players, except for Peter Cui whose profile was published in an earlier 'Tune-In'.

Alicia McNeill

I suppose it would have been quite hard for me not to have been a 'muso' – my parents' lives seemed to revolve around music and I clearly remember the room in Hamilton where Mum used to teach violin. The decision for me to learn violin, however, was purely my own. Soon after Alexandra arrived we moved to Palmerston North. I was three and not too long afterward I met Danielle at Pre-school. When she and her sister turned up for violin lessons I wondered where my violin was. Around the same time, Alena and her sister started arriving for lessons as well. I remember mastering "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" aged about four. I wanted to play a concert for the birds outside. Mum, however, thought that there would be a high chance of me dropping the violin on the concrete, so I was denied my first concert.

There were, as it happened, many more concerts to follow. I started school, William arrived and just as exciting, a piano arrived tied to a trailer from my Great Aunt – all the way from Coromandel. I began learning piano with Liz Locke. She introduced me to the Manawatu Performing Arts Competitions by the time I was seven. I was firmly a "muso".

After several years down the back of the violins in the Training Orchestra conducted by Mr Schwabe, I joined the Manawatu Youth Orchestra when I was ten. This was more or less the minimum age at the time and it was conducted by … Mr Schwabe.

At the beginning of Intermediate School I started the bassoon "just because" and immediately joined the Training Orchestra again. The year after, I auditioned for first violin in MYO and got in as a second bassoon. That was when I found that if you could even get a noise out of a bassoon, you were asked to join all sorts of groups, at school and in the community, (Manawatu Concert Band). It was not all bassoon, however. By this stage I had got to High School and was playing violin in the PNGHS String Group and in my first Boys' High/Girls' High production – Oklahoma.

High school brought many opportunities including Big Sings and joining New Zealand Secondary Schools Orchestra in Christchurch when I was in the fourth form. By the time I was seventh form I had worked my way up from the back of the first violins to assistant concert-master, to first bassoon and finally soloist in Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante.

I could go on for pages about the amazing music experiences throughout NZ I have had (in and around netball, soccer and reading). Thanks to all those teachers and conductors who gave me those opportunities.

From my first music camp when I was eleven to my many Chamber Music Competitions, from Concert Band Festivals to other competitions and community concerts for pre-schoolers to old people’s homes, one point is clear - music can take you to many places, introduce you to many people of all ages and be so rewarding - despite (or because of) all those many, many long hours of practice - Alicia McNeill

Alena Hume

I started playing violin at the age of 3 after watching my sister play. My first teacher was Keryn Aveling-Rowe. Keryn is a role model for me because she was only 16 when she taught me. After 6 months I went to Marise McNeill. She taught me for 12 years and I would like to thank her for all that she has done for me. These days Pamela Dowsett teaches me and has for the last one and a half years. I also had piano lessons from Liz Locke for 10 years.

Over the years I have been involved in many school productions and choirs. I really enjoy playing in chamber music groups because I have learnt so much about music from the different groups I have been in. I joined MYO in year 6 and have been in it ever since. The MYO has provided me with many opportunities which include the many concerts and trips away. I would like to commend John Schwabe on his commitment to the orchestra.

One of the highlights of learning music is being able to pass on the knowledge. Two years ago I attended two training courses to learn some teaching methods. Teaching is so much fun and it is great to see others learn and enjoy music as I have. If you know of anyone who is considering learning a musical instrument, encourage them to do so as it may turn in to a life long love.

I think music has shaped the person I am today. I can barely go anywhere with out my iPod or a tune in my head. I never regret taking those first steps into the musical world. Next year I will be studying Civil Engineering at Canterbury University. Even though my studies do not lead to a musical career, I will still continue playing when the opportunities arise. - Alena Hume

Danielle Joe

I began learning the violin when I was 4½ with Marise McNeill and she taught me for a further 11 years. After I had passed Grade 8, I changed teachers and now I learn from Pamela Dowsett. I joined the Manawatu Youth Orchestra in 1997 (after 2 years with the Saturday Music Orchestra). I began at the back of the Second Violins with my sister Tracey, and progressed through the First Violins where I now sit in the front desk.

I have also been a member of the NZ Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra (Christchurch) 2004-2007 and this year I had the privilege to take the role of Deputy Concertmaster in the National Schools Orchestra held in Auckland in July. I am a Performing Arts captain at Awatapu College, part of the Chamber Music Group 'The Dominoes', and I'm currently preparing for an ATCL Recital exam on violin.

Next year I plan to study music at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington. I've really enjoyed the opportunities that MYO has given me - the combined weekends with Wellington and Hawkes Bay as well as rehearsals with the NZSO, not to mention meeting and playing with other young musicians in the community. - Danielle Joe

Reach for the Stars

'Reach for the Stars' is a talent quest sponsored and organised by the local Rotary Club every two years. The competition is divided into three groups - Junior aged 8-11, Intermediate aged 12-14 and Senior aged 15-18. Each group is then subdivided into group performance and solo. I entered into three groups, PNBHS OK Chorale, my quartet ‘The Dominoes’ and myself. We had the preliminary round on the weekend of 5th of May. There were all sort of performances: singing, dancing, instrumental, drama even poetry reading.

Anyway, that was a busy weekend. Towards the end of the following week, we heard back from the organisers as to who had made it into the finals. I was stoked to find that my quartet and I had reached the finals. This event was on Saturday the 26th of May, with a group rehearsal the night before (which explained why I wasn’t at orchestra that night). We had to learn Reach for the Stars by S club 7 yea… Anyway, the finals night was pretty cool. There were so many wonderful performances, some were cute, some were funny, some were… interesting.

My performances went as planned… to some degree. The Dominoes played very well for our 1st public performance. The prize-giving part was probably the most exciting part, apart from the fact the judges couldn't make up their mind fast enough and we had to sing Reach for the Stars more than enough times, just to fill in the space. I came first in the senior solo, and Danielle Joe 2nd. Unfortunately our quartet didn't impress the judges as much. All in all, it was good fun and I would recommend it to everyone. - Peter Cui

Adam McCoy - Double Bass

Like most others my musical education started in primary school in the form of learning "Hot cross buns" on the recorder. My repertoire slowly expanded to include "Ode to Joy", "Three Blind Mice" and "Greensleeves". After primary school I put my dreams of becoming a professional recorder player on hold. I would not have any contact with an instrument till my first year of high school.

To cut a long story short I wanted to play (although it pains me deeply to admit this) the violin, but the Itinerant music teacher Ms Sasha Routh (thankfully) had other ideas and suggested the double bass instead. Barely before I could read music I was thrust into the Saturday Music Orchestra. At first it was a struggle but it slowly became easier to read the notes & keep up with the rest of the orchestra and when I became more confident, completely ignore the dynamics and play as loudly as possible!

After two years in the Saturday Music Orchestra I successfully auditioned for MYO and was also asked to join the Sinfonia. In my third year of playing I auditioned for the NZSSSO and the following year for the NSO and got in each time. I was principal bass in both orchestras. Just this year I successfully auditioned for the NYO (National Youth Orchestra) which takes place from the 24th of August and tours NZ from the 29th to September 4th. I am eagerly anticipating the experience.

Last year in my fourth year of playing the bass I sadly stop learning from Ms Routh and instead started to get lessons with the co–principal bassist of the NZSO in Wellington. With her help I successfully sat grade 8 Double Bass last year. I also learn from the principal Bassist of the APO because I received the "Trust Secondary Schools Scholarship" which entails me to do so, as well as play two concerts with the APO. Next year I will either study at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington or the School of Music in Auckland (I’ve been offered the use of a $25,000 bass if I go to Auckland!).

Lastly I would like to make mention of three people who I feel have had a major impact on my musical "journey". Firstly Ms Routh, - who knows, if it wasn’t for her, what instrument I would be playing! I will always be thankful to her for giving me a fantastic grounding in the instrument. Secondly I would like to thank Marise McNeill. For four years she has been coming into Boys' High on Tuesday lunch times to take our chamber music ensembles. The skills I have learnt from these lunch times are invaluable! And last but not least Mr. Schwabe. I am absolutely positive my progress would not have been as quick as it was, if it were not for his wise influence. - Adam McCoy

NZSSSO - Christchurch 2007

On Monday the 2nd of July, 80 young musicians from around the country made their way to the first rehearsal of the Christchurch New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra, otherwise known as the NZSSSO. Nine of these musicians were from the Manawatu area: Peter Cui, 1st violin; Sarah Henderson, trumpet; Anna Hoek-Sims, 2nd violin; Alena Hume, 1st violin; Danielle Joe, 1st violin; Adam McCoy, double bass; Alexandra McNeill, oboe; Alicia McNeill, bassoon; Samara O’Neill, 1st violin.

Like the previous three years, the course was held at Christchurch Boys’ High School but this year we had a different conductor, Kenneth Young who is a much respected New Zealand conductor. The pieces we rehearsed were the Candide Overture, by Bernstein, Norwegian Dances, by Grieg, Sinfonietta Concerto Nr. 105, by Haydn, Ring Around the Moon Suite, by the late David Farquhar, Pavane by Faure and Karelia Suite Op 11 by Sibelius. They were all challenging pieces with the Farquhar being a collective favourite. The soloists in the Haydn included Alicia McNeill.

The course, which lasted 6 days, included a mixture of sectionals and full orchestra rehearsals. Monday to Thursday rehearsals went from 9-5 making them very long days but with the lunch trips to nearby Riccarton Mall the days went past quickly. We were given the morning off on Friday leaving us time to celebrate Adam’s birthday. Friday night was the orchestra’s social evening so after having pizza for dinner we left for the Aurora Centre for the opening night of the musical "The High School Musical". Even though there wasn’t a live band, many of the younger members enjoyed the show. It brought back lots of memories of the many school musicals that everyone had been involved in.

Saturday night was the concert and even though there were a number of highly competitive events in Christchurch that night, the audience was a reasonable size and highly appreciative.

After four years in the orchestra, I highly recommend the course. It’s surprising how everyone has similar interests which makes the course a great opportunity to make friends with musicians from all around the country. - Alena Hume

National Schools Orchestra - Auckland 2007

The National Schools Orchestra was held in Auckland, Sunday 8th – Friday 13th of July during the second week of the holidays. The repertoire for this course was David Hamilton’s ‘Zarya’, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, Raiders of the Lost Ark (Indiana Jones theme track) by John Williams and Dvorak’s Symphony No.9 “From the New World”. This course was organised by Lee Farley, and our conductor for the week was Owen Clarke – an amusing and experienced conductor and Barrett Hocking was the amazing trumpet soloist.

I admit I was quite nervous before the first rehearsal, sitting under the conductor’s baton, and having to co-lead a section was quite daunting, but the first rehearsal went surprisingly well as the orchestra settled into the exciting music. For the first four days we had sectionals, where we worked in our instrumental groups and polished up our parts. We had a number of talks from members of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra about orchestral leadership, a career talk and performance logistics. One night we split up into a string orchestra and concert band to sight-read some music. We then had a full orchestra read-through of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5, Mars (from The Planets) by Holst and Star Wars film music.

Members who lived outside Auckland had the choice to get billeted or to stay at Bamber House – a backpackers, who gave us a whole house for the week. Many of the Manawatu members chose to stay there; it was a good way of meeting other members of the orchestra. Organised events were also arranged – we had a Laser Strike evening, and some people went to watch an Opera. The week concluded on Friday night with a public concert in the Auckland Town Hall to celebrate our hard work. It was a highly valuable and enjoyable week, to meet and play in a different orchestral environment. I would definitely recommend this course to the MYO members for next year.

Participants from the Manawatu were: Peter Cui (violin), Sarah Henderson (trumpet), Danielle Joe (violin), Adam McCoy (double bass), Samara O’Neill (violin) and Chris Wild (tuba). - Danielle Joe

Combined Youth Orchestras Workshop

On the afternoon of Friday the 27th of April, the Manawatu Youth Orchestra headed off for the 3rd annual Combined Youth Orchestras Workshop, this year in Havelock North. Once we arrived we were straight into it, with the first of several combined rehearsals at the local intermediate. After a pizza dinner it was back to the camp and lights out!

In the early hours of the next morning we awoke and got ready for a full day of music. We were all quite excited, so after returning to the intermediate we launched into another combined rehearsal. This was followed by a much anticipated tea break.

After this the group split into the three regional orchestras: the Hastings Youth Orchestra conducted by Sue Melville, the Wellington Youth Sinfonietta conducted by Michael Vinten and the Manawatu Youth Orchestra conducted by our very own John Schwabe. Shortly after was lunch, and then we reassembled for yet another mass rehearsal. Each section was then introduced to an experienced player from various groups around the country, who would be taking them for a two hour sectional. Some of these tutors taught us some very handy tips and tricks for our future playing.

After a penultimate combined rehearsal it was back to the camp for a shared BBQ between the three orchestras, and some light entertainment in the form of some humorous videos and civilised conversation. After several hours of this joyous activity it was time to hit the hay, as we needed our rest for the big day ahead.

On the morning of the third and final day it was time for a quick clean up and farewell to our beloved home for the past two nights. The concert was due to begin that afternoon at the Hastings Opera House, so there was time for each orchestra to run through their programme and for one final combined rehearsal.

Each orchestra had its chance to show off their stuff before celebrating the weekend with a tremendous combined performance. The weekend was highly successful, and it's safe to say each player gained priceless experience from their fellow players. We are all counting down until the next one! - 2 Wind Players (who prefer to remain anonymous!)

MYO String Scholarship recipient - 2007, Thomas Walton, viola

Thomas writes:
I was born on the 29th September 1988 in Auckland. I grew up there with a younger brother and an older sister. Both also play instruments: my brother, Ken, plays the cello and piano, and my sister, Nicola plays the clarinet. My father plays the violin and did so regularly until the family came along. He was in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra that made a trip to China fairly soon after it was opened up. My dads’ brother, Mark, plays the clarinet as well.

At the age of 5 my siblings and I started to learn the recorder, at the same time learning how to read music and the basic musical concepts. At the age of 8 I decided, probably as my father played the violin, to start learning the violin. My first music ensemble was a recorder group in the APPA programme; I did that for two years until picking up the violin and then moving onto the orchestra, out of the many different musical groups they hosted each year. I also joined the orchestra in primary school when I took up the violin (my primary school was Epsom Normal Primary School). At Auckland Normal Intermediate I also joined the orchestra there, while also still doing APPA. Not too much happened at A.N.I. I continued with my violin lessons from a tutor.

I then went to Auckland Grammar School. I also joined the orchestra there for the duration of my 5 year stay. During this time I went on two overseas trips with the orchestra - to Singapore, in 2003, my 4th form, and to Japan in 2005, my 6th form.

It was 2004 when I found out about the New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra, now called the National Schools Orchestra, run by the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra. I had recently taken up the viola at the request of a community orchestra I was in, as they didn’t have any viola players at that time. I was then told by an A.P.O. member, that the NZSSSO as it was called then, was short on violas, and would I like to come along. So I did.

Earlier I had joined a community orchestra called the Aotea Youth Symphony Orchestra, and before that I was in the preceding junior orchestra. Both my sister and my brother are still in the AYS, as we call it. I couldn't continue with it as I came down to Palmerston North. Anyway, back to the National Schools Orchestra. I continued to participate in it for as long as I was able, up to my 7th form. Also, the very next summer I joined the APO Summer Music School, which is a week-long programme for all ages to teach people about playing in an orchestra, also to play with some APO musicians and most of all to have a great time with music. I continue to participate in the Summer music school.

In my 7th form several opportunities occurred. I applied for the NZSO mentor programme without the expectation of being accepted, and a friend had to leave from a chamber group in a programme run at Auckland University. Well, I got accepted for the NZSO mentor programme, and I was asked to take her place in the string quartet. While it was unfortunate for her, she had just received a substantial scholarship at an overseas music academy, so no one lost out, I suppose.

The chamber group was great, as at each practice we would have a different tutor teaching us about chamber music and how to work as a small group better. The NZSO gave me a very nice opportunity to play with the NZSO that year, something that was just fantastic, especially as we did my favourite Symphony, Dvoraks’ 9th symphony - The New World Symphony.

Jumping around a bit, as everyone in my family played an instrument, Mum played recorder for a bit. We would use what instruments we had to create a chamber group in which we would play to our relations around Christmas time when we went on trips to see both sides of the family. When we were younger we would play as a group with the odd solo piece from us kids, and as we got older it would just be one or two more advanced pieces from each of us as it was fairly hard to arrange music for two violins, a cello, and a clarinet. Every year we would go on a car trip to see both my mums’ parents and her side of the family and my dads’ parents and his side of the family - well, the ones in New Zealand anyway. Each year we would also go to a new place in New Zealand that we hadn’t gone before, so these trips were very exciting.

Outside of music I have never done too much. My parents pressed me into playing sports for a bit, something that when I look back on, I enjoyed. I did a couple of years of club football, before moving onto 2 years of tennis and then 2 of cricket. During my intermediate school years I became interested in Archery as a sport, but never really did anything with that. I also joined the orienteering team at secondary school until I realised it was just taking up too much of my spare time. I have an amateur interest in computers and putting them together from their parts, building my own computer a couple of years ago.

This year I started an Applied Science degree, majoring in Agriculture. I had decided that music wasn’t the path I wanted to take to a job level and so decided on something else I really enjoyed. My mum and her siblings currently own a farm half an hours’ drive from Wanganui. This would be where we would spend a decent amount of our holiday time, as my mum’s parents still live there and so does an uncle, who runs the farm. We were sometimes asked to help out on big musters and other stuff, and this is where my decision to work on the land came from. Lastly, I am currently playing in the Manawatu Sinfonia, and I have just applied for the 2008 APO Summer Music School.


MYO Attendance Certificates
The following MYO players were awarded certificates for "excellent rehearsal attendance." Only one missed rehearsal is allowed, in order to qualify. These were presented after their final concert in September.
Alexandra McNeill, Daniel Sullivan, Angela Yang, William McNeill, Michelle Suh, Alison McGhie, Mariann Brennan

Trinity Guildhall Practical Examinations - August Session
Danielle Joe - ATCL violin; Alicia McNeill - ATCL violin
Ali Huang - Grade 8 violin (Merit)
Alexandra McNeill - Grade 6 oboe

Musica Viva - Young Performers' Competition
Winner of Instrumental Section: Danielle Joe - violin
VHC - Alicia McNeill - violin

MYO (Inc.) Annual Awards
Leader's Award Peter Cui
Len Schwabe Memorial AwardDanielle Joe - violin & Sarah Henderson - trumpet

IRMT Manawatu - Intermediate Grades Instrumental Competition
1st Katie Isaacs - flute
2nd Angela Yang - viola