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'Canberra’s youngest string players are set to wow audiences when they share their musical prowess at the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Fundraising Gala on Friday 3 November.
'“The fundraiser event is a bit of a melting pot for us to tell the story of CSO. Having the young students there allows us to say, ‘here’s the starting point’, but at the end, we have the professional musicians playing musical jukebox. It really helps us show that journey,” says Rachel Thomas, CEO of CSO.
'The Kingsland Strings performance enrichment program was launched in July by the CSO to enable children to develop their skills and passion for classical music through specialised training in solo and ensemble playing and mentorship from the orchestra’s concertmaster Kirsten Williams.
'Since July, seven talented violin, viola and cello musicians aged between eight and 12 have taken part in the Kingsland Strings program run by the CSO, under the overarching Kingsland Pathway Program that provides musical education for young people.
'“We’re developing skills and creating a pathway for our young musicians so they have a natural endpoint of being in the CSO eventually and we have had three of these students pass CSO auditions,” says Ms Thomas.
'"What we're really wanting to do is attract and retain our musicians in Canberra by giving them opportunities here."
Rachel Thomas, CEO of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra
'The students come to the Kingland Strings program proficient with their instruments and able to sight-read music. Ms Thomas says they have all been learning for quite a while despite their young ages. Learning to play within an ensemble is the next natural step, however, Kingsland does it a bit differently, as one of the only unconducted youth orchestras in the country.
'Throughout the enrichment program, the young musicians are encouraged to hone their skills without a conductor. The teachers call the lead from the chair, sitting with the young musicians, which teaches them to look at and listen to one another to perform as a group.
'“The skills of learning to play and sense what the other players are doing around you is really important, even in an orchestral setting. Every musician needs to be able to play together… Whether that’s connecting visually or connecting through sound, it is what brings the sound together and makes it really cohesive and well expressed,” says Ms Thomas.
'According to Ms Thomas, the Kingland program differs from an orchestra in that it teaches students skills they are encouraged to share with other music groups they are part of.
'The program has been growing quickly, and Ms Thomas says it’s important that young people are given opportunities to experience all that music has to offer.
'“When kids are young, they are like sponges and take in all of these experiences and I think adding an experience like playing an instrument or some creative endeavour really helps to build the whole child so that they are getting a really well-rounded experience and all the beautiful things in life,” she smiles.
'To help children across our region be able to explore their love of music, the CSO subsidises the program and provides scholarships to make it more accessible.
'“That’s one of the reasons why the fundraiser is so important; we’re providing these opportunities for these kids within this program, but not only that, our other community programs where we reach people with hearing loss or diverse abilities,” says Ms Thomas.
'With two-thirds of CSO’s funding generated through initiatives like the gala, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales, they understand the event’s importance and want to ensure attendees get the most out of the evening. Members of the group have performed for the CSO before [...]. Ms Thomas says the children play with such joy and confidence that their performances are a wonderment to see.
'Along with the outstanding talents of the Kingsland Strings, the gala features beautiful melodies from CSO ensembles as curated by Pip Thompson, plus an indulgent three-course dinner, wine and canapes. Bidders are at the ready as the live auction offers experiences and a fantastic range of goods, while the online silent auction is open now until the night of the gala. Enter the raffle to win the Golden Ticket – two A-reserve seats to every CSO concert, the chance to meet Artistic Director Jessica Cottis, and invitations to the pre-concert VIP functions.
'See the talented youth of the Kingsland Strings at the CSO Fundraising Gala 2023 at the National Gallery of Australia, Friday 3 November 6pm. Tickets available until 10am 23 October via cso.org.au/concerts/cso-fundraising-gala-2023.'