Have you ever wondered what life is really like in the orchestra? Welcome to CutCommon’s EXPOSED!

Throughout 2017, CutCommon is teaming up with musicians and arts administrators from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to take you behind the scenes, and show you what it means to pursue a career in a challenging and fulfilling industry.

EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Yoram Levy, trumpet

EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Yoram Levy, trumpet

Yoram Levy has performed with the TSO as principal trumpet since 1998. In the years before, he’d worked with conductors including Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta as a member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked as a lecturer and Head of Brass at the Queensland Conservatorium, and has appeared as principal trumpet in the New Zealand Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Queensland Symphony and Western Australian Symphony Orchestras.

Yoram now coordinates brass and lectures at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music, and is the president of Island Brass Academy with a mission of educating young performers. Let’s learn what life is like in the orchestra for Yoram!

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

While I was head of brass at the Queensland Conservatorium in the early ’90s, I came down and played with the orchestra a few times. I really enjoyed it.

Since the start of my musical career, I always had two parallel and cross-pollinating passions: orchestral playing, and teaching. So when the principal trumpet position in the TSO came up in 1997, I felt it was time for me to get back into full-time orchestral playing…

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EXPOSED! Anna Larsen Roach, viola

EXPOSED! Anna Larsen Roach, viola

This time in EXPOSED! we chat with Anna Larsen Roach, who turned down an overseas scholarship to accept a position with the TSO after graduation. Anna hasn’t looked back – and she tells us what’s involved in orchestral life.

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

My first experience with the TSO was though a fellowship with the Australian Youth Orchestra. After completing my education at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, I was offered scholarships overseas and at the same time a tutti audition was advertised at the TSO. I decided to accept the role at the TSO because I enjoyed performing repertoire for an orchestra of this size.

The TSO – being a relatively small orchestra – gave me the opportunity to perform varied repertoire from small chamber works to large works such as Mahler, Strauss, and Stravinsky. I love living here; it’s a small island big on culture and wilderness.

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EXPOSED! Rob Clark, principal bass trombone

EXPOSED! Rob Clark, principal bass trombone

In our latest interview we chat with Rob Clark, who is about to perform his final concert with the TSO after 43 years in the orchestra. Rob was born in Victoria and joined the TSO in ’74, performing as principal bass trombonist and travelling with the orchestra across the nation and world. In the years since he started, he’s played under the baton of Charles Dutoit, En Shao, Kurt Sanderling and Marko Letonja; and with soloists such as Howard Shelley and Stephen Hough among many, many others.

So after more than four decades on the job, Rob has a thing or two to tell us about a classical music career.

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

I studied at the Melbourne Conservatorium in the early 1970s and worked as a freelance trombonist in Melbourne for a number of years. During this time, I played as a casual with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, various theatre, ballet and opera orchestras as well as doing some big band and rock band gigs. It was a fun time even though I was keen to land a full-time orchestral job.

I auditioned for various positions during these years, but it was not until 1974 that I was successful in my audition as bass trombonist with the TSO.

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EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Edwina George, violin

EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Edwina George, violin

Here we chat with TSO tutti violinist Edwina George. Edwina started playing when she was four, though pursued studies in science and arts before fully realising her passion for music. After an arts degree, she studied at the Queensland Conservatorium and “got serious about the violin”, completing a Masters of Music Studies there – followed by a Master of Music at Melbourne University. Loyal to her new career goal, Edwina continued her academic training at the Australian National Academy of Music for three years before gaining her place in the TSO in 2013.

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

I had a slightly round-about way into professional music in that, straight after school, I wanted to be a physio!

I had played violin since I was four, and continued to have private lessons and play in the Queensland Youth Orchestra and Australian Youth Orchestra, but never thought I wanted to make it my career. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movements, and a few years later switched to a Bachelor of Arts, studying everything from writing to sociology. It was during this time that I began to think about that thing I’d done since I was four, and thought that might be worth a try. That naive arts student had no idea how much work was involved in transforming a good violinist into a professional musician! But, after many early mornings and late nights, and many failed auditions, I successfully auditioned for TSO in May 2013 and the rest is history.

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EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Emma McGrath, concertmaster

EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Emma McGrath, concertmaster

Here we chat with TSO concertmaster Emma McGrath. The British violinist started her role with the orchestra last year, and has a rich musical background having made her London debut at 10 years old in the Southbank Centre. At 14, she performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Howard Shelley – who himself has a long history with the TSO. Emma was associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Opera Orchestra from 2009 until she made the move to Hobart, and has performed as a soloist across Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Emma is a graduate of the Royal College of Music in London and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the USA. In addition to her orchestral career, she is a professional singer, folk musician, and a published and recorded composer.

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

I saw a job posting in December 2014, two weeks before my second child was born. Looking back on it now, that was not an ideal time to be applying for a new job! I sent recordings and publicity materials, and did a phone interview when my second child was just a couple of weeks old! Based on my credentials, the TSO invited me for an extensive trial during the winter of 2015, of about five weeks duration.

In the middle of this, I had to play a recital of concerto repertoire and concertmaster excerpts. In October, they had finished reviewing all the candidates on trial, and I imagine there were many meetings and surveys about this. I got a phone call in October saying they’d like to offer me the position, and I said yes! Within two months, we had sold our house in Seattle, packed our belongings and shipped them, and rehoused our dogs. We arrived in late February 2016 to begin our new life here!

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EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Tim Jones, tuba

EXPOSED! Life in the orchestra with Tim Jones, tuba

Our first guest in EXPOSED! is the orchestra’s resident tuba player Tim Jones. Tim picked up the instrument in primary school, and joined the Melbourne Youth Orchestra before studying at the Victorian College of the Arts. He quickly gained casual work with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Australian Art Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, and a wealth of jazz and contemporary ensembles. He moved to Tasmania in ’95 and joined the TSO, two years later becoming a finalist in the ABC Young Performer’s Awards.

How did you make your way into a position with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra?

From the age of 13, I decided that I was going to make my living from playing music. The tuba fell into my lap at the age of 8 and I practised and rehearsed and performed more and more as the years progressed. I freelanced in Melbourne for 10 years until I received a call from the TSO for a week’s work – and 22 years later, I’m still here. One of the best decisions I think I have made.

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