In last week’s Deadline to Showtime families concert, the storyline had our musicians returning prematurely from their holidays to be able to perform for the Festival of the World. It looked as though there had been varied holidays with some returning still wearing snorkels and flippers, some in dressing gowns and ’Oodies’, and the clarinets making a quick return from their tropical cruise. This concert was timely as the musicians of the orchestra will shortly head into their mid-year break for a well-deserved two weeks resting their arms and their ‘chops’.
To find out what really happens in the holidays, three members of the orchestra; Principal Clarinet, Andrew Seymour, Principal Bass Trombone, Mitch Nissen and Tutti Viola, Will Newbery, have shared what their ideal break looks like and how they’ll be letting their hair down.
What do you have planned for this year’s mid-year break?
A: I have family visiting from interstate during the school holidays which everyone is very excited about! My sister has three girls aged between 4-12 and my two girls (3 and 7) can't wait to see their cousins. I don't think it's going to be a quiet and peaceful break!!
M: This year I plan to head north for some warmer weather during the first week of mid-year break. Stef and I will spend a week at her grandparent’s house on the hill on the Mornington Peninsula. It's an old and cosy place to switch off from things and just enjoy nature and some time to practice at our own pace. Apparently, there's some thermal springs and a spa that are really worth visiting, and I've heard there are also some good wineries there, so we'll take our time to take that in too. After that (surely blissfully warm) week we'll head back home to Hobart and enjoy the cosiness of the fire at home.
W: This midyear break Scott and I will be heading to North Queensland for our fourth visit to Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands and Port Douglas. We had hoped to hike the Jatbula Trail near Nitmiluk but it was nigh on impossible to book. So, it’s back to the tropics for us to unwind and defrost. We’ll start with some travel in the area and a lot of bird watching and wild-life spotting. Then we’ll finish up in a resort in Port Douglas for a few days of reading by the pool, taking in the tourist attractions, a day of scuba diving and perhaps the odd colourful cocktail before dinner out.
Is there anything you do in preparation for returning from the break, such as continuing practice, or do you get to take a real rest?
A: It depends on the projects that are on either side of the break. This time I won't be putting the tools down as the first week back is a big one and two weeks is just long enough for the embouchure [mouthpiece] to deteriorate such that it feels terrible to start up again!
M: The practice never really stops, you just get a bit of breathing space to prepare for what’s about to hit you in the coming months!
W: I find it particularly healthy to have a period of tools down in the TSO midyear break (although this particular break I will return not directly to Hobart but first to Adelaide where I am undertaking conducting studies so I will have some scores with me by the pool as well as my kindle). Then I can come back to the TSO refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the year.
What’s one thing you look forward to during the break period – do you have any special projects that you’ve been waiting to find some time for?
A: I do actually have a big project on during the second week of this break. I'll be recording all of Jabra Latham's clarinet music. We have 6 pieces in total, about 45 minutes worth of music which will make a great album. [editors note: we look forward to finding out more about this album, and where it will be available!]
M: I'm really looking forward to simply having this time at home to practice and Stef is looking forward to relaxing in our home together after many weeks on tour with ACO.
W: I try to avoid taking on any projects during the midyear break to allow for a nice clean getaway!
Once you’re back on the ground in the workplace, what are you most looking forward to in the second half of the 2023 season?
A: I actually haven't thought too far ahead but I am looking forward to the first week back where we play Nielsen and Sibelius with Giordano Bellincampi - it's always a pleasure having him conduct us!
M: The Nielsen is up there for me in highlights of the year, as is the following weeks Schumann 3. But I think the one I'm most looking forward to is Schubert 9. The last time we played that was in my first year and we took it to Melbourne Recital Centre. It was such a fantastic concert, and it was the best the orchestra sounded that year. It was such a nice feeling to play such a great work in that hall, and I'm hoping the acoustic upgrades will make our home hall feel as good in that concert as it did MRC, I think it will!
W: Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste is a masterwork of the twentieth century and our performance and then recording of it later this year will be a real challenge. There is so much depth and intelligence to the music and we’ll really have the chance to go as deeply as possible into it.