ARTICLE BY JONAR NADER
The University of Sydney’s Australian Lebanese Foundation (ALF) was treated to a stunning performance by the Brahms Tango Ensemble comprising Conservatorium High School students whom I invited via Ms Julie Simonds to join forces with former student Dominic Azzi (now studying at Sydney Conservatorium of Music).
Dominic was selected to receive an ALF Scholarship, and thus invited to perform at MacLaurin Hall on Thursday 8 June 2017. The ALF was familiar with Dominic’s capabilities on the violin. For this reason, I challenged Dominic to play the clarinet, and I selected Ryan Nguyen to lead the Ensemble which included Georgina Cartlidge, Jasmine Zeng, Max Lim Scrimali, and Isaac Davis.
The ALF event commenced with a lecture by Nissan-Renault chief Mr Carlos Ghosn KBE, for Sydney Ideas, in the presence of university Chancellor Belinda Hitchinson AM, and 400 distinguished guests who moved on to MacLaurin Hall for a lively awards dinner and talent showcase. You can watch a photo montage of the event at this link: https://youtu.be/Zv5pTk_AKu4
Entertaining the crowd with Piazzolla’s ‘Soledad and Michelangelo’, the Ensemble brought the room to a stunned silence to witness amazing talent. Beautifully played. Nicely paced. Expertly poised. The students inspired us all.
During rehearsals, Ms Julie Simonds and I observed the serious dedication of these musicians. Taking direction from Ryan Nguyen, the players refined the piece and discussed how they might present it to their audience. It was music to my ears to have heard Georgina Cartlidge ask the final and most important question, ‘How are we going to ensure that we project our feelings to secure a strong stage presence? Bingo. That was the icing on the cake at the final rehearsal.
Each student received a framed certificate for taking part in the Talent Showcase, after enjoying a meal alongside other performers. After two days of flooding rain, the night ended to perfect weather as guests and performers enjoyed the night air, as they said goodbye to newfound friends. The final challenge was trying to fit five of the musicians into two sedans — which would not have been a problem, save for the huge base and large cello. It took a bit of problem solving.