Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Post Tour to USA - some more photos - student reflections would be great!!!

After arriving back in Sydney a few days ago, we have all had a chance to sleep, enjoy Christmas and too much food (hopefully not cheese!). I am sure that over the time with family and friends, the students have also had the opportunity to reflect upon the wonderful experiences that made the tour to the USA so memorable. What a time we had! Absolutely awesome and certainly unforgettable! Here's a few more shots from the 17 days - just to remind you of the many places we went to and the things that we did. I would love to get some student reflections from any of the touring party who would like to add to the blog.

I hope that the parents and friends have found the blog a useful way to keep up with the events and performances that we did. There'll be a few more posts...but in the interim, enjoy another bunch of photos from the trip. It is hard to believe that we had just arrived in San Francisco this time last week, after the fantastic time we had enjoyed in Washington. Oh, how time flies...but the memories last forever.

Brad M

Friday, 20 December 2013

Some pictures to enjoy - Reflections as we start to get ready to come home!

It's been a wonderful time together, many shared experiences that will be part of all involved for the years to come.

Touring is a great institution, it forms friendships, independence and respect, while also challenging each member to contribute to the performances every time with sustained effort and commitment. Something that can be difficult when tired.

To the credit of the students, this tour group has been locked in for everything they've done and for everyone in the group from the first day through to the last.

We have touched the emotions of bystanders while singing 'Goodnight Moon' in Grand Central Station, 'The Star Spangled Banner' in Gettysburg, while the strings have brought happiness to so many as they have excelled in their ensemble work, whether it be the powerful 'Christmas Concerto' in Washington, or the engaging 'Plink, Plank, Plunk' for the parish members in Hershey. These are just passing reflections of so many outstanding moments that we have all been part of on this USA tour.

The students have created that intangible feeling, the aesthetic of artistic performance so many times and have been an absolute joy to tour with. More will follow later, but here's a few more shots to enjoy. We're about to head off to our last performance in San Francisco in about 30 mins.

Will post again at the airport tonight. Brad M

The string players - a concert review from Washington by Peter Ellis

Something very special happened to Barker's strings in their workshops. They seemed to grasp as one, some deeper understanding of what it is to be an ensemble. Ever since then I've been an involved observer, growing with them as every performance adds another layer of maturity and musicality.

The strings preceded the choir in tonight's high profile concert at Hearst Auditorium, Washington. To watch them take to the stage after an hour of sitting to one side in a warm and quite airless room and visibly pin the American audience back into their seats with the power of their performance was an experience that I'll relive over and over.

Their performance of the Corelli concerto displayed everything you'd ever want - outstanding leadership from Sergio Insuasti, Darcy marshalling the seconds, Jeremy's cello section playing with ever increasing flair, our younger viola section finding a maturer voice and Harry May on double bass working to integrate his sound into the ensemble. All the strings have taken on board their new baroque techniques - bow hold and phrasing - and now they've made it their own.

The bourree from the Britten Simple symphony was at turns playful, visceral, dynamically contrasted, emotional and utterly committed. The attack of the strings was breathtaking, and having been so expertly prepared by David all he has to do now is sit back and allow the wonderful and confident players to perform.  It's rare that you get to watch student string players perceptibly grow in performance, I watched it tonight.

Plink plank plunk sounds deceptively easy. It is not, and full credit to the players for carrying it off and delivering the musical in jokes and punch lines. Three varied pieces, all expertly performed by committed and talented young players. I hope they're proud because I know we are. 

It's a shame that these things cannot go on forever. Every time the strings play they add another level of greatness to their performance. Years from now I hope they look back on these performances and remember when they did something special, again and again and again.

Peter Ellis