Regional Tour Blog 10: Last day of tour



Blog 10

10: Last day of tour

Today was the least anticipated day of tour – the last day! We checked out of our motels for the final time of the tour. Then we hopped onto the bus to make our way to Townsville Grammar School.

As soon as we arrived at Townsville Grammar School we jumped straight into workshops with local musicians. We broke up into four groups – a wind orchestra, beginner, intermediate and advanced strings. These workshops were entirely led by our musicians who did an exceptional job!!

We all had a break to get some food into us - we had pizza! Then we performed a concert with the groups to showcase to the musician’s parents. It was definitely apparent that the musicians loved working with us and had learned a lot!

After this QYO put on our last concert of the tour. We performed selections of John Rotar’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra, played Hoedown, Beethoven Symphony No. 8 and Nina, Andre and Liam performed as soloists.

After the concert, we packed up and loaded the truck with Noel for the last time. Then we all went and explored Townsville and grabbed some dinner before heading to the airport to catch our flight home.

Thank you to all the orchestra members, conductor Sergei Korschmin, soloists Nina, Liam, Andre and Josh, tour staff Geoff, Joumanna, Noel and Tuan, for all your great performances, hard work and assistance during the 9-day tour.

 A big thank you to our tour sponsors and partners, including major sponsors Arts Queensland, Peabody Australia and Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

We are looking forward to our next (short) regional tour on 26 July for the Queensland Music Festival’s Opera at Jimbour.

Regional Tour Blog 9: Last evening!



Blog 9

9: Last evening!

Today we were lucky enough to have the morning to ourselves. Some of us used the opportunity to get in some personal practice, do some work or to have a sleep in. Others went and soaked up what Ayr had to offer – going op-shopping, having brunch and visiting the Ayr nature display (all of the following photos are made entirely out of beetles and butterflies).

Then came 1.30pm which meant our break was over and that it was time to get back into rehearsal! We rehearsed all of the pieces that we were going to perform in tonight’s concert which included working with a young local pianist, Joshua Mann. This was Joshua’s first rehearsal with us where we rehearsed a piece he had been preparing Pride and Prejudice. We were all quite impressed with Joshua’s playing and found that playing with him brought us back to the early days of when we first were fortunate enough to play a solo with an orchestra. Joshua grew with confidence as the rehearsal went on. At the end of our rehearsal Noel, our stage manager, decided to distribute his raffle prize that he won at our concert in Moranbah amongst us all. We all got our share of candles, chocolate and chips!

After rehearsal we went back to our motel to relax for an hour, then get dressed to go have dinner before our concert. Most of us opted for Zambrero but some did go for Subway. Once we all had our dinner we then made our way to the Burdekin Theatre for our concert. The concert went particularly well – the rest morning definitely helped us to regain our energy and put together a spectacular performance. Our soloist, Joshua Mann, after using music in the rehearsal, we were really impressed to see that he had memorised the music for the night. As this was our last evening concert together, after the concert we made sure to take photos with each other and also, to celebrate the great tour that we’d had!

Regional Tour Blog 8: Travel day



Blog 8

8: Travel day

Today we checked out of our motel rooms at 8am and made our way to the bus that was going to take us to Glenden Recreation Centre. Our bus ride from Moranbah to Glenden involved taking a ‘scenic’ route which we were told was quicker. It did mean though, that we had to travel via dirt road which for a lot of us was something we had never experienced. Throughout the bus drive we drove past a lot of dry river beds, red soil and mines.

After the two-hour-long very bumpy bus ride, we arrived in Glenden. We were all quite amazed at how small Glenden was and after a quick search on the Australian Bureau of Statistics we found out that the population of Glenden was a small 620 people. When we arrived, our hard-working stage manager Noel had already set up our percussion, risers, music stands and chairs. This meant that it was time for a morning tea break! On the menu was cut up oranges and fruit plus muesli bars and muffins. After our much-needed morning tea break we then had a short rehearsal.

It was then time for our educational concert for local school students. Once again the children were enthralled by our performance with Nina and her princess-like singing stealing the show. Three students were even lucky enough to get to conduct us! One thing that did take us by surprise was how knowledgeable the students were when we asked them questions about music. When we had finished our set we were told by the local teachers that the students had learnt a song to sing with us. So together the orchestra and students sang and played I still call Australia home.

After we had packed up the hall we all loaded ourselves onto the bus ready 5 hours of travel. The first part of our bus ride was a very quiet one with most of us taking the opportunity to have a nap. We then made a stop in Bowen to drop two of our musicians off at the train station, Jacob and Renee, and to stop at the local service station to get some snacks for the rest of our trip. The second part of our trip from Bowen to Glenden was definitely sprightlier with all of the junk food we bought to fuel ourselves. We finally arrived at Bowen around 6.45pm and checked into our motel rooms. Once we had done this, we made our way to the Country Ayr Hotel where we were treated to a delicious buffet. During dinner we also made sure to collectively wish our birthday boy a ‘Happy Birthday’. After a great meal and a long day of travelling we all made our way back to our rooms to go to bed.

Regional Tour Blog 7: A big day!



Blog 7

7: A big day!

Today we rose to a very gloomy and rainy Moranbah. Our woodwind, brass, percussion and bass players all struggled out of bed to get ready, with multiple layers on and raincoats on for those who were lucky enough to have remembered theirs. Horn player Anita Austin was once again spotted getting her morning warm up in but, this time it was out the front of our accommodation whilst she waited for everyone to turn up.

Once all our musicians had been accounted for we made our way to the Moranbah Community Centre facilitate a concert band workshop with nearly 600 local musicians of Moranbah State School, Moranbah State High School, Dysart State School and Dysart State High School and Clairemont State School. First, we rehearsed with the joint junior and senior concert bands where we rehearsed two charts Day Dream and Marchus Maximus. Local Moranbah teacher Emily Walker conducted the workshop and she had our QYO musicians help explain to each player how to differentiate between legato and staccato notes as well as how to blend with the player next to us.

After this, we then went into a workshop with the senior concert band. We worked together to prepare two pieces for our concert that evening Hand Clap and Adrenaline Rush. Whilst we were rehearsing, the string players slowly made their way to us whilst the rest of us watched them in slight jealousy because they were fortunate enough to have a sleep in.

Once our workshops had finished, we all quickly helped to pack up and load our truck up so that we could make our way to Moranbah East State School for an educational concert for the schools students. When we arrived at the school, we had a quick morning tea break so that we could have some sustenance for our concert. Then we set up the stage ready for the performance whilst groups of students started piling in.

The concert started with Sergei introducing the ‘smallest’ instrument of the string section, the Double Bass. At this point, we started wondering when this joke would get old but, the school students loved the joke which confirmed that it’s clearly a more funny joke than we all think it is. Dakotah Love, one of our cellists, then came to introduce the rest of the string section calling on the students to try and work out with instruments were ‘high’ and which were ‘low’. Then she introduced the first piece being performed, The Swan, asking the students to close their eyes and try to imagine a story, or feeling to the music. The students described seeing boats on the river and some said that the music made them feel sad. Next was an introduction of the woodwind section where Sergei once again exposed the flute for being the only instrument in the woodwind section that wasn’t made of wood – another joke we think is starting to get old!!

Then once again, the brass made their grand entrance. Once everyone had settled down, we performed Rossini’s Overture to Barber of Seville where Sergei explained that this piece was by a dead composer. Then Sergei introduced John Rotar, describing him to the students as an alive composer, so that he could introduce his piece. John’s piece follows the story of how a tiger got his stripes which encapsulated the student’s attention. Sergei then asked if anyone had ever met a princess – the full 550 students all started screaming with excitement anticipating what was about to come. The orchestra played a grand introduction and then suddenly, a voice appeared from the back of the hall – it was Nina, a beautiful opera princess. Nina the progressed towards the front of the orchestra, the entire time managing to keep the student’s in complete awe.

To follow was a performance of Copland’s Hoedown from ‘Rodeo’ where Sergei described that the music had horses, birdies and ‘moo-cows’ featured in it. At the end of the concert our musicians brought their instruments out to the students so that they could play them, and princess Nina had a crowd of students wanting to meet the ‘real-life’ princess.

We then had a quick lunch before we commenced our second concert for the day – an educational concert, identical to our one we performed earlier in the day, for the musicians of Moranbah State High School, Dysart State School and Dysart State High School and Clermont State School. After our performance we had a Q&A with the musicians.

Then we had a short rehearsal with Graeme Connors in preparation for our concert in the evening. Once our rehearsal was over we went back to our accommodation to quickly get changed into our blacks. We all loaded onto the bus in our blacks and arrived back at the Moranbah Community Centre (all in the space of 30 minutes due to a very quick turnaround). We had a very short rehearsal with Clermont Community Choir and the Moranbah Community Choir where we rehearsed I still call Australia home and Count on me. We then had dinner which was prepared by members of Moranbah Arts. We were spoilt for options which made the deciding what to get very difficult.

The first half of the concert featured our joint concert band, then we performed with Clermont Community Choir and the Moranbah Community Choir and then we performed our own set.

We then had an interval and after that Graeme Connors joined us on the stage. Graeme sang a set list that featured Only a cowboy could, Could be Monday, Cyclone season, Fireflies, The one that got away, A little further north each year and Every day I move a mountain. Members of our orchestra joined the Clermont Community Choir and the Moranbah Community Choir to provide backup for Graeme in We’ve done us proud. After the concert we all lined up for photos with Graeme.

Tomorrow we have a very big travel day – we will travel to Glenden to perform an educational concert then travel to Ayr.

Regional Tour Blog 6: Nebo concert



Blog 6

6: Nebo concert and travel

Today we all woke up early and met outside the motel. It was finally time to say goodbye to Mackay. Although we had a great time we were all exhausted from the concert on Tuesday, so the bus ride to Nebo was very quiet.

Not long after, we arrived at Nebo Memorial Hall. There was a playground right next door, so inevitably we had to go exercise for a while and wake up.

After a brief rehearsal we were joined by local primary school students from three different schools! We all did demonstrations of our instruments and as usual, everyone was baffled by the bassoon. Throughout the tour, all our instruments have been renamed by primary school students. The bassoons became didgeridoos, the clarinets were whistles and the piccolo was a tiny clarinet. Sergei explained to all the kids how people came to the city, chopped down all the trees and made a nice woodwind section. He then exposed the flute for being the only instrument in the woodwind section not made of wood. The kids also loved the double basses, which Sergei introduced as “the smallest instrument in the orchestra”.

We played a movement of John Rotar’s piece, and John told the kids a story about the piece, called ‘How the tiger got his stripes’. We also played the Overture of Barber of Seville, and then Sergei selected some students from the audience to conduct Hoe-Down. All the young conductors had very interesting interpretations of the tempo, however the orchestra had a lot of fun. We finished the concert with ‘I Feel Pretty’ from Westside Story. Afterwards we all went outside to enjoy some Subway sandwiches, and then we got back on the bus to head to Moranbah. No one could stop singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ and we seriously considered putting a ban on singing it in bus rides because its been stuck in our heads for days.

The ride to Moranbah felt shorter than it was, because those of us who weren’t taking a nap were playing charades in the back of the bus. None of us were good at it but we laughed a lot, although it was a bit scary how many animals we weren’t able to imitate because we had never heard of them. Once in Moranbah, we unloaded our luggage and the over 18’s checked into the motel, while the under 18’s were picked up by their new billet families. Overall it was a pretty relaxed day, but it was necessary to recover our energy for Thursday’s concerts.

Regional Tour Blog 5: Meeting Graeme



Blog 5

5: Meeting Graeme Connors

Another gorgeous sunny day in Mackay! A few QYO members were out and about in the early morning, enjoying the sunrise with a bit of exercise and fresh air. Horn player Anita Austin was spotted doing her morning warmup on one of the boardwalk pagodas, getting ready for a big day of playing.

Some of our diligent string members rose extra early to help facilitate a workshop with the Mackay Christian College Senior Strings, a small ensemble of beginner strings led by Mrs A. They worked to prepare two pieces for the evening concert, Schubert’s Serenade and a lively tune called Irish Faire.

We kicked off today’s rehearsal at Mackay Christian College, where we were soon joined by our special guest star for the evening concert, local singer Graeme Connors. Together we spent the morning playing through a selection of Connors’ hits, arranged for orchestra as an accompaniment to the singer and his guitar. It was an exciting collaboration for QYO as the music was so different from our other repertoire, and we were able to have some fun with the new styles. A particular highlight was the spontaneous formation of a vocal quartet by some of our orchestra members, as one of the songs called for an SATB quartet in the score. These multi-talented musicians rose to the challenge, learning the parts quickly and adding some beautiful layers of harmony to the texture.

During our rehearsal 7 News Mackay visited us which led to a lot of excitement amongst the orchestra. Watch the snippet here.

After a long but rewarding rehearsal, we were given some free time to relax before the evening concert. Many of us ventured out into Mackay to have lunch, shop, and discover the city, although a few stayed behind at the motel to nap!

We headed back to MCC in the afternoon for our soundcheck with Graeme, followed by a very well-received dinner of pizza and garlic bread, our sustenance for the energetic concert programme ahead. The theatre was buzzing with excitement as the audience began to file in, and soon we were getting ready to perform to a full house.

The concert opened with the combined QYO and MCC ensembles; the Senior Strings followed by the Wind Ensemble, with both groups performing exceptionally well. The audience particularly enjoyed Robert W. Smith’s The Great Steamboat Race, a programmatic work for wind ensemble depicting a race between two paddleboats along the Mississippi River. QYO then took to the stage to perform several arias with our soprano Nina Wildman before concluding the first half of the concert with an energetic rendition of Copland’s Hoe-Down (featuring an impromptu “yee-haw” from our esteemed conductor).

After a nail-biting raffle draw, Graeme Connors joined QYO on stage for the much-anticipated second half. Orchestra and audience alike enjoyed the singer’s stories as he explained the moments and inspirations behind each song. There was even a singalong in We’ve Done Us Proud, encouraged by our fantastic vocal quartet. We ended the concert to great applause from our appreciative Mackay audience, with the consensus that this concert was a tour highlight for QYO.

Regional Tour Blog 4: Impressing Mackay



Blog 4

4: Impressing students of Mackay

We woke up nice and early on Monday morning for our big day of music playing. After eating breakfast, making ourselves presentable and putting on our red tour polo shirts, we made our way down to the bus that would take us to Mackay Christian College (Junior Campus). On arrival, we all helped Noel, our wonderful stage manager, in setting up our percussion, risers, music stands and chairs. We then split up into two groups. The wind, brass and percussion from QYO made their way on to the stage to rehearse with the Mackay Christian College Wind Ensemble. A few of the string players went and joined the Mackay Christian College Junior Strings.

After our rehearsals with both Sergei and Earl Winterstein (Mackay Christian College), we had a much-needed morning tea break. It was then time for our first school concert. After watching hundreds of excitable little people walk in and fill the 500+ capacity theatre, anticipation was building. Many of them stopped and talked to QYO musicians on their way in. The phrase ‘big violin’ was heard around the room. The concert opened with the combined QYO/MCC Junior Strings. They played two pieces and were met with great applause. Up next was the combined QYO/MCC Wind Ensemble. They played two pieces as well, first conducted by Sergei and then conducted by Mr Winterstein. Many of the QYO wind players musicians were excited to return to playing in a wind ensemble as most of them had started in QYO in the QYO Wind Ensemble.

Then it was time for QYO to perform. The children were first enthralled by some instruments they’d never seen before. Joshua Jones’ rendition of The Swan and Andre Oberleuter’s performance of the Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto provoked much excitement and inspiration with so many children yelling out they wanted to play the bassoon! Our wonderful soprano Nina Wildman then surprised us all by emerging from the back of the theatre to start with her arias. Princess-like, she weaved amongst the children who were squealing with joy. To conclude, we played Copland’s Hoe-Down which resonated amongst the children as most of them have actually been to a rodeo.

After our performance, we packed down and the children went back to their classrooms, but not before high-fiving and talking to Nina, who was a big hit with the children.

Upon returning to our motel, we were given some free time. Most people took this opportunity to have lunch and as ever-hungry musicians, there were a few trips to the local-supermarket to stock up on snacks. The under 18s took this as an opportunity to get out some of their energy playing laser tag at Timezone.

We all boarded the bus again later in the afternoon and were taken to Mackay Christian College Senior Campus. We met the Mackay Youth Orchestra there. Many of the members had never seen or heard an oboe, bassoon or French Horn before and QYO members were happy to demonstrate. Some members of QYO left this rehearsal and went and joined ‘Con Brio’ which is the junior ensemble of the Mackay Youth Orchestras. The rest of us combined to rehearse selections from Les Misérables and the first movement from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The rehearsals went really well and were conducted by both Sergei and Mr Winterstein again. We then had a much-anticipated snack break before our concert.

The concert began with ‘Con Brio’ who performed two pieces marvellously. Then, the combined MYO/QYO performed. The audience was impressed by the might of the brass in the New World Symphony and were met with enthusiastic applause by community members, proud parents and teachers. QYO then performed separately. We began with Nina’s wonderful arias, which were as fantastic and popular as ever. The audience cheered loudly for an encore from Nina and we happily obliged, performing Habanera from Carmen. After the arias, we performed the whole of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. As our MC, Mr Winterstein, said, it isn’t very often that a full symphony is performed in Mackay. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we loved playing for them.

After the concert, we interacted with some audience members (with Nina unsurprisingly winning crowd favourite once again) before packing up and heading back to the motel. At this point, it was 9pm and we were all very tired and hungry. We enjoyed the delicious Italian food at Sorbello’s once again and walked home exhausted, but satisfied and happy after a long day of music-making. Tomorrow we rehearse and perform with Australian country-music legend Graeme Connors.

Regional Tour Blog 3: Visit to Bowen



Blog 3

3: Visit to Bowen

We were greeted by an incredible waterfront sunrise this morning, and a few of us set our alarms early to go for a stroll along the beach. Before departing, we even had an unexpected encounter with a local – a gorgeous male peacock looking to ruffle his plumage for the ladies!

We made our way to Bowen State High School, where our first workshop and concert were to be held. Joining forces with some of the local students, we worked on putting some fresh new repertoire together for a combined concert. The young musicians were full of enthusiasm, especially over in the percussion section, where Neacail presided over his posse of mini-percussionists.

The concert was a roaring success. The hall teemed with proud parents, siblings, grandparents, and teachers, who all watched excitedly as the combined string and wind ensembles performed, followed by a jam-packed programme by QYO. The audience were absolutely enthralled by soprano Nina Wildman, calling ‘more’ after each song. Eventually we ran out of songs to play and concluded the concert with a thrilling rendition of Copland’s ‘Hoe-down’, which was met with an appreciative standing ovation.

After a spot of afternoon tea, it was time to repack the truck and turn our tail southwards. The 2-hour drive was the perfect length for a movie, as scenes of vast fields and rugged mountains drifted past the bus windows. 

When we arrived in Mackay we went straight to Mackay State High School where we workshopped with string musicians from ocal schools and provided some tips to the musicians to improve their string playing. Oboists, Brooke and Emily gave a private lesson to a local oboe player. This was the first oboe player we had seen so far on this tour – and I would go so far to say that she may be the only one!

Tired and hungry after our long journey, the State of Origin was the last thing on our minds as we headed to dinner at the Italian restaurant, Sorbello’s. 

Tomorrow we will be hosting workshops and a concert for 500 students from Mackay Christian College and then quickly rehearsing and performing with musicians of Mackay Youth Orchestra.

Regional Tour Blog 2: Regional Tour Begins



Blog 2

2: Regional tour begins

We have arrived in Bowen, ready for a week of touring and performing in North Queensland’s regional communities.

Our day started off with most of us meeting at the Old Museum to take a bus to the airport. After some quick outfit adjustments due to the sudden Brisbane heat, we all piled onto the bus to make our flight to Proserpine.

Once we arrived at the airport we had a bit of time on our hands so we all went and grabbed a bite to eat. Before we knew it, it was time to board our flight so we all tried to eat the rest of our food swiftly whilst we tried to make our way to our flight on time.

We flew into Proserpine and were greeted by beautiful sunset views over the countryside as we travelled to Bowen on the bus. 

After checking into our accommodation, we went and sorted out our breakfast for the next few days. Our stage manager Noel Smith had portioned out our cereals, yoghurt, bread and milk into our room groups so that we could just wake up and make our breakfast on our own accord.

After we collected our bags of breakfast we walked down the road to a delicious dinner at the local Thai restaurant. We were all tired after dinner, and so although it was only 9pm we settled in for the night after a long day of travelling.

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Tomorrow will be our first concert and workshop for the tour, taking place at Bowen State High School. We will participate in a workshop with local students, and then present a concert at the school. We will then travel to Mackay for a short string workshop that evening. It is going to be very enjoyable workshopping with the young musicians and hopefully we will be able to inspire them quite a lot.

Regional Tour Blog 1: We're ready for tour!



Blog 1

1: We’re ready for tour!

Our 2019 QYO Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Sergei V Korschmin, is heading to North Queensland tomorrow for a tour which will involve performances in Bowen, Mackay, Nebo, Moranbah, Glenden, Ayr and Townsville and workshops with local musicians. Thank you to our major tour sponsors Peabody Australia, Qld Government and Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

We will be sharing moments from our tour orchestra’s journey through our daily blog. If you want to make sure you receive each new blog post we invite you to follow our Facebook page. Otherwise, keep an eye on our tour page for our daily updates.

We had our final rehearsal on Monday where we quickly rehearsed all of our tour repertoire. The music that we will be playing for this tour includes:

  • Rossini - Overture to Barber of Seville

  • Beethoven - Symphony No. 8

  • Copland - Hoedown from Rodeo and Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring

Plus we will be featuring a couple of our own members:

  • Saint-Saëns - The Swan (an orchestral arrangement featuring our principal cellist Joshua Jones)

  • Saint-Saëns - Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (featuring our concertmaster Liam Freisberg)’

  • Vivaldi - Bassoon Concerto in E minor (first movement featuring our principal bassoonist Andre Oberleuter)

  • Rotar - Suite for Chamber Orchestra (a piece that our principal trombonist, John Rotar, has composed for the tour)

We are also performing some songs with soprano Nina Wildman who is a student at the Queensland Conservatorium:

  • J Strauss II - Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus

  • Puccini - Quando me’n vo’ (Musetta’s Waltz) from La Bohème

  • Gounod - Je veux vivre (Juliet’s Waltz) from Romeo and Juliet

  • Bizet - Habanera from Carmen

  • Bernstein - I Feel Pretty from West Side Story

For two concerts in Mackay and Moranbah we will be collaborating with Australian country music singer, songwriter and performer Graeme Connors.

As you can see, we have a very long list of music that we are playing so our last rehearsal on Monday involved quickly running through them all. Once rehearsal was finished we were treated to some pizza to give us our energy for our performance that evening.


After our delicious dinner, we then had our first performance - a pre-tour concert so that our family and friends could hear what we had put together. For this concert it was decided that we would perform this concert in the style of an educational concert. Quite a number of our performances on tour involve holding educational concerts for local musicians so it was beneficial to have a practice-run of this style of concert - very different to your usual orchestra concert!

Our family and friends in the audience were treated to solo performances by Nina, Josh, Andre and Liam as well as performances of Rossini’s Barber Of Seville Overture, John Rotar’s Suite for Chamber Orchestra, and the first and fourth movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. The woodwind section each played short snippets to introduce their instrument to the audience and throughout the concert Sergei made some very funny and informative remarks about each piece that was performed. The highlight of the performance was when Sergei invited an audience member, Jamie Dodd, to conduct Copland’s Hoedown. Jamie appeared to enjoy himself quite a lot so we hope that the lucky school student that gets to conduct the orchestra on the tour enjoys it as much!

On Thursday our Stage Manager Noel arrived to load our truck for tour. Items including cellos, double basses, trombones, percussion, groceries, programs and stands were loaded onto the truck. Noel will be travelling from Brisbane to meet us in Bowen when we arrive on Saturday night.

Excitement is high as we all quickly finish packing our bags for the beginning of the tour on Saturday afternoon.

Keep an eye out for our next tour blog which will be uploaded on Sunday!