FOLLOWING an intense weekend of rehearsals in Dubbo, five Tamworth students are already preparing to take to the international stage in April.
The students are playing a key role in the West of the NSW Divide wind ensemble, which consists of some of the state’s top young musicians, and have completed their one and only rehearsal for their performance at the Hong Kong International Music Festival.
They will perform a 35-minute set as they go up against bands from around the world, and are also hoping for a gig at Disneyland.
Peel High School student Ryan Parker is the leader of the ensemble and said he was ready for “the added pressure of being puppetmaster”.
“It was quite a daunting experience at first. There’s a lot of responsibility, but I enjoy the challenge,” he said.
Ryan, along with other locals Kurt Prentice, Amber Minett, Michael Hodge and Austin McGrane, returned to school this week. They have been practising non-stop since returning from Dubbo.
While rehearsing in Dubbo, the band recorded a DVD to audition to play at Hong Kong Disneyland, which Ryan said they had a good chance of achieving.
“I think we’ll get it. The recording we sent in was great – the whole band was really good, so hopefully we get to do the gig at Disneyland,” he said.
New England Department of Education regional arts co-ordinator Di Hall, who is also the conductor and co-
ordinator of the ensemble, shares Ryan’s confidence.
She said they had a good chance at securing the Disneyland spot and praised the students for their hard work.
“The process of moulding them into a team wasn’t difficult for these music kids, because they’re quite used to working in bigger teams. They’ll be off practising with their CDs now,” she said.
Mrs Hall said the band was a great opportunity for rural students to meet people from around the state and travel overseas.
“They will be doing workshops by people from around the world,” she said.
Austin McGrane of Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School said being the lead trombone player “takes a lot of leadership and communication skills”.
“The music is challenging, but it’s also fun to play, so hopefully it will all pay off,” he said.
The ensemble heads to Hong Kong on April 11 and will spend a week there.
They will take part in master classes and welcome dinners in addition to the main performance on April 13.
MUSICAL ENSEMBLE: Ready for the international stage are, from left, Austin McGrane (lead trombone, Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School), Ryan Parker (ensemble leader, Peel High School), Amber Minett (flute, Tamworth High School), Kurt Prentice (bass guitar, Tamworth High School) and Michael Hodge (baritone sax, Oxley High School).
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