St Andrew’s students enjoying global connectedness through music

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Approximately 500 students from 23 different music ensembles in 11 schools across Australia and New Zealand descended upon the Gold Coast recently for the ASPIRE International Youth Music Festival, including a contingent of St Andrew’s students who enjoyed learning, personal growth and competing alongside top young musicians

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Approximately 500 students from 23 different music ensembles in 11 schools across Australia and New Zealand descended upon the Gold Coast recently for the ASPIRE International Youth Music Festival, including a contingent of St Andrew’s students who enjoyed learning, personal growth and competing alongside top young international musicians.

While the St Andrew’s team performed well in the competitions with the Wind Ensemble placing first in the Concert Band section and the Jazz Orchestra placing second in the Jazz Band section, it was the opportunity to learn and grow musically that proved most valuable said Chelsey Eunson, St Andrew’s music teacher and Head of Bands.

“Throughout the three-day festival, students had the opportunity to receive feedback from world-renowned adjudicators, develop skills on their instrument through masterclasses and ensemble workshops where students work together as a team in various ways under the guidance of outstanding world class clinicians,” Mrs Eunson said.

“They also met like-minded peers from different schools who share the same passion for music, created new friendships and were inspired watching other students perform at their peak.”

This was the second Aspire International Youth Music Festival, a unique event that combines competition with learning and development with a focus on global connectedness.

The first Festival in 2017 was held in Brisbane where the St Andrew’s Jazz Orchestra and Wind Ensemble both won their respective sections.

This year the bar was raised with both the St Andrew’s Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Orchestra performing what Mrs Eunson called a “very difficult repertoire” which challenged “all” of the students.

“They rose to the occasion to perform at their very best and left all of us with a great sense of pride coming off stage,” she said.

“We had some very tough competition from another school, and while it ended in an incredible achievement, I was prouder of how well the students performed than the result.

“When they play at their very best I can’t ask for anything more. It fills me with an immense sense of pride for what our students can achieve.”

For many of the St Andrew’s staff and students who attend the 2019 ASPIRE Festival, the best thing about the trip was the camaraderie with students from different schools and the inspiring performances they witnessed from other ensembles.

Year 12 student and College Captain Samuel Rieger said the opportunity to work with Dr Jack Stamp from the USA who composed one of the pieces the Wind Ensemble performed in their adjudicated performance was a “huge” highlight.

“We were able to gain the composer’s insight into his compositional intentions,” Samuel said.

Year 7 student Chloe Stewart said that her favourite moment was “doing the movement workshop with Dr Jodie Blackshaw and watching all the other ensembles perform.”

For Mrs Eunson, a highlight was also the teamwork displayed by students.

“The best thing about the trip was the way our students worked together and supported each other across the whole festival, from helping each other lugging their instruments and heavy equipment around, jumping under the bus to pack all of our instruments in like a game of Tetris to looking out for each other if someone was tired or feeling unwell,” she said.

“These music students are second to none and operate like a huge supportive family.”

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