The Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition (in a nutshell)

Emma Jardine from the Streeton Trio shares her ensemble's journey as the only Australian group in this year's competition.

Welcome to the Streeton Trio’s blog updates! As the only Australian group in this year’s Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, we will keep you posted during our preparation for the competition.

My name is Emma Jardine and I'm the violinist of the group. The other members are Martin Smith (cello) and Benjamin Kopp (piano). We are three young Australians who have been living in Europe for the past few years. Despite fears that volcanic ash would delay our return to Australia, we arrived last week and are thrilled to be back home again. We have a concert tour of Victoria and NSW leading up to the competition in July, so it’s going to be a busy month for us, but we’ll do our best to give you all the updates on the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition from an insider’s point of view.

But first, a recap on what we’ve been doing to get to this point. Most people are only just starting to hear about the MICMC now, but we actually applied for this competition back in August 2010. To apply, we had to send in a DVD of one of our live performances. Then, after a few nervous months' wait, we found out that we were invited to a live audition in Paris. There were 18 trios around the world who got through to the second round. On a freezing December morning, we took the 5am train from Geneva to Paris to play at the Cité des Arts. We felt like our audition went well, but we had no idea if we got in or not. We knew that we had some tough competition in the other groups, especially since only 8 trios would be accepted into the competition.

Finally, in January, the email arrived from Chamber Music Australia, and you can imagine the squealing and jumping around and hugging that ensued when we found out we got in! We would be flying home to Melbourne in July to represent Australia in the biggest chamber music competition in the world - a dream come true for us.

And so our competition preparation began. Luckily, we had several masterclass sessions at the European Chamber Music Academy (ECMA) to help us on our way. The ECMA is an amazing program for emerging chamber music ensembles, which we have been lucky enough to be a part of since 2010. It’s completely free for us to participate in, and only eight trios are invited from all over the world. Although the headquarters are in Vienna, ECMA is held in a different European city each month, where we travel to receive intensive public masterclasses with amazing chamber musicians such as Hatto Beyerle (Alban Berg Quartet), Johannes Meissl (Artis Quartet), Avedis Kouyoumdjian and Peter Cropper (Lindsay Quartet). Then we perform at concerts in that city are organised by the ECMA. All in all, it is an amazing opportunity for us, and the lessons we have received have helped us beyond belief. These teachers are really the world gurus of chamber music; their lessons are inspiring and insightful, and the whole experience has been excellent for the development of our trio.

Then in April this year, we undertook another exciting project in preparation for the competition – we recorded our debut CD! We recorded the Brahms B major and Ravel Piano Trios in the Geneva Grande Salle, Place Neuve. Anyone who has ever recorded a CD before will know that recordings are HARD work! But we were very happy with the final result and the CD recording was a good way of getting the Brahms and Ravel trios super-prepared. We also had new photos done for the CD cover in the Geneva Botanic Gardens, one of which I have included here.

The CD is now being featured on ABC Classic FM and and is stocked by Thomas’ Music in Melbourne, where it is featured as CD of the Month of June. You can listen here:

Ravel Piano Trio in A minor - mvt 1 Modéré

In May and June we had a couple of concerts in Geneva. Both went really well and were very enthusiastically received by the Swiss audiences! Between these two concerts, we performed all of our repertoire for the MICMC - Ravel, Brahms B major, Haydn C major, Australian composer Roger Smalley, and Beethoven Op 70 No 2. One of the concerts was at a beautiful ancient church in the Old Town of Geneva called Chapelle de l’Oratoire. Here's a photo of Ben and Martin outside the venue. The other concert was at Nyon Conservatoire, which is a gorgeous Chateau on the banks of Lac Leman.

Since then, there has been a lot of organising to do, since we will soon be performing seven concerts all around Victoria and NSW in lead-up to the competition. All of the concert details are on our website. In Melbourne, we will be performing tonight at the Melbourne Recital Centre, as well as several concerts in regional Victoria, then we’re off to Sydney for a performance at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre on June 30, Theme and Variations in Sydney on July 1, and the Stuart & Sons Showrooms in Newcastle on July 3! So it will be a busy few weeks for us before the competition starts, but we're really looking forward to it!

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Australian violinist Emma Jardine is one third of the Streeton Trio. She and her fellow players are keeping a guest blog for Limelight as they tour the country.
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