Where were you born, and where do you live now?
I was born in North Sydney at the Mater Hospital and now live in the beautiful rural community of Kurrajong within the Hawkesbury, NSW.
How old are you, and what year are you in at school?
I am 13 years old in year 8 at St Paul’s Grammar School in Penrith.
Arabella Logan. Photographs supplied
Do you come from a musical family?
My grandfather and great-grandfather from New Zealand were both violinists. I have been blessed to have been gifted by my grandmother two family violins, first my three quarter violin and now my full size violin, both beautifully well- loved Italian violins with many generations of family playing history. My grandfather who was a passionate violinist passed away before I was born, so playing the violin gives me a wonderful connection to him.
How old were you when you began playing the violin, and what made you take it up?
I was about four years old when I first picked up a half-sized violin and started playing, commencing my violin journey with lessons from a violin teacher at school from age five. I always had a love and ear for music. When I was very young my mother would play classical music on ABC Classic FM on the car radio and sing to me all the time. I wanted to learn the piano but found I could not reach the pedals so on advice from a music teacher started first on the violin. Now I can reach the pedals and read music so playing the piano is a pure joy and a lovely life skill to have. Along with other instruments, I enjoy playing the ukulele and I am attempting to learn the flute currently.
Did you instantly enjoy playing it, or not?
Yes, I loved playing the violin from day one. The violin was challenging and portable. I absolutely loved the sound of the violin. Before long, I could start to play tunes like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Mozart and Ode to Joy by Beethoven and perform small concerts for family, friends and school from age five. I felt so special seeing the enjoyment on the faces of my audience and parents.
How do you feel about having to practice?
Practicing is an essential part of learning and mastering any instrument especially the violin. I like to practice daily depending on what I’m working on – a new piece for the Western Sydney Youth Orchestra, my current AMEB violin examination, or a new school ensemble piece or school orchestra repertoire. I was rehearsing with the high school orchestra Bye Bye Birdie, the musical prior to the coronavirus lockdown.
Where do you have lessons?
I have a fabulous violin teacher who is very inspiring in Richmond, NSW where I have my lessons with Barbara Webb. Barbara is also the violin tutor at school, leading the strings program at the Music Academy. During these coronavirus self-isolation times, I have been having all my lessons and tutorials via Zoom online, which are working quite well under the current circumstances.
When did you join Western Sydney Youth Orchestra?
I auditioned up from a junior SYO Strings Ensemble in 2018 when I was in year 6, and joined the WSYO in 2019 when I entered year 7 in high school. I was one of the youngest musicians in the orchestra in that year. This year, 2020, is my second year with the WSYO. Prior to this, I have had a number of years with Junior SYO orchestras and attended several week-long SYO summer school programs over the summer holidays.
Can you tell us about the experience of being involved with WSYO and going to SYO camps?
Being involved with the WSYO is an amazing experience for me. I play with a full orchestra of talented young musicians from Western Sydney with an enthusiastic and experienced conductor Mr James Pensini. We toured in 2019 to the Four Winds Youth Music Festival in Bermagui with a showcase concert including outreach workshops with local south coast schools. We performed at the 2020 Sydney Festival in Encounter with Form Dance Projects in a large-scale performance in Parramatta along with other concerts at Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Big Busk in Parramatta and City CBD, and Western Sydney’s Parramatta Riverside Theatre. The SYO’s symphonic music camps are great – three days of intense work with masterclasses, tutorials, rehearsals, workshops and team building, including fun activities with experienced, passionate conductors concluding with a full concert on the last day.
What have been your most inspiring musical experiences so far?
My most inspiring moment… I have so many… is probably being Concert Master, Violin 1, performing at the Sydney Youth Orchestra’s Summer Showcase in Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to a full house in December 2018 with the Corelli Orchestra, performing four wonderful pieces with Conductor Dr Irina Andreeva, and receiving the biggest bunch of beautiful flowers as Concert Master from an audience member on stage following our performance. Very honoured!
I see that you are a cadet with the NSW Rural Fire Service. When did you join them? Was it in response to the recent bushfires?
Yes, I joined the NSW Rural Fire Service Brigade Cadet program in 2020 with our school. I’ve always wanted to join the RFS when old enough and contribute to my community. As a family and community, we were deeply affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires in the Hawkesbury with these devastating fires to our national parks, wildlife and bushland, with many friends losing property and livestock to these terrible fires.
What kind of things do you learn as a RFS cadet?
For me, I am gaining so much knowledge from the NSW RFS Cadets – learning fire safety, firefighting skills, communications and leadership along with team work and community commitment – all fabulous skills I can take into my adulthood and local community of Kurrajong.
Are you concerned about climate change?
Yes, like most people. I still need to do more research on this topic personally. However, I would like to see more trees planted along the roadways and more green spaces in our towns, cities and new urban areas of Western Sydney.
You play sport as well as the violin. Do you like the balance? And do you know yet which direction you would like to take when you are older?
I love my sport, especially swimming, rowing and school winter netball. I feel it gives me a good balance to my life, music, study and friends, particularly my mental and physical health. Sport is a wonderful balance for me. Playing a team sport is like playing in an orchestra, where every team member has to be engaged and totally focused on the game or performance. As for my future direction, it’s early days. I love classical music and performing. However, I also love the science of Medicine – so perhaps joining the Doctors’ Orchestra in the future. Whatever my future, music will always be part of my life!
How have you coped with the coronavirus restrictions?
Better than I thought. Home schooling, distance learning, online music lessons have all been going well. I have a good understanding of information technology which makes online learning more enjoyable with Zoom music lessons and tutorials. Living in a rural community has its advantages of being and keeping distant. I miss my orchestral and sporting friends including all our live music rehearsals and concerts very much. Hopefully we will be all back on the concert stage real soon!
What do you and your friends make of the world right now?
Wow, what a year – drought, devastating fires, smoke, floods and now the COVID-19 global pandemic – a very tough year for all of us!
What are your dreams and ambitions?
Continue with my AMEB, Australian Music Examinations Board, violin studies and complete my Associate in Music (AMusA.) Hopefully after the coronavirus attend the Royal Academy of Music in London to attend several masterclasses, tour with the Sydney Youth Orchestra to Europe, continue focusing on my school studies, music and sport. Most importantly, I hope that a vaccine is found for the coronavirus.
Do you have a favourite composer?
I have so many favourite composers. Here are my favourite six – 1. Ludwig van Beethoven. 2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 3. Antonio Vivaldi. 4. George Gershwin 5. Peter Sculthorpe and 6. Aaron Copland.
Is there a musician you most admire?
Delta Goodrem for her talent, life experience and can-do attitude.
What is your favourite TV show or film?
I’m a big Star Wars and Avengers film series fan and TV has to be Nowhere Boys.