SBS board hopes its musical legacy will survive via the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The Board of the SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra has today announced its decision to support one of the main education programs of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra by endowing a Fellowship position in remembrance of SBS Youth Orchestra founder, Matthew Krel.

The announcement follows the decision by the SBS Youth Orchestra board to wind-up operations after 25 years as reported yesterday. For some, though, the reduced artistic commitment from SBS – from supporting an entire orchestra one day down to a single instrumentalist the next – will be seen as a worrying sign of the times.

The radio and television orchestra was founded by Russian-born conductor Matthew Krel whose tragic death from encephalitis occurred unexpectedly in 2009. According to the orchestra’s manager, Ian Hamilton, it has proved impossible to see a way forward without Krel’s creative drive. Today, though, he was more upbeat. “I am so pleased we can honour Matthew and continue his commitment to young musicians of the highest calibre by endowing a chair in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Fellowship program,” he said.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra Managing Director, Rory Jeffes says that this will be a chance for Matthew’s legacy of musical instruction to live on. “Matthew Krel is known throughout musical circles for the dedication he showed to the development of young musicians and I am delighted that his legacy will continue through the support of one of our Fellows. For the nine musicians who annually make up the Fellowship Program, the year-long training program is a chance for them to fine-tune their skills and make the transition from student to professional musician and has proven to be a vital step for many musicians in fulfilling their dream of securing a full-time orchestral job.”

Conductor Simon Murphy was a member of the SBS orchestra from the age of 15 to 17 and acknowledges Matthew Krel’s musical passion and dedication as an educator. “He created opportunities for young people like me to learn, explore and perform orchestral repertoire in a really engaging and exciting way,” he told Limelight.

“The way he truly believed in people’s ability, demanded the best, challenged and elevated (often through very hilarious means), and thereby got more out of individuals than they thought/realised they had in themselves, is an ongoing source of inspiration to me. He was a legend and a hero. I hope that through an alternative scholarship fund, that his impressive legacy is remembered and celebrated. He inspired several generations of Australian musicians. The country and its arts scene, locally and internationally, has a lot to be grateful to him for.”

Matthew Krel’s widow, Faina Krel, is a former violinist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (1978-2003). She has welcomed the announcement, saying: “The SBS Youth Orchestra and the SSO has always had a very close relationship, in fact many of the SBS tutors were SSO musicians! I am sure Matthew would approve of the move undertaken today by the SBS Youth Orchestra Board. Matthew always wanted to further the musical training of the crème-de-la-crème of Australia’s orchestral musicians and by endowing a Fellowship position we can ensure Matthew’s vision will continue.”