Although live concerts have come to a halt, and much of the performing arts world has had to move online in the wake of the COVID-19 health crisis, the beginning of 2020 was a fantastic one for James Armstrong. Principal second violin of Sydney Youth Orchestra’s Flagship Orchestra, he is the inaugural winner of the SYO’s Austria Scholarship, which saw him spend three weeks in Vienna and Salzburg in January, courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office.

James Armstrong and Astrid Gruchmann-Licht (Director, Austrian National Tourist Office, Sydney) at the Vienna Philharmonic Ball. Photograph © Marion Carniel

There to soak up the musical culture, Armstrong participated in a dizzying range of musical activities. He attended rehearsals with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the NÖ-Tonkünster Orchestra. He also participated in a masterclass at the prestigious Musikverein, and attended concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim as part of Mozartweek Festival, The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra at Theater an der Wien, and Camerata Salzburg Orchestra. Other highlights of the trip included the famous Vienna Philharmonic Ball, as well as guided tours of the two cities...

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