Fifteen of Australia’s rising classical music stars will participate in the orchestra’s intensive training programme.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has announced the names of the 15 musicians who will take part in its Fellowship programme in 2017. The Fellows will spend a year with the orchestra in an intensive training programme that will include working with SSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director David Robertson, rehearsing and performing with the SSO, receiving lessons with SSO musicians and participating in masterclasses with the orchestra’s guest artists across the year.

“This year 15 highly talented young musicians are about to have one of the best years of their lives, as participants in the only full-time training programme for emerging professional musicians in Australia,” Fellowship Artistic Director (and Principal viola) Roger Benedict told Limelight. “It will be hard work but they have a lot to look forward to: playing on the Sydney Opera House stage alongside their SSO mentors, playing chamber music with great artists like Anthony Marwood, touring regional NSW and playing to the widest possible audience – in settings as diverse as a corporate boardroom and a maximum security prison. I can’t wait to share the journey with them.”

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 2017 Fellows. Photo by Keith Saunders.

The SSO’s Fellowship programme is highly competitive, with hundreds of musicians applying every year from Australia and New Zealand, and the programme boasts alumni in orchestras across the planet. “Becoming part of the fellowship programme this year means the world to me!” this year’s flute Fellow Kim Falconer told Limelight. “It’s an enormous privilege to be part of such a nurturing, enriching and inspiring environment where I not only get to play fabulous chamber music with my Fellowship-colleagues, but also become part of a full-time professional orchestra.”

“I am really looking forward to a number of programme with the SSO this year, including the concerts with Charles Dutoit, but also some of the more commercial programmes like the Harry Potter concerts,” she added. “It’s incredibly exciting to play in the SSO with world-class musicians and to hear them creating amazing music around me. I then have to pinch myself when I remember that I’m also playing in no-less than the Sydney Opera House! It’s certainly going to be a fantastic year.”

Viola Fellow Martin Alexander, also from Victoria, is just as excited. “I’m ecstatic to have been selected for the SSO’s Fellowship programme,” he said. “It feels like the perfect bridge into professional music making. I can’t wait to play on stage with my other fellows – especially at the end of the year with Anthony Marwood!”

“I’m absolutely over the moon to have been selected for the Fellowship,” said clarinet Fellow David McGregor. “I was in a rehearsal when I received the news that I’d been accepted and nearly dropped my phone with excitement! I’m really looking forward to working with the inspiring musicians from the SSO, as well as my Fellowship colleagues.”

The future looks bright for the Fellows, with an independent report released last year showing that 86% of alumni since the programme began in 2001 are working in orchestras in Australia and overseas. “I can’t wait to get to know these young musicians and get started on our journey together,” said Benedict. “We aim to help equip our fellows with the tools they need to sustain long and fruitful careers as professional musicians, careers that will likely last over 40 years. We want them to be job-ready and able to win an audition for a place in an orchestra like ours, but more importantly we want them to be inspiring, imaginative and innovative artists who are able to transform lives through music.”

The full list of Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2017 Fellows:

Gemma Lee, 21, violin (NSW)

Bridget O’Donnell, 24, violin (ACT)

Martin Alexander, 26, viola (VIC)

Joseph Cohen, 22, viola (NSW)

Nils Hobiger, 24, cello (VIC)

Ruben Palma, 27, cello (NSW)

Alanna Jones, 28, double bass (NZ)

Kim Falconer, 24, flute (VIC)

Joshua Oates, 24, oboe (SA)

David McGregor, 24, clarinet (TAS)

Christopher Haycroft, 23, bassoon (VIC)

Alice Yang, 26, horn (NSW)

Jenna Smith, 22, trumpet (NSW)

Amanda Tillett, 23, trombone (SA)

Samuel Butler, 22, percussion (SA)