Archive for June 2010

Tasmania Discovery Orchestra Meets Stephen Schwartz

June 22, 2010

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of playing with the Tasmania Discovery Orchestra in  An Evening with Stephen Schwartz as part of the Festival of Broadway.

The Tasmania Discovery Orchestra (TDO) is an initiative of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and came into being in March of this year. It is an orchestra designed to offer musicians with advanced orchestral instrument skills the opportunity to come together and make great music in Hobart, Tasmania. Entry is by audition.

Stephen-SchwartzThe rehearsal arrangement is designed to encourage interstate players and so is quite compact.  We had five rehearsals: two on Thursday, two on Friday, and one on Saturday, followed by the concert.

Stephen Schwartz is an extremely talented musician and lyricist. It was a delight to see and hear him,  both in interview and performing. The interviewer for the night was Michael A Kerker, the Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). 

Schwartz’ description of the writing process was quite illuminating. It is very easy to have the impression that composers or lyricists sit down and just write what comes to them in an unending flow.  This idea was soon corrected as Schwartz told of many incidences of having to write and re-write until he was satisfied with the end result.

Later on he played a piece he had re-worked, in its original form, at the piano. He then went on to play the second re-write and finally the third, explaining along the way his reasoning for changing the lyrics and the eventual title of the song.  All this was done completely without written music!

Soloists at the concert included some absolutely amazing singers: Liz Callaway, Michael Rose, Silvie Paladino, Adrian Li Donni, Ben Davidson, Julie O’Reilly and Michael Lampard. Musical numbers were from Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, Children of Eden, The Baker’s Wife, Rags and Wicked.

The first Australian performance of two excerpts from Schwartz’ first opera, Séance On A Wet Afternoon, were also performed by Julie O’Reilly and Ben Davidson. The opera premiered at the Opera Santa Barbara late last year and will be performed  in Australia in 2011.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening and a thrill to be in the orchestra for such a pleasurable event.


AMEB Online Exam Centre goes live

June 1, 2010

 AMEB screenshotThe AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) online examination website is now live. Take a look here.  There is a sample paper for you to complete (Grade 1 level) to get an idea of how it works. Plus a sample tutorial.

Initial registration is free, requiring your name and contact details plus username and password. Once registered you can log in and, at some future date, buy an exam. Once you have bought an exam you will have an exam key to enable viewing of tutorials and practice exams.

Examinations available to buy are in the following syllabuses:

  • Music Craft
  • Theory of Music
  • Musicianship
  • Speech and Performance

The syllabus requirements for each of these can be found in the drop down list under the syllabuses link. They are in the form of a scrolling page from the current AMEB manual. Very handy! The print is a little on the small side but as they are in pdf format there is ample option to resize for better viewing. The ‘Speech and Performance’ link is not working at present.

To run the examination on your computer you will need Microsoft Windows PC (XP or higher) or a Mac with a modern web browser and the shockwave plugin.  Regarding the type of browser, I quote the from the FAQ section of the site:

“On Microsoft Windows the software works with Internet Explorer 7 or better, Firefox or Google Chrome. On Mac computers the software runs best in Safari and Firefox. If you choose to use Safari, your browser will crash at the end of an examination when you send the results. The good news is that the crash always occurs after the data has been sent and your results will be waiting for you when you log back in.”

Taking the exam requires a Supervisor who must be present for the whole time.  Supervisor protocol can be found here

The next step, which I am very much looking forward to, is being able to enter the practical exams online too. Well done AMEB!

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