Year 11 student and tuba player, Harvey Whittaker, recently joined other talented young musicians from across the country at an Australian Youth Orchestra’s Young Symphonists residential event in Toowoomba, Queensland. Over the course of a week, Harvey was mentored by some of Australia’s most respected musical directors and tutors.
The Young Symphonists programme is a good complement to the various training and performance options available at Melbourne Grammar School, according to Harvey. “The Young Symphonists programme gave me an opportunity to get a better understanding of how life in an actual orchestra might be,” explains Harvey. “I also liked meeting new people who shared my interests.”
The Australian Youth Orchestra is a not for profit organisation which aims to provide professional leadership and inspiration to talented young Australian musicians. Entry into the prestigious Young Symphonists programme is highly competitive, with only 60 places available nationwide. Harvey was required to demonstrate both his technical proficiency and musicianship through an audition to gain a place in the programme.
Participating in workshops and rehearsals from morning until evening, Harvey was given intensive training across a highly challenging orchestral repertoire which culminated in one closed and one public performance.
“I enjoyed working in the smaller sectional and ensemble groups as the main aim was to learn how to play with each other, rather than by yourself. People were really supportive of each other,” explains Harvey. “Each sectional group and ensemble had expert directors guiding them through set pieces, while also working to improve individual sound quality.”
A keen mathematician, Harvey sees a connection between music and maths. “Both disciplines involve the application of knowledge in a specified way. You essentially follow a process to get a known outcome, and if you change aspects of the process, you will arrive at a different solution. The challenge is understanding the process well enough to step outside it in a sensible way,” he says.
Although Harvey’s future plans are not confirmed, music is likely to remain part of his life, either as the focus of his career or alongside an alternate career path.