Fine Music 102.5 will continue broadcasts of the 17 semi-finalists in the 2016 Young Virtuoso Awards throughout April. There will be four performers featured in this month’s program including Laura Chung, Wendy Kong, Robbin Reza and John Keene. On offer are cash prizes, live-to-air broadcasts and a chance to perform with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the North Sydney Youth Symphony.
Laura Chung – Flute
Twenty-year-old Laura Chung is undertaking a combined Music and Medicine degree at the University of Sydney and studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Emma Sholl, Associate Principal Flute of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. “A regional tour was definitely one of the highlights of 2015. Trying to give your best performance every night in a different venue for two weeks was challenging but it was an incredible learning experience. “Playing principal flute in Stravinsky’s Firebird at AISOI was also another highlight. It seemed like a dream come true that I was given a chance to play my favourite orchestral work,” Chung tells Fine Music magazine. She was principal flute of the Bishop and Alexander Orchestras at the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp. She has studied with Denis Bouriakov, Principal Flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; William Bennett from the Royal Academy Music; Leone Buyse from Rice University; Lorna Magee; Margaret Crawford; and Virginia Taylor. “I am entering the YVA because I think it is a wonderful opportunity to learn and perform new repertoire to the best of my ability,” said Chung.
Wendy Kong -Violin
Twenty-year-old Wendy Kong, who completed her secondary school studies with Charmian Gadd and Robin Wilson, is currently a full scholarship recipient at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Ole Bohn. She made her solo orchestral debut with the Sutherland Shire Symphony Orchestra at the age of 14, has performed with many orchestras in Australia, winning many competitions, including the 36th National Youth Concerto Competition and the Sydney Eisteddfod Doctors Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship. Kong says: “I think it’s very important to be well-rounded musician. I have been the Concertmaster of the Sydney Conservatorium Orchestra and attended a Chamber Music Festival in Italy with my string quartet. I feel that the Young Virtuoso Award is very unique in that we are able to make a recording through the process of the competition. “Recording opportunities are rare and I think it will be a great experience to be able to record in a professional environment.”
Robbin Reza – Piano
Robbin Reza, 21, is in his third year of a BMus (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, studying with Daniel Herscovitch. Winner of many prestigious Awards and Scholarships, notably the NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition; a finalist in the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, the Sydney Eisteddfod Allison/Henderson Piano Scholarship, the Theme and Variations Foundation; and best overall pianist scholarship and the Irene Hope Gibson Award. Reza says his musical ‘highlights’ come from fulfilling his goals, “whether it be big, like winning a major competition or small, like finally being able to play a passage I have been working on for so long, and the feeling of satisfaction you get after that”. “I love learning new works that keeps me going on and on. Standouts were playing with the Kuringai Philharmonic and traveling to Melbourne for the ABC YPA finals.” Having been a semi-finalist before, Reza speaks from experience when he says that every musician participating in the YVA brings something unique, “something of their own”.
John Keene – Double Bass
John Keene, 19, an SSO Fellow, is in his second year of a BMus (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music studying with SSO Principal Double Bass Alex Henery. He says that being selected as the youngest ever Sydney Symphony Fellow was “quite special” and “a shock”. “All the experiences that followed within the program were amazing, such as the opportunity to play with the Sydney Symphony, to play six chamber music concerts with the other fellows and to receive private tutelage from the SSO musicians,” he says. Conducting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in a workshop was also an unexpected highlight for Keene, who will also this year make his concerto debut with the Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra. “The YVA, which is highly reputed in musical circles is allowing me to further extend my musical pursuits and education. Requiring me to present a recital, is a great incentive to push myself to perfect pieces in a short period of time,” said Keene.
– Judy Deacon