I’ve been living in Canberra for 81 days. 1944 hours. 116,640 minutes. I’ve spent 45…
A career as a world-famous musician and comedian may not have been what a young Tim Ferguson expected all those years ago when he was out and about busking in Civic.
But Canberra’s arts scene provided the perfect platform for the Doug Anthony All Stars and many other musicians to thrive.
The Doug Anthony All Stars famously found their footing as street performers in Garema Place, and Ferguson recommends busking to any budding musician.
“It livens up the windswept plazas, and can provide pocket money in exchange for music practice. Of course, you don’t have to set fire to yourselves and steal peoples shopping bags for ransom like we did,” Ferguson, Music for Canberra’s Patron, says.
For Helena Popovic, the Canberra Youth Orchestra’s concertmaster, a fundraising event at the Austrian Embassy proved a turning point in her career.
Popovic came to Canberra to study music and law at the ANU in 2014 and began playing in local concerts and shows. Prior to that, she had a long association with the music scene in Sydney.
While playing for the Friends of the School of Music at the Austrian Embassy, Popovic met CYO’s conductor Leonard Weiss.
“When the orchestra started auditioning for new players, Leonard asked me to audition for concertmaster,” she says. She soon found herself in a leadership role with CYO, by providing a critical liaison point between the orchestra and conductor, as well as musically.
Trish Delaney-Brown, one of the founding members of The Idea of North, also kick-started her musical career in the nation’s capital.
I asked Delaney-Brown what had first piqued her interest in music and how it came to be that a local Canberra girl eventually went on to become part of one of Australia’s most awarded a cappella groups with an international music career.
Growing up in Canberra, Delaney-Brown says she felt that the city was “big enough to provide a myriad of opportunities, but small enough that you could find your audience and create interest more easily than perhaps in the bigger Australian cities”.
Delaney-Brown said she’d originally never thought of pursuing a career in music, and was set to join the air force, like her Dad. But then, with the support and encouragement of high school music teachers, she was accepted into the ANU School of Music, spent a year of preliminary classical studies before moving to jazz, and meeting the friends who would become the original members of The Idea of North.
And now, this Saturday night, one of the most exciting orchestral concerts of the year will hit the stage at the ANU’s Llewellyn Hall, as the Canberra Youth Orchestra and The Idea of North come together in a concert that marks the start of a year of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the CYO.
The Idea of North will join CYO in a sensational evening of jazz and theatre favourites including It Don’t Mean a Thing, Send in the Clowns and Mas Que Nada. Delaney-Brown will join the vocal ensemble she helped to found, as special guest soprano replacing Sally Cameron for this concert.
Delaney-Brown says the audience can expect “a night of tight harmony with luscious strings with all of the trademark humour, intricate harmony, fun and infectious stage presence of The Idea of North plus the energy and talent of the young orchestra members AND a chance to wear floor length gowns,” says Delaney-Brown. “I can’t wait!”
Popovic promises that the “now huge” orchestra will “thrill and excite”.
“We are also honoured to be working with the fantastic Idea of North. Everyone will be singing along, I’m sure!,” Popovic enthuses.
As for Ferguson, he encourages young musicians in Canberra to dream big.
“I spent some teenage years in this bouncy city. Young Canberrans have many options for originating and presenting work. My friends and I started our comedy trio in Canberra. We still tour the world. Anything can happen!”
What: The Idea of North
When: Saturday, 8 April 2017 at 7:30 pm
Where: Llewellyn Hall, ANU
Tickets: ADULT $25 \ CONC. $15 \ FAMILY $65 \ MEMBERS $12. Purchase tickets online at Ticketek.