Melbourne Philharmonia Project was launched with a simple vision, an orchestral movement that truly represented Melbourne’s aspiring classical musicians. Launching MPP took allot of planning but also allot of resources to bring and idea to life. Our executive team up until now has been quite small for what we are. Learning from experience I wanted as small a team to begin with where everyone had a clear role to play. However, we are bringing more exciting people on board to reflect how MPP is expanding. Speaking in plain terms we will have an annual turnover for our first year of about 70k, and how our organisation is run should reflect that. This is our focus for the second half of the year, matching how MPP is run as an organisation to what we are artistically.
Creating a concert from scratch as with anything really revolves around three major aspects, the planning, the preparation and the execution. We had quite a condensed rehearsal period of about two weeks and five rehearsals. Many of the musicians who play in MPP are used to operating on a tight rehearsal schedule with their casual work in professional orchestras. The expectations of a conductor are also heightened. Frankly, the hardest challenge for a young conductor is not our conducting technique, but our rehearsal technique. Although it’s a privilege to be able to create music with your friends, it also presents many challenges. Informing a mate that what they are playing is not quite right and asking for a certain passage to be played differently provides an interesting moral dilemma. However, these musicians are giving up their time to play in an orchestra that I’m conducting. I have a moral obligation to them to make the ensemble the best it can possibly be. I’m also privileged that the members of MPP normally pull me up when I’m doing something that isn’t quite clear. I trust them unconditionally because the orchestra is my greatest teacher, it’s these people that are most affected by what I do.
The rehearsals for our second concert provided different challenges to that of our first. Although Mahler 1 is a technically more difficult piece for the orchestra than Sibelius 1, it’s a constant piece of the symphonic canon. Most of us have either played it or been to a concert where it has been programmed. We were three rehearsals out from the concert and the concert wasn’t quite coming along
as I’d like, most of that was honestly due to me. I had taken way too much on in the two weeks leading up to the concert and my demeanour on the podium reflected that. People around my inner circle knew that I was struggling and honestly not quite with it. But one person in particular went out of her way to lend a helping hand: Michelle Wood of the MSO and Tin Alley Quartet reached out to me and offered her expertise for our last couple of rehearsals. Through experience, she knew exactly what the orchestra needed. It was a massive wake-up call for me as a young conductor, in terms of what an orchestra needs from a conductor but also its’ leader. She not only inspired the orchestra but also lit that fire inside me for those last few days and concert night.
Although“Solitary Pathways” presented many new challenges it was undoubtedly a success. A smaller orchestra due to instrumentation but a larger attendance. We had an audience of 215 for our first concert but for our second concert we had an audience of 250. What we said we’d do on a larger scale we executed very well and even got a rave review in Cut Common. However, it’s the smaller things that we as an organisation need to work on and myself as an Artistic Director need to develop. Our next concert experience will feature some truly world class musicians and collaborators that we can’t wait to reveal. In saying that, the expectations of MPP as an organisation will be much greater but I’ve got no doubt that I have the team and musicians behind me to match the hype.