By Bonnie Grech
Take three professionally trained musicians who met through teaching in the inner west.
Add a collective sense of lament when they discover a gap in their musical lives, and the next thing they’re hatching one big creative idea.
Elisa Kelly is a classically trained violinist and former teacher turned small business owner, Emma Rudin is also a classically trained violinist and local music teacher, and Alison Farr is a former opera singer turned Assistant Principal at a local Primary School. Each of them are inner west residents with strong ties to, and great passion for, their community.
Before one of their standing regular catch ups, attending a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance, the three friends were enjoying a pre-concert meal when conversation led to Farr’s recent joining of the Essendon Symphony Orchestra. This led to a collective penny drop moment that if something like this existed closer to home, Rudin and Kelly might be joining in too. The trio agreed that it felt like a gap in their local community that there was no local orchestra, and so they decided to explore if they could do something about that.
The trio have spent every spare moment since researching existing community orchestras. They’ve registered IWSO as a not-for-profit organisation, set up an online presence, and established a committee (first meeting pictured, and held recently at Seddon favourite Fig’n’Walnut). They’ve recruited a conductor, established a regular rehearsal space, and set themselves a deadline: to launch the Inner West Symphony Orchestra in October with first rehearsals and a ‘meet and greet’.
The Inner West Symphony Orchestra is the first community orchestra in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The west has a strong brass band tradition that continues to flourish, but many residents with a background in classical orchestral training have had limited opportunities.
Rudin, Kelly and Farr are motivated by their sense that the lack of a local option creates a barrier to musical participation.
Early response to the Inner West Symphony Orchestra has been hugely encouraging, inspiring remarks in the first online survey such as: ‘I’ve been wanting to do something like this for ages’ and ‘I haven’t played my instrument properly for a while but would really like to give this a go’.
Many survey respondents indicated they’d completed University level study with their instruments but had not played in an orchestra for years due to various other commitments or barriers. The online survey remains open and ongoing feedback is encouraged whilst plans progress.
Two ‘meet and greet’ sessions are set for the weeks leading up to this, giving prospective new members the opportunity to get to know each other before a first rehearsal, in earnest, with Andrew.
‘We want people to feel welcome to come and have a play, even if they’re a bit out of practise or unsure,’ said Kelly.
Inner West Symphony Orchestra
REHEARSING 7pm–9.30pm Monday, during school terms, from October at Footscray Primary School
CONDUCTOR Andrew Leach, Yarraville resident, former Director of Music, Westbourne Grammar School