New Online Orchestra to Mark AMEB’s Centenary

Graham Strahle
| May 7, 2018

The AMEB is celebrating its centenary this year with a project that it hopes will suitably mark and celebrate its contribution to music education. Underway is its AMEB Online Orchestra in which anyone from around Australia, irrespective of their level of playing, can participate. Going by the motto ‘a nation united by music’, it is a landmark project that brings the AMEB firmly into the wider community.

It works like this. Individual students, schools and community groups are invited to record themselves on video playing or singing Waltzing Matilda. First one prints out a notated part for one’s chosen instrument or vocal range, selecting easy or intermediate versions according to one’s ability. A click track also has to be downloaded for listening over headphones while one makes the video recording. Then it is just a matter of uploading the video – instructions are all here.

All the recordings will spliced into a final performance video that will be launched on the big screen at Melbourne’s Federation Square on 12 September and released online.

Ambassadors for the orchestra are Benjamin Northey, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s associate conductor, and concert pianist Ambre Hammond, who is also a UN Peace Ambassador. She will perform live at the launch event.

The AMEB says its Online Orchestra is the first of its kind in Australia. It materialised from ‘blue sky thinking’ that general manager Bernard de Pasquale explains involved workshops with staff and an external facilitator in preparation for the organisation’s centenary year.

“We wanted a project that reflected AMEB in a numbers of ways,” says de Pasquale. One was inclusivity: “we wanted everyone to be able to participate in this project. So whatever instrument you play, if you’re a singer, if you’re in an ensemble or choir, there is an arrangement to suit your standard.”

Community involvement was another, he says.

“AMEB is a big community of parents, teachers, musicians, examiners and students and we wanted to have a project that any and all of them could be involved in that had a music focus, of course, but that also had a positive outcome that they will be able to see, keep and remember.”

The AMEB Online Orchestra benefits from the experience that the organisation has gained in digital technology in its online administration of theory exams and the delivery of its many online course, publications and recordings.

De Pasquale says he is keen for participants to “show off their special part of Australia”, so he encourages them to film their videos “in their home or school in the bush, in their urban alleyway and so on.”

Entries will officially close on Wednesday 18 July.

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