String orchestra is visiting Healesville

ACO Collective. Picture: MARIA BOYADGIS

By Dongyun Kwon

The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) is presenting at The Memo, Healesville on Saturday 11 May. 

ACO Collective is the ACO’s critically acclaimed string ensemble that brings together musicians of the ACO with Australia’s most talented young professional string players to create a high-energy string orchestra.  

ACO Collective’s new tour ACO Collective: The Lark Ascending is landing in Victoria in May.

ACO principal violin Helena Rathbone, who is also the director of the tour, said she’s excited to come back to Victoria.

“Every year, we go around the country auditioning young players and we accept between six and eight young players that are mentored by ACO musicians and then we invite a few alumni and make a group into 17 string players,” she said.

The string ensemble will take the audience on a journey of many different emotions. 

Ms Rathbone said the concert will start with Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade which is very exuberant sparkling Italian music.

“Max Richter [On the Nature of Daylight] is very ethereal, you can close your eyes and drift off. It’s very relaxing. Let the music wash over you. It’s a very different feeling from the very first piece,” she said.

“And Henry Purcell [Fantazia upon One Note] is a little calming piece. It’s extraordinary to think that this music can be played alongside something that was written so many centuries afterwards and it still works.

“Then the completely brand new piece Anne Cawrse [Falling Upward (World Premiere)] has a lot of movement.”

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending is the last performance before the 20-minute interval, which is the most well-known piece of the whole program.

“It’s British folk music which is a violin solo with string accompaniment and it’s very beautiful and ethereal,” Ms Rathbone said.

After the interval, the concert will have two more performances, Josef Suk’s Serenade for Strings, which is the principal violin’s favourite string orchestra piece, and Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa. 

The tour will start from Melbourne, through Bendigo and Healesville to Cowes, and move to New South Wales to have a few more concerts.  

Ms Rathbone said the young players would learn a lot throughout the tour.

‘There are a number of concerts. It means that the young players can play this program a number of times and it’s a good way for them to learn to play in a group,” she said.

“It’s good for them and their development.

“That development is very important for the young players and it’s very important for us to go into the regional venues and play in the regions in Australia rather than just the capital cities.”

The ACO has concerts and a masterclass at the TarraWarra Museum of Art every year.

ACO Collective is going to take the masterclass instead of students from the Australian National Academy of Music who usually take it.

“During our rehearsal period in Melbourne, we’re going to have a short trip down to Healesville and play at the beginning of the TarraWarra Festival,” the tour director said.

Tickets are available at the Yarra Ranges Council’s website,