19 January, 2024

Secondary student perform with the Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia

Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia - Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia
Secondary student perform with the Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia
Jayden, Year 11 shares his reflections on his participation in a camp organised by the Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia. He recounts his journey, from the excitement of being selected to the various activities and experiences during the camp.

On the 10th of July, I was informed that there was going to be a camp hosted by the Philharmonic Winds of Malaysia (PWM) when I was contemplating whether or not I should audition for SSYO's Swan Lake orchestra that was going to be performing at school in December. The camp was an exciting opportunity for musicians between 13 to 22 years old to work and play together alongside PWM players and consisted of 6 days of ensemble training such as rehearsals, sectionals, workshops and even getting to perform in concerts. We had a little over a month to practice the most difficult excerpts from First suite in Eb and some scales, all of which would be judged by professional musicians from PWM and on the 30th of September I got an email saying that I got in.

In total, there were 200 auditions, with only 50 people getting in. I was thrilled to find that I was playing the solo clarinet part for our main piece, First suite in Eb, as well as 1st part for most of the other pieces. Attached to the email was also the clarinet roster which listed the other 5 participants that were going to be playing alongside me as well as the pieces that we were going to be playing: First suite in Eb, Courtly airs and dances, Breeze in the Forest, Minor Alterations, Jingle bells fantasy, Christmas and Sousa forever and a chamber piece selected by our tutor (Takacs' Serenade arranged for Clarinet quartet movements 1, 2 and 6). The selection was very interesting as we had to learn to play a bunch of different styles, such as the dances from different countries in Courtly airs and dances and even learning to accompany the principal flautist from PWM in Breeze in the Forest!

I had a lot of solos, most notably in the 2nd movement of First suite in Eb and during the start of Minor Alterations. In preparation for the camp, I practiced for 4 hours every day the week before the camp to ensure that I could play most of the pieces. On the first day of the camp, we had a sectional from 8.30 to 12.30 with our tutor from PWM, Mr Alex. He gave us a lot of insightful advice that helped me improve my playing during both chamber and windband pieces. At the end of our sectional, Mr Eric, the conductor of PWM and this camp who I met from a clarinet masterclass and windband workshop earlier this year, discussed with Mr Alex and decided to make me concertmaster. After coming back from our lunch break, we started to rehearse First suite in Eb but before that, Mr Eric talked to us about balancing and blending our sound as we had 6 tubas, 4 oboes, 10 flutes and 6 clarinets.

He continued to share his knowledge about music with us throughout our rehearsals over the 6 days of the camp, which helped improve my tone colour and intonation as well as various other skills a lot as he was one of the best teachers I have ever met. In addition, the pieces were challenging as a lot of them were composed for professional windbands and allowed me to experience firsthand what playing and training in an ensemble with professional musicians feels like. We had 2 concerts on the last day which added to the feeling of professionalism. I also got to socialise with a lot of different musicians there, mostly university students that missed the joy of playing in their highschool windband. Apparently, a lot of government schools get their students to train for hours every other day for competitions which forces them to self-learn their instrument. Overall, this was the highlight of my 2023 as it was a refreshing opportunity to challenge and stretch myself during our rehearsals from 9 to 5 (and sometimes to 7 depending on our slot for sectionals). By far one of the funniest pieces to rehearse was the 5th movement of Courtly airs and dances as everyone (apart from some of us including me) had to sing.