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Weekend highlights: Melbourne’s Orchestre Nouveau presents Terraneous

Iona Salter

Thu Aug 11 2011

Zach Tay and Orchestre Nouveau are showing classical music fans what a new generation has to offer.

Zach Tay and Orchestre Nouveau are showing classical music fans what a new generation has to offer.

PICTURE this scene. It is the 1770s, and a youthful Wolfgang Mozart is standing out the front of the Academia Filarmonica, qualification in hand, thinking: “well…what on earth do I do now?”

Okay, it probably didn’t happen exactly like that.

But even the oldest and most respected names in music were once young men and women, with dreams and doubts for their future.

For Malaysian-born Zach Tay, who graduated from Melbourne University with a Masters of orchestral conducting in 2008, the years between university and a professional career are the hardest.

He says there are good opportunities for young composers in Australia, particularly for writing film scores, but a more traditional career in classical composition is tough to pursue.

“It’s not an easy route, not many people take it,” he says.

To make the route that little bit easier, Melbourne’s Orchestre Nouveau has been showcasing young classical talent since its inception two-and-a-half years ago.

Tay, who conducts Orchestre Nouveau, says it gives young performers and composers an opportunity to refine their art.

“It’s a bit of encouragement, a bit of support, to keep going until they get noticed [and] perform on the world stage,” he says.

“These young composers, their perspective on classical music is very different.

“It is much more experimental, it is very innovative.

“They produce very different sound effects with very traditional instruments.”

Conductor Zach Tay with Orchestra Nouveau

This Saturday, Orchestre Nouveau will perform the works of two such innovative composers – James Wade and Annie Hsieh – at Kew’s Holy Trnity Anglican Church.

The pair, also Melbourne University graduates, have both taken inspiration from nature, hence the title of Saturday’s performance – Terraneous.

“[Hsieh’s piece] is about the disintegration of an iceberg,” Tay says.

“It’s a commentary on how something so big just disappears, and there’s a very subtle commentary on climate change as well.”

Wade’s piece was inspired by his visit to Te Matua Ngahere, believed to be New Zealand’s oldest tree.

“The music describes the landscape, it describes his experience with nature, and how ancient it all is,” Tay says.

Orchestre Nouveau will perform Terraneous at 3pm, Saturday August 13 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Kew. Visit their website for more information.