Symphony for the soul
It’s Tasmania’s Symphony Orchestra and it belongs to our whole community, which is why the orchestra is on a mission to inspire more Tasmanians – young and old – through music.
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra [TSO] not only produces world-class concerts and recordings, it’s also very much part of the community fabric.
And, under the guidance of new TSO Director Caroline Sharpen, who took over in January, expect the orchestra to broaden its audience and impact by stepping up its grass-roots involvement.
“We always say music in life is just such a force for good,” Caroline enthuses.
“Music provides that moment to be able to sit still and listen, and be with something that is special and unique to you. It is also a beautiful shared experience between the audience and the musicians.
“Our greatest wish is to give every Tasmanian the opportunity to come and hear the TSO and be inspired and uplifted.”
Every February thousands of Tasmanians grab a chair and gather for Symphony under the Stars.
These two free concerts in Hobart and Launceston are the TSO’s flagship community events, and this year they drew a combined crowd of 11,000 people.
There are also other TSO community initiatives: a partnership with Hobart’s Risdon Prison involves music programs with inmates and family concerts, while hundreds of free symphony tickets are distributed each year to disadvantaged Tasmanians through Access Tix.
“The TSO is not just an orchestra for wealthy people who can afford to attend the Concert Hall,” Caroline explains. “It’s Tasmania’s Symphony Orchestra, and it belongs to the broader Tasmanian community.”
In line with that mantra, the TSO takes its music into regional Tasmania. And this is one aspect of community engagement that Caroline is especially keen to expand.
Recently, the TSO performed before a full house in the Huon Valley as part of the Bushfire Recovery weekend. They also stage concerts in small towns like Scottsdale, New Norfolk, Roseberry and Geeveston, where many in the audience are seeing a symphony orchestra for the very first time.
Now Caroline wants the TSO to be part of life in those communities.
“We want our musicians to go into these places and inspire up-and-coming musicians, and to learn what local music groups and music teachers need, and how best we can support them.
“Our vision is for Tasmanians in all areas of the state to be supported by their orchestra.”
Caroline is a big believer in the power of music.
In fact, she clearly recalls how her first exposure to the TSO at the tender age of 7 was a powerful experience.
At the time Caroline was learning the piano version of ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and “lo and behold they played that theme music at the concert, and hearing it played by a full symphony orchestra was just magical,” she says.
“That was a pivotal moment, because it suddenly awakened me to orchestral music.”
Music went on to play a central role in her life. First as a conservatorium trained pianist, and then as an arts administrator.
And, now as custodian of one of Tasmania’s most loved institutions, Caroline wants the TSO to inspire others, just like it first inspired her all those years ago.
“The TSO really sets the benchmark for every artistic endeavour in the State. It’s a beacon of excellence for every young child who picks up an instrument,” she explains.
“Tasmania feels a genuine pride, and a genuine ownership over the TSO’s success and what it says about Tasmania nationally and internationally."
Images courtesy of the TSO
24 June 2019, Edition 206