Current and past students collaborate in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance

During the recent term break, Year 12 student, Chloe Shieh, performed in Spinifex Gum concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The concerts highlighted the Marliya choir, Gondwana voices and vocalists in celebration of NAIDOC week. Excitingly, Chloe and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra were conducted by Old Collegian, Benjamin Northey (1988).

During his time as a student at Clarendon, Ben was significantly involved in the music department, having been Music Captain in his final year. Now, Ben is the Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with which he has had a relationship for over 19 years.

“It is very rare to see students perform with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra,” said Ben. “It was wonderful to have Chloe play with us for the Spinifex Gum concerts. I always enjoy watching young players learn and work with a professional orchestra and having Chloe play with us was particularly special knowing that she is a Clarendon student.”

Chloe started learning piano when she was three years old. Her piano teacher encouraged her to play a second instrument and, after tossing up between the harp and violin, she chose violin lessons at the age of seven. Since then, she has played solo in many international competitions and in ensembles as concertmaster of the Flagship Melbourne Youth Orchestra.

“I always see my life with music as I have such an extensive playing history from a young age,” said Chloe. “I hope to pursue my musical ambitions by teaching aspiring musicians and playing in professional ensembles. Many Melbourne Symphony Orchestra violinists have encouraged me to audition for their orchestra.”

When speaking to Ben during her time playing in Spinifex Gum, Chloe admired his leadership and advice for her as a budding musician.

“I find it fascinating that in a large domain of music you can meet people who are similar to you,” said Chloe. When I was five, I attended a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert and Ben chose me to conduct the orchestra. Since then, he has inspired me for many years and shown me that anything is possible. I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to perform with him in Spinifex Gum.”

When asked by Chloe what advice he would provide students wishing to pursue a career in music, Ben responded with the following.

“If you can’t imagine your life without making music full time, then go for it,” said Ben. “It is a very competitive and challenging life as a musician, but it is so worth it!”