Future stars? 

• Aaron Ooi

16-YEAR-OLD violinist Aaron Ooi is one of the gifted musicians taking to the stage next month when the Australian Youth Orchestra play Perth for the first time in more than a decade.

Featuring some of the best classical musicians aged 12 to 25 from across Australia, the orchestra is a hotbed of future stars and precocious talent.

Growing up in Perth, Ooi started playing violin when he was seven and quickly discovered he had a flair for the instrument.

After doing well in music competitions in Greater Perth and progressing through youth ensembles, he secured a coveted spot in the WA Youth Orchestra, and this year was appointed their concert master.

Ooi says one of his favourite pieces to perform with the orchestra is The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky.

“Stravinsky evokes the feeling of anticipation and drive, whilst also blending beautifully melodic lines within the piece,” he says.

“This piece is quite demanding as it is rhythmically challenging.”

His favourite solo violin piece is Bordel 1900 by Astor Piazzolla.

“This was one of the first pieces that pushed me to perform with much more presence and meaning,” Ooi says.

“The piece was composed with three other movements which describe the history and evolution of the tango, thus the name of the collection Histoire De Tango (History of the Tango).

“It was especially fun to play with the piano accompaniment, as both parts explored percussive rhythms and vibrant melodies.”

Ooi is also learning Sonata No.3 Ballade by Ysaye and says he is leaning toward becoming a solo artist. He will need all his skills when the AYO take to the stage in Perth to tackle Mahler’s heart-wrenching Adagietto movement from his Fifth Symphony, and Shostakovich’s tempestuous Tenth Symphony.

Now in its 75th year, the AYO has a rich history and over the years has been a key training ground for many professional musicians and classical music stars.

The WA Academy of Performing Arts are heavily involved with students and graduates serving as mentors. Ooi had to undergo a rigorous audition to get a place in the elite AYO, which includes two other WA musicians – Morley violinist Jasmine Middleton (25) and trombonist Jeremy Mazurek (24) originally from Osborne Park. “The best part about playing in an orchestra with younger musicians is that I have the ability to meet people around my age, who have the same interests as me,” Ooi says.

“We are able to collaborate and learn from each other, improving together as an ensemble.”

Ooi practices the violin about 1.5 hours each day, leaving time to learn two other instruments and do some homework.

“In my spare time, I like to play basketball, go for runs and produce music,” he says.

“When I’m feeling lazier, I prefer playing video games, watching tv or sleeping.”

Conducted by Eivind Aadland, The Australian Youth Orchestra is at The Perth Concert Hall on Friday April 14 at 7.30pm. Tix at perthconcerthall.com.au/events/event/ayo-in-concert


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