From Dubbo to Batehaven

After an early flight from Melbourne to Sydney, we boarded a tiny Dash-8 plane bound for Dubbo. IMG_2564
These planes aren’t for the faint-hearted - on a windy day like this one, the aircraft is thrown around from side to side, with stomach-lurching dips and drops. Even I applauded when the pilot landed the plane in one piece at Dubbo airport!

I knew very little about Dubbo before this visit, but I was really impressed with what a vibrant and cosmopolitan community it seems to have! We ate lunch at a cafe that featured healthy, fresh ingredients from the Paleo diet, followed by a very good coffee - much better than you can find in most country towns in Germany!

In the afternoon, I gave a masterclass to string students from the Dubbo Regional Conservatorium. Nine violin, viola and cello students played for me in total, and were observed by a roomful of parents and teachers. It was lovely to meet them all and share a few technical tips and bits of performance advice with them. I remember playing in masterclasses like that when I was a child - I know how nerve-racking it can be to get up and play in front of a room full of your colleagues and teachers, then publicly receive criticism from a complete stranger, especially when you haven’t performed much before. I tried to hone in on one particular aspect of each student’s playing that could help them improve, but to stay encouraging at the same time. I think one of the most important aspects of learning an instrument is to keep children’s enthusiasm for music alive. If kids like doing something, they will want to do it more. The more they like playing, the more they will practice, and the more they will improve.

That evening we performed a concert at the Dubbo Regional Conservatoire. Our program was Haydn E major, Mendelssohn C minor, Elena Kats-Chernin Wild Swans, and Schubert B flat major Trio. The concert went well, despite the sweltering heat and humidity - we were all soaked with sweat by the interval! The audience was great - I think there must have been over 200 people there, and they ALL gave us a standing ovation at the end of the concert! It was great to see so many young people in the audience, including several of the children who had played in the masterclass for me that afternoon.

The following morning, we woke up early for a much less-turbulent Dash-8 flight back to Sydney, followed by a long, scenic drive down the coast to Bateman’s Bay. This felt more like a holiday than work - we stopped in at a beautiful wood-fired bakery in Berry for lunch...
Followed by a swim and a walk in the sunshine at the beautiful beach in Mollymook:


Before finally arriving at the destination of our Batehaven concert:


Yep, life on tour is pretty tough!

The Batehaven concert went really well, and the Batehaven Music Society audience was fantastic! They seemed to really love the concert. Here’s an extract from the review of our performance:

RAVE REVIEW! There is no better way that I can think of to head this review of an absolutely stunning concert! All aspects of the presentation were outstanding from the planning of a very well balanced and demanding programme to the execution of the same.
The choice of works and their juxtaposition in the programme was excellent. The addition of Elena Kats-Chernin’s Wild Swans suite provided a delightful contrast to the two major trios by Schubert and Mendelssohn. It was a demanding programme physically, emotionally and technically and Benjamin Kopp (piano), Emma Jardine (violin) and Julian Smiles (cello) proved themselves more than equal to the challenge presented.
(You can read the rest of the review at if you’re interested).

Here’s a video of us playing the first movement of the Mendelssohn C minor Trio in Batehaven:

We were sad to bid Julian Smiles adieu afterwards - this was his last concert with us for this tour, as now he will rejoin his quartet, the Goldner Quartet, to perform at the 2013 Musica Viva Festival. It was such a pleasure to work with him!

Now on to Melbourne, where we will meet up with our next cellist, Elena Cheah, who is flying out from Berlin to perform the last five Australian concerts of our tour with us, as well as the concert in Dubai on the way home to Berlin.