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10 years of

Building Your Global Dreams

To commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Newcastle Youth Orchestra, and the teachers and musicians who have made that a reality, we are releasing a series of stories to inspire those who dream of pursuing their musical educations overseas.

To commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Newcastle Youth Orchestra, and the teachers and musicians who have made that a reality, this week will see the first of many stories to inspire those who dream of pursuing their musical educations overseas.
While these stories will transport you across continents, they will all have one thing in common - a prelude played by the Newcastle Youth Orchestra.
Entitled “Building Your Global Dreams”, this series will start with the incredible story of Huon Bourne Blue, a local timpanist who is now studying at a Hochschule in Mannheim, Germany.
Like all of the stories to follow, his is an adventure that could only have begun with the tutelage and expertise offered by the NYO and the Newcastle Wind Orchestra.
For any current NYO musicians, their families and the generous community that supports them, these stories will shine a light on what comes between a dream and a reality.
It’s in that space that the NYO has always performed.
It’s from where we want to inspire the next class of globe-trotting, dream-building, NYO alumni.
Every musician is different. Every musical journey is an essential one.
The NYO embodies those differences. It strives to keep playing its essential part in the cultural life of Newcastle.
“It’s not just a question of conquering a summit,” said Mahler, “but of tracing a new pathway to it.”
Follow us on Facebook to find out where these pathways might lead.

Huon Bourne Blue

Building Your Global Dreams

Twelve concerts performed by world class orchestras and evenings spent wandering through famous opera houses. A master class with a timpanist from Stuttgart. Numerous and spontaneous trips to hear the finest classical musicians play in Berlin.


If this frenetic kind of musical itinerary sounds exhausting to you, then spare a thought for Huon Bourne Blue. Now studying his Masters in Performance at a Hochschule in Mannheim, Germany, this young and talented timpanist from Newcastle hasn't even started his classes yet.


Once he does start on March 20th, it will mark another milestone in what has already been an impressive and inspiring musical journey - an adventure that first began, only a few years ago, in the NYO and the Newcastle Wind Orchestra (NWO).


Those early days might seem a world away from him now, but Huon is still humble enough to give credit to those who first helped to shape his dreams of studying in Germany.

"My percussion teacher, Stephan Muehr, who is from Hannover, had a huge influence on me," remembers Huon. Luba Totoeva and then Dr Ian Cook - the NYO Artistic Director who fostered Huon's earliest interests in conducting - were also crucial to the young musician's development.


Another presence during his formative years were the supportive approaches underlying the orchestras themselves. Their intimate and encouraging atmospheres provided perfect opportunities for Huon to explore his passions for the Romantic repertoire.


Needless to say, they also taught him lessons. Invaluable ones. Foundational kinds of insight and wisdom that he's carried with him all to way to the Openhäuser of Germany.


"i spent alot of time playing with the NWO. And even though it was only a small orchestra, it taught me to be organised. As a percussionist, those kinds of organisational skills will always be important for my music."


Perhaps it's those same skills that Huon employed on the first day he arrived in Germany. Landing in Munich, having barely slept, he still managed to attend a concert later that evening. He was exhausted. He was excited. He was suddenly and completely surrounded by music. And there was nowhere else he'd rather be.


"On that first night in Munich I attended an orchestra performance to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Bavarian State Opera. It was definitely a 'pinch-me' moment. Actually I've had a lot of those since I arrived here. Moments where I've realised that this is exactly where I'm meant to be. I may not be from Germany but it feels like, at least musically, that this is my home."


Amidst so many momentous occasions, or 'pinch-me' moments, it might surprise you to hear that Huon's fondest memories are still of Newcastle and the music that he once made here. Mannheim might be his new home, but his timpani still sounds loudest for those who still live in his old one.


"i was very fortunate to have had the teachers that I had in Newcastle. My fondest musical memories are from the times I spent playing with the Newcastle Wind Orchestra and the NYO."

Claudia Cox

Building Your Global Dreams

It's not easy to catch up with Claudia Cox these days. 


The Newcastle violinist, whose first experiences playing in an orchestra were gained at the NYO, has never had this many musical projects to inspire her. When she isn't composing an opera until midnight, or working with directors at the Norwegian National Theatre, she is jetting off to Vienna from her home in Oslo to play in an orchestra. 


Before that she was playing violin in experimental music festivals. Claudia was studying for her Masters alongside musicians who were so committed to their art that they practised for 12 hours a day. As a student at the Grieg Academy of Music in Bergen, Claudia was embraced by a community of performers who never seemed to go home. There was too much music to learn, play and immerse themselves in. Their passion and discipline made an enormous impression on the young violinist from the suburbs of Newcastle.


"The biggest difference between studying in Australia compared to Norway is the level of creative output. My class mates would constantly be working and I really needed that kind of guidance at the time. I needed that type of discipline."


"My studies in Bergen gave me a taste of what it's like to play music professionally. It was a window into the real world. And the course was so great because it also gave me a lot of freedom as well."

It's combining those two influences, the rigors of discipline with the freedom to experiment, that has helped Claudia evolve into such an extraordinary talent. While she will always be a violinist first, the muliplicity of artforms that she is now working in is testament to her breadth of creative insight.


But Claudia might put it differently.


Even though she is now pursuing so many of her musical dreams, in a city and across a continent that is worlds away from her origins in Newcastle, Claudia knows that the first lessons a musician learns are often the most important ones.


"My violin teacher back in Newcastle, Susan Collins, was very influential for me. When I was her student I was lucky that she shared so many pockets of her wisdom with me. She helped me make the dream of studying music in Europe a reality. She helped me technically of course but she was also inspirational as well."

"Playing violin in the NYO was so exciting for me when I was there. I remember that something clicked inside me in that time. I decided that I wanted to work in an orchestra. I loved that idea and, to this day, I still do."


"What the NYO also taught me was the importance of playing in and being part of a bigger unit.  It was always very social too. I had alot of friends in that orchestra and nothing beats playing music alongside your friends."

Daniel Duque

Building Your Global Dreams

For the past decade, the Newcastle Youth Orchestra and Wind Orchestra have been integral in building the musical repertoires of our most talented performers. But the threads that it is has woven into the artistic fabric of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley have occasionally led its alumni along unexpected creative paths.


Just ask Daniel Duque. As a member of the Newcastle Wind Orchestra (NWO), back when his earliest musical dreams centred on a future career as a composer, the first fibres in his thread were spun when he was just a teenager. Nowadays Daniel has followed his thread to a different destination entirely - the Australian, Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) in Sydney.

Another lesson that the NWO gifted to Daniel is one that, wherever his promising career may end up, will be essential to any pursuit of artistic endeavour that he may choose. He may now be surrounded by filmmakers, but his intrinsic drive to excel is one that was first borne amongst his fellow musicians in Newcastle. 


"I’ve been able to continue progressing and thriving as a young composer in large part due to my constant and unrelenting obsession with wanting to be that best I can possibly be. There is a quote that I’ve been telling myself ever since I began composing and taking it seriously - 'The only thing in life that stands between you and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, is doing it.'

"My community is now filmmakers and not musicians for the first time in a very long time," says Daniel. "It's a refreshing environment to be in, especially at AFTRS with everyone at the height of their creative exploration."


Whilst his studies at AFTRS have led him away from his origins and has broadened his creative circles, his passion and focus has largely remained in the same place it's always been. Currently enrolled in a Masters in Screen Composition, Daniel can still trace the beginnings of his artistic journey to his time as a young student in Newcastle.


"I began at the NWO at the age of fifteen, back when it was part of the Newcastle Conservatorium. The repertoire alone was enough to instill inspiration for me wanting to become a composer," he says.


"Being exposed to composers such as Johan De Meij and being able to perform his symphonies at the NWO became an important influence in how I wanted to explore composition. I still consider the music of De Meij to be wildly important to my current practice."

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