Luke Byrne visited Armidale to adjudicate the choir and composition sections of the Eisteddfod in May. While here he conducted two workshops at NECOM. The first was with many of our Cantilena choristers who stayed after the final primary choral event at the Eisteddfod to participate in Luke's choral conductor’s workshop and the second workshop was for anyone interested in composition.
Cantilena were the demonstration choir Luke used to share his knowledge and skills of conducting with the attending teachers. Luke took the choir through a number of fun and challenging warm-ups, both for the voice and for the brain! He then worked on a number of pieces with the choir, demonstrating different ways of introducing material to the choristers and how the movements utilised by the conductor in front of the choir has a direct effect on the sound produced, attesting to the saying ‘What they see is what you get!’, a fundamental tenet of choral educators, Rodney Eichenberger and Andre Thomas.
April Kelson took part in the workshop and described it as: "An excellent workshop for choral conductors with an excellent choral conductor, Luke had lots of advice for us all. He particularly talked about reducing talking in rehearsals in favour of more singing time, about cut-offs (which he called 'the great dream of choral conductors'), and about reducing the size and breadth of our conducting."
Thank you Luke. I am sure those warm ups were used the very next week. I know we did! - Cantilena conductor, Cathy Welsford
The composition section in the Armidale Eisteddfod is unique, and each year gives our young composers an invaluable opportunity to receive feedback from an outstanding Australian composer.
This year Luke Byrne was the guest composer and adjudicator for 2017 and he had the unenviable task of choosing a winner in each of the 7 competitive sections, while also providing quality, useable feedback for each group.
The Composition Section is presented by AMTA (Armidale Music Teachers Association) with all prizes donated by AMTA and NECOM. In addition, Deidre Rickards donates the framed composer manuscripts to each winner.
The Composition Eisteddfod included a composer seminar and workshop presented by Luke that was very popular and well attended. These are invaluable learning opportunities for students and teachers.
Luke was overwhelmed with the quality and standard of the composers that ranged from primary aged children to adults and noted:
“Across all the categories, and not just a case of "that was really good, for someone that age", these pieces were very strong compared to each other, everything all the way up to Paul Marshall's piece in the open category, obviously from a professional musician, all the way to our younger composers, there's such a depth and strength of composition here [in Armidale] that I just have to tell you it's unnatural.”