Logan youth orchestra heads to Japan

TRIP AWAY: Logan Youth Music Exchange members Briony McConnell, Makayla Lin, Charlotte Thomson and Isabella Welby snapped during a performance at Eats & Beats, Berrinba Wetlands, August 31, 2018. Photo: Lisa Simmons
TRIP AWAY: Logan Youth Music Exchange members Briony McConnell, Makayla Lin, Charlotte Thomson and Isabella Welby snapped during a performance at Eats & Beats, Berrinba Wetlands, August 31, 2018. Photo: Lisa Simmons

A LOGAN youth symphony orchestra is heading off to Japan for performances in the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Logan sister city Hirakata.

Logan Youth Music Exchange flies out on September 21 to perform a series of shows that will be performed for and with orchestras from Japanese schools.

Conductor Shaun Dorney said a highlight would be a meeting and performance for the mayor and councillors of Hirakata in the prefecture of Osaka.

“Our kids take their responsibilities as ambassadors for Logan City very seriously and very much look forward to it,” Mr Dorney said.

A total of 44 young musicians and teachers will make the journey.

The young musicians are aged from 10-19 and hail from schools all over Logan. The youngest are Charlotte Thomson, 10 and Makayla Lin, 12. The oldest is Rhiannon Tate, 19.

“I suppose the bulk of our kids are from the north of the city but we’ve plenty who come to us from Flagstone, Park Ridge, Beenleigh and Marsden. They’re spread all around,” he said.

The young performers will travel with their violins, violas, cellos, flutes, clarinets, oboes, saxes, trumpets, trombones, French horns, drums, cymbals and shakers.

“Where possible, they’ll pack their instruments in their carry-on luggage. For some though, that’s impossible so it will be stowed away,” Mr Dorney said.

The program opens with songs from the Disney kids hit Frozen.

“We did some research of what people at karaoke and we’re assured that’s going to hit the spot,” Mr Dorney said.

The kids will also perform a selection of Australiana  –  songs like Give Us a Home Among the Gumtrees, Kookaburra Sits and the Queensland version of Waltzing Matilda  – classical favourites like Summer’s Rain, “a storm in music” and the theme song from a blockbuster video game Grandia, arranged by teacher Adam Thomson.

The orchestra showcased its program at the Logan foodtruck and music festival Eats & Beats at Berrinba Wetlands, enjoying the chance to perform for an audience and raise funds for the trip that costs about $2500 per person.

Logan Council has contributed $10,000, bought the t-shirts the kids wear as a uniform and helped organise meetings with  the mayor and councillors in Logan sister city Hirakata.

Mr Dorney said the symphony orchestra rehearsed weekly at Shailer Park High School.

“We’ve put this all together over about 12 weeks – so 12 rehearsals all up,” he said.

Mr Dorney said Logan Youth Music Exchange had made trips to Logan sister cities in Japan, China and Taiwan and hosted recipricol trips from overseas schools since its inception in 2001.

“It’s a real exchange of cultures. Our kids go there and billet with families and kids from overseas come out here and do the same,” he said.

“Logan is the only city in Australia that runs anything like it. A few years ago, the city even won an award for the program,” Mr Dorney said.

Mr Dorney said the young musicians would perform their last show on Sunday, joining Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra for a 35th anniversary show at Canon Hill Anglican College.

“We’ll tag team on to that. It’s going to be a big audience so it should be a good test for them,” he said.

The young musicians would have their final run through on Thursday, September 20, before they went home, packed their instruments and flew out the next morning at 5am.

“That really is our final chance to get it right. Once we get to Japan, no one will see instruments for three-four days. There won’t be room for that in the hostel where we stay.”

Councillor Darren Power said many of the teachers and kids who would travel with the orchestra were from his division.

“The good thing is this brings everyone together,” he said.

“I’ve seen these kids perform. They will be good representatives for Logan to have overseas.”

The kids will also get to have some fun.

Highlights will include visits to Tokyo Disney and Tokyo Fish Markets.

“It mightn’t sound like much, but those fish markets are quite a spectacle,” said Mr Dorney.

“There are acres and acres of markets and every type of fish you can imagine. Our vegetarians are going to have to close their eyes.”