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Port Macquarie student George Teasdell to have original composition performed by Queensland Youth Orchestra

As 17-year-old George Teasdell’s hands fly across the keys of a piano, a smile on his face, his passion for creating original music is evident.

He already knows it is a path he will follow after school.

“I 100 per cent want to pursue music,” George said.

“I love it, it’s really my voice that I get my ideas out with.

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“I haven’t composed for that long but I have always been playing instruments.

George is a Year 11 student at Port Macquarie’s St Columba Anglican School in northern New South Wales.

Earlier this year he entered the annual Artology Fanfare Competition, which sought original short, fanfare compositions from young people aged from 12 to 21.

The competition aims to encourage budding young composers from across Australia.

George enthusiastically explains how he created his piece titled The Overground Underture, which accentuates certain beats.

Hands on piano keys.
George Teasdell enjoys the creative process. He liked the challenge of creating an original fanfare.(ABC News: Emma Siossian)

“A fanfare is something punchy that grabs your attention … you don’t write for the full orchestra, you just write for your six most important instruments,” he said.

“I had to have a main idea I could repeat heaps. It’s 30 seconds so I thought, ‘I need something really short’, so the limitations made me more creative.

“It’s really punchy and aggressive, it was very fun to compose.”

‘Shocked and excited’

Artology received more than 100 fanfare entries from across the country.

A teeange boy playing a trumpet band.
George Teasdell enjoys playing instruments, singing and composing.(Supplied: St Columba Anglican School)

Eight winning composers were chosen to attend a recording session in Sydney with the Australian Youth Orchestra. Their works will eventually be broadcast at venues around Australia.

This year, in a new addition to the competition, another group of 16 students have been selected to have their fanfares performed by the Queensland Youth Orchestra in a concert under conductor Peter Morris.

George is thrilled to be part of the second group.

“I thought, ‘Wow, things sneak up on you like that!’ So I was pretty shocked and really excited,” he said.

“I just can’t imagine that a big Queensland Youth Orchestra will be playing this piece and I’ve written it.”

Learning from the masters

In the lead-up to the concert the students are able to further develop their compositions with professional mentors including Nicholas Vines, Lyle Chan, Nicole Murphy, Alexander Voltz and Chrysoulla Markoulli.

A teenage student sits playing a piano in his school uniform.
George Teasdell loves expressing himself through music.(ABC News: Emma Siossian)

Artology said the event had been modified this year and physical distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols were in place.

“I’ve had one session already with the mentors and it’s so helpful, they just know so much, as they have done it their whole lives,” George said.

“The mentor composers have taught us about the really nitty-gritty part of the composition, which is making sure every note is really readable.”

Orchestra playing
Many young musicians have found their start in the Queensland Youth Orchestra.(ABC News: Donna Field)

George said there were not many other regional students in the group.

“Of the eight people who were at the first composition workshop meeting in person, eight others were on Zoom.

“Everyone else had gone to the Conservatorium [of Music] in Sydney.

The original student compositions will be played by the Queensland Youth Orchestra on September 30 at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.


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