This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Chamber Music Contest, so CMNZ is spending plenty of time connecting with Contest Alumni members. Our Alumni Correspondent Salina Fisher has been delving deep into the 50-year history of the Contest, and will be sharing many Alumni stories for you in the coming months as we celebrate an important year for the Contest.
Salina caught up with Contest Alumnus Emma Richards, Principal 3rd Horn of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, to hear about her Contest experience…
I was first involved in the Chamber Music NZ Contest in 1999 when we entered our brass quintet. I remember thinking we were super cool and edgy with our name, “Quintessential Brass”! We entered every year we could after that and never made it past the regional heats… but at the end of the day it is not about winning or losing. I think if you can go out on stage and play your absolute best and have a great time doing it, then you have already won!
LASTING CONTEST MEMORIES & FUNNY STORIES
Over the four years we played together we also saw each other through a lot of life events. We went to each other’s birthdays and concerts… I even took one of them to my school ball!
We went to each other’s birthdays and concerts… I even took one of them to my school ball!
For me the lasting memory is the hours of preparation time we spent together. We were pretty much self-directed so rehearsals were sometimes a bit unruly but we had so much fun. I remember the hours of practise in a freezing cold band room which at one point had a really annoying flickering light bulb. Because we were practicing in a Brass Band room we had access to a drum kit and a massive gong. Although we all knew very well that we were not allowed to touch it we could not resist adding a cool backing beat to our piece. We felt like rock stars at the time!! I am still in touch with three of the members of the group, mostly through Facebook. I saw one guy in the supermarket in Auckland the other month and we chatted and laughed about our brass quintet times in Timaru.
WHAT MAKES THE CONTEST SO UNIQUE
I think chamber music is always a special privilege. The Contest is a fantastic way to introduce young people to working together in smaller groups and gives students from all different backgrounds a chance to meet and hear each other.
The contest is a fantastic way to introduce young people to working together in smaller groups and gives students from all different backgrounds a chance to meet and hear each other.
I probably did not realise it at the time but taking part in the Chamber Music Contest was a life changing experience. It helped to fuel my lifelong love of chamber music, taught me the ins and outs of working together as a quintet and most importantly made me some awesome friends.
WHERE I ENDED UP
I am now a horn player in the Auckland Philharmonia and happy to say I still love playing chamber music with ACE Brass Trio. I feel grateful to be doing something I love!