The Goulburn Strings Concerto

SMSA Grant recipients The Goulburn Strings Project have achieved tremendous things over the past 12 months, with one of their most significant being The Goulburn Concerto. During 2016 the SMSA presented the Goulburn Strings Project, a initiative of the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium, two grants. An initial $10,000 was awarded at our Annual General Meeting, and then a further $5,000, awarded at the SMSA Members’ Christmas Party. The Goulburn Strings Project addresses the issue of “access and equity in the area of music education for students in a regional school with several unique challenges”. Schools have found that at risk children have become more engaged and confident in their schooling after their participation in the program, and grants from organisations like the SMSA make a significant impact in areas such as operating costs, equipment supply and command and tutor training.

The Goulburn Concerto was a unique performance, penned by famed Australian composer Sean O’Boyle AM. Beginner musicians – students from the Goulburn Strings Project, some as young as Year 5 – where cast alongside professional musicians from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra to perform as equals. The concept emerged from a collaboration between the Goulburn Strings Project, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the University of Canberra.

Led by Dr. Anita Collings from the University of Canberra, Paul Scott-Williams from the Goulburn Strings Project, and Sarah Kimbell, CEO of the the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, it was the opportunity to explore questions on what the musicians could learn from this performance, what would this piece of music sound like, and how the learning experiences could be integrated into existing educational programs.

Students from the Goulburn Strings Project rehearsed for six months prior to the premiere, with a few special showings for Parents, Staff and fellow students at the Goulburn Public School. The school recognised the positive impact projects such as the concerto have on both their general school community, and the potential to change the lives of their participating students.

5 April 2016 heralded the premiere of The Goulburn Concerto to an audience of almost 1,000 school children and adults. The project received great interest from local and regional politicians and press, including in industry magazines. The performance was a fantastic success, which received great praise. The world first initiative is now drawing links between the Goulburn Strings project and other international music education programs delivering specialist musical experiences to disadvantaged children around the world.


All images published with kind permission by Blake Selmes, Communications Coordinator at the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium