Meet your Online Orchestra conductor, Jessica Gethin

What do you love best about being a conductor?

I have always loved the symphonic sound of an orchestra, however as a violinist, I saw only one part of the work, a little like an artist painting with the one colour. When I started conducting, seeing the whole score opened up a new world of ideas and sounds for me to shape, mould, drive and build upon. I began to see the entire work and it’s architecture, with all it’s many possibilities – like an artist with an endless palette of colours and tools! I love being able to get inside a composition and bring out all the finer details, and enjoy collaborating with the musicians, enabling them to bring a piece to life.

What does the song I am Australian mean to you?

I’m really proud to be Australian and find this song captures so beautifully what we love about our country. From depicting our dry, red and dusty landscape and humble dreamtime beginnings, to embracing and celebrating the diversity of the people that call Australia home. It resonates with me as I travel overseas a lot for my conducting, so a sense of belonging and place is important. I also think the lyrics ‘We are one, but we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come’ are as relevant to Australia today as ever; it’s the perfect song choice for this year’s project.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Nothing too strange! I travel a lot for my concerts so try to keep a bit of routine in my concert day; a big breakfast and some exercise followed by a quiet look over the scores. I always have a good stretch backstage and quite oddly always polish off an apple or two at interval!

Did you ever complete any AMEB exams? 

Absolutely! Like many of my colleagues I sat several AMEB exams in both violin and theory. In my teaching days I had lots of students sit the exams and now my own two children are working towards their first, so feel like I have been around AMEB all my life!

Do you have any advice for your 2019 Online Orchestra members?

I’d love to encourage everyone to have a go! Think outside the box and have some fun with it, with some careful preparation and practice you could film in some really creative locations showcasing the whole of Australia. You could also pull together a group of friends from school to do a group entry or perhaps get the whole family on board for a family entry, so many possibilities!

 

Check out Jessica’s website for more info and to see where she’s conducting next!