08 JAN 2018

Coming in to the real world


A lot of people don’t realise how vital patrons are to the performing arts. In many professional music contexts, ticket sales alone don’t cover the entire cost associated with putting on a performance. Such is the case with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, whose patrons generously cover some of the shortfall.

One such patron is Mark Woods, who has supported Chris Haycroft, bassoonist in the 2017 SSO Fellowship program. The SSO Fellowship is a year-long apprenticeship program for young musicians looking to work full-time in the music industry for symphony orchestras such as the SSO. Last year I attended the Fellowship’s inspiring final concert and was lucky enough to speak to both Mark and Chris.

The SSO thanks patrons like Mark for their generous support by inviting them to attend rehearsals and masterclasses and giving them opportunities to interact with the musicians in the Fellowship, watching them grow through the experience. For Mark, the best part of the experience is seeing “young people going up to another level of skill, and so rapidly!”

“If you want [classical music] to continue in the world, you have to have patrons to keep it going! It would be a terrible craft to lose,” Mark says. “When you donate to the Fellows, it’s all going to the individual person. It’s not going down the drain!”

The Fellows are guaranteed a minimum of 40 calls playing alongside the permanent members of the SSO during the course of the year. Chris says this experience has been vital in his transition from student to professional.

“Coming into the ‘real world’ with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, I’ve learnt so much just from sitting in the section with my colleagues, having to prepare pieces week by week to come into rehearsal and just go,” he says. “It’s a very different life playing professionally than it is playing as a student, and I’ve really learnt a lot from that.”

The symbiosis between patron and performer not only results in friendship, but translates to the performance stage as well. The Fellowship’s stunning display of talent and professionalism demonstrated in performance highlights the growth of the fellowship musicians as they prepare for life in the industry. This is made possible by the patronage of people like Mark, whose advice for young musicians considering applying for the Fellowship is: “jump at it, go for it.”

Mark’s contributions have allowed Chris the opportunity to progress his musical talents, setting a fine example for anyone wishing to assist the next generation of professional classical musicians.

Neil Baker was a Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2017 Young Ambassador. Read more about our Young Ambassador program.

Image credit: Tim Walsh

Coming in to the real world