Halfway to the Gala

We are halfway through our Composing Conversations Workshop Series! We have discussed with composers, patrons and conductors their inspirations, motivations and experiences, as well as honing our pieces to be premiered at the  Victorian Community Orchestra Project Gala Concert on Saturday 24 August.

Extra rehearsals and guest appearances in the Composing Conversation Workshop Series have been made possible with the financial assistance of an Australia Post Workforce Community Grant. We thank Australia Post helping us be the best we can be for the VCOP Gala Concert.

In Rehearsal 2019_07_11

Guest Conductor Mark Shiell

Last rehearsal we played under the baton of Mark Shiell, our guest conductor.  Mark has studied and conducted both in Australia and Internationally, and has worked with some of Australia’s most celebrated composers and performers.  He shared with us his stories and experiences working with professional, student and community orchestras.

This week Mark will return to lead a sectional for wind & brass, along with Andrea Keeble, who will be leading the string sectional rehearsal.  Andrea is a renowned violinist in a number of Melbourne ensembles, educator, composer and long-time friend to Squawkestra.  We welcome them both back for another Composing Conversation.

Our Composing Conversation at last week’s workshop was with VCO Project founder Sally Burgess and patron Jenny Khafagi.

Sally Burgess is the Founder and the vision behind the VCO Project. Sally has a non music day job but a commitment and passion for community music and it’s participants. We heard about her vision for the VCO Project and the interest of promoting music, musicians and shepherding new sounds into the world – especially for community orchestras. We learnt how she she is making it happen with the help of some influential friends as well as the nitty-gritty of matchmaking composers with orchestras and sourcing music stands and percussion for the Gala concert!

Jenny Khafagi is a violinist and well known among Australia’s most respected orchestras, including Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras and ACO2 Collective (Australian Chamber Orchestra). As a full time career musician, Jenny is busy with performing, rehearsing and touring schedules as well as being active in supporting new music and community music and she is a highly regarded educator. We were especially lucky to have Jenny on hand to demonstrate to us new harmonics techniques the strings will use in Nick Goulding’s piece Overflow.

Composing Conversation 2019_07_11

Our first Composing Conversations workshop was a big success last week. We began work on Mark Viggiani’s piece Of Tulips and Dragons an arrangement of Bartok’s piano music for orchestra. Orchestra members received their part for Overflow, an original composition by Nick Goulding. There was much excitement as orchestra members delved into a new sonic world of discovery.

Our first composing conversation was with our resident composer, Nick Goulding. In our conversation with Nick we were given an introduction to the inner working behind his new piece. What a privilege it is to hear how a piece comes together. We heard about his influences and his vision and narrative for his work, Overflow. Orchestra members were encouraged to ask questions openly and candidly. There was much laughter shared and aligning of possibilities.

Composing Conversations LogoIt’s not too late to take part. Come along to the next rehearsal this Thursday 11 July and check out the the full workshop program!

Little Winter Music Concert

We’ve had our final rehearsal in preparation for this week’s Little Winter Music Concert, and are looking forward to sharing Mornings, Nights, Folk Songs and Dances with our audience.

It will also be an opportunity to learn more about our 9-week Composing Conversations Workshop Series.

Please join us on Thursday June 13th at 7:30 pm, at the AIDS Memorial Chapel, Melbourne Polytechnic – Fairfield campus, Yarra Bend Road Fairfield. Entry is by donation.

2019 Winter Concert

Squawkestra is excited to announce its upcoming workshop series “Composing Conversations”.

We will be exploring new works written especially for, and in collaboration with, Squawkestra across eight workshops and culminating in a performance at the Victorian Community Orchestra (VCO) Project Gala Concert.

Workshops will be conducted by Katrina Wilson O’Brien and include collaboration with VCO Project composers Mark Viggiani and Nicholas Goulding and conversations with VCO Project Patron Zoe Knighton and VCO Project Founder Sally Burgess.

Beginning Thursday June 27 at Northcote Senior Citizen’s Centre, 18A Bent St, Northcote. Participation is free for Squawkestra members, and $90/$70 Concession for new members.

Composing Conversations Banner (1)



With the temperature dropping and winter around the corner, rehearsals for our upcoming “Little Winter Music” concert are well advanced. Pieces we will perform include Mendelssohn’s Nocturne from Midsummer’s Night Dream, Robert Sheldon’s Appalachian Morning and a Purcell Air. See our 2019 Concerts page for details.

Last rehearsal, Squawkestra was delighted to host not one, but two local composers!

In anticipation of our participation in the Victorian Community Orchestra Project Composer Competition and Community Gala Concert (https://www.vcoproject.org/), we hope to build a relationship with a resident composer who will write an original orchestral work for us.

As final arrangements and official announcements are yet to be made, their identities will remain a mystery for now, but we are excited at the prospect of playing music written especially for us!

Rehearsals return to usual venue

Our first rehearsal was a great success with some new players, new music and getting back into the joy of Squawkestra music-making.

Although it was an adventure in navigating the outer limits of Preston, this week we return to normal at Northcote Senior Citizen’s Club (18 Bent St, Northcote) where we have more room to play in, we can find the light switches and produce boiling water on demand!

If you haven’t yet paid your 2019 membership fees, please use the online account details on our 2019 Membership Form (remember to put your name in the payment description!) or bring to rehearsal.

Our first rehearsal for 2019 is on Thursday 7th February at 7pm.  As our usual venue is not available, we will be rehearsing at the East Preston Senior Citizen’s Centre, 18 Donald Street, Preston.  Rehearsals will return to Northcote Senior Citizen’s Centre at Bent St, Northcote for the rest of the year.

Rehearsal dates for 2019 have been updated on our Members page (including Break Time Duty Roster) and added to our Squawkestra meetup events.

Looking forward to getting into some great Squawkestra music-making for 2019!