Ben Dollman's Study Tour To Europe

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Greetings!

...to the readers and audience members out there – it’s Ben Dollman from the ABO violins here and I have just returned from a fabulous trip around Europe focusing on my playing and the period orchestra scene there! Travelling through Holland, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Hungary, I was able to observe several high quality period orchestras at work as well as spend time with some top-level colleagues on my own playing.

It was very fruitful in that everything I hoped to get from each leg came to pass – illuminating the work we do at ABO and comparing what we do with the scene in Europe; and guiding me forwards personally as a musician and violinist through expert mentorship.

It’s a very rich experience to soak up the musical tradition that exists there, as well as the astonishing cultural and musical heritage of places like Leipzig and Venice. In addition I was able to take on board new experiences in the form of an inspiring improvisation course in Italy, and meet many new colleagues along the way to make connections and play with.
I am very grateful indeed to the ABO and donors for making this trip possible.

A world away...

You know those science fiction movies where some portal opens up to some other dimension or part of the galaxy?
That’s a bit how it feels to me to have had two months intensive in Europe immersing myself in the early music world there – hop on a plane, be delivered into great centres of culture, arrive into meetings and performances with great exemplars of our discipline, delve into history and places of unique heritage, all the while speaking different tongues (or attempting to!) and orienting oneself to the unfamiliar…
And back again! Zip. Here we are back on home turf.

Kind of like an intense stimulus that carries one onwards through the journey, enabling you and encouraging you to open to what is new and rich around you and drink in and learn from all that interests you!
For those who weren’t aware, from the end our second subscription series of the year, Vivaldi Unwired, to the beginnings of our recent collaboration with Circa in mid-July, I was fortunate enough to be sponsored to undertake a trip overseas for the purposes of professional development.

This opportunity was offered to me by our artistic director Paul Dyer midway through last year, and gave me plenty of time to think – how can I best use this grant? What would I most like to get out of it?
Much of the summer was spent researching different violinists and orchestras in Europe and elsewhere – Japan, the US – and reflecting on what I most wanted to learn and experience. After a number of enquiries here and there, a plan began to take shape beginning in Amsterdam and ending in Rome, which would allow me to explore these wishes.

Most importantly, I wanted to experience a broad range of other professional period instrument orchestras like the ABO and to learn from how they do what they do; to develop my own playing as a period violinist and seek guidance on particular questions; and to pique some long-standing personal desires – to experience the culture of Italy, from whence so much of our music comes; to visit Liepzig, the home of the great JS Bach for most of his working life, and maybe to even explore avenues of music-making close to my heart in terms of improvisation and folk music in Europe.

In retrospect I can say that I was lucky enough to fulfil all of these desires through the many facets of this trip.

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