Stringing together a talent

Julia Parker, 17, has excelled in the musical industry this year, most recently earning first place for her performances in the ‘Orchestral String Instrument Solo Under 18’ and ‘Instrumental Championship Under 18’ sections at the 49th Burnie City Eisteddfod. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Repertoire. From her first encounter with the musical instrument, Julia Parker has been infatuated with the violin.

At the tender age of seven, she began lessons with Stanley teacher Simone Doherty and recalls her eagerness.

“I just wanted to play fast,” she said.

“But Simone told me I had to learn the notes first.”

Ten years on and Julia has competed in as many Burnie City Eisteddfods.

Placing first in both the ‘Orchestral String Instrument Solo Under 18’ and ‘Instrumental Championship Under 18’ most recently, she also graced the stage during the Launceston Competitions in May, where she performed in chorale sections with the Launceston Church Grammar School choir and various violin sections.

Losing herself in the beauty of the instrument for up to three hours of practice each day, Julia’s busy schedule has increased further in recent weeks.

The 17-year-old has been busily preparing for her school’s musical production of Crazy For You.

The musical opened with a matinee performance on Monday followed by four evening shows this week, where Julia is just one of four string instrumentalists in the accompanying orchestra.

“It’s been a really good experience,” she said of the workings behind the production.

On Tuesday, Julia auditioned for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s (TSO) ‘Rising Star Competition’ in Hobart and if successful will see her solo with the TSO in October.

Competing against 17 to 25-year-olds in all musical and vocal categories, Julia had only played with her accompanist once prior to the audition.

“If you want solo with an orchestra you have to show you’re able to play in time with other musicians, have that relationship, connect and understand music on that level.

Julia was confident ahead of her performance of Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen for the ‘Rising Star Competition’.

In her first year at Launceston Church Grammar School, the Grade 11 student is already studying at university level through the TSO Composers’ Project, which is in conjunction with the Music Conservatorium at University of Tasmania and equivalent to a first-year university unit.

The composition subject has broadened the young musician’s instrumental knowledge after being assigned the cello and flute.

She works alongside TSO musicians, cellist Ivan James and flutist Douglas Mackie in creating her original compositions which will eventually be recorded through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

At school, Julia also studies a theory and performance pre-tertiary level-three music class.

An Associate Diploma in Music student of the Australian Music Examinations Board, Julia will graduate next month from the Conservatorium.

She continues to take lessons with Simone where she has learned to sing the notes she must play in the absence of sheet music.

Julia has also worked with Forth local Petrina Jahnz for the past five years in studying the theoretical side of the violin.

“We’re so grateful for the opportunities Julia has been presented with along the coast,” mother Dione said.

Completing Grade 7 to 10 at Smithton High School, Julia is grateful for the guidance of her past music teachers Tessa Lee and David Buchanan.

“[They both] pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have chosen this path if it weren’t for them.”

Of her future, Julia is optimistic and open minded.

“I’m aiming for the (Melbourne) Conservatorium of Music but I will take opportunities as they come,” she said.

Preferring performance above composition at this stage, Julia says this may change in the future.

“Composition has opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

“Classical musical is a competitive industry . . . Opportunities for soloists are limited. If I want to succeed I have to aspire but be realistic in my goals.”

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