Category Archives for "News"

Symphonic Sounds – Audience Survey Report

Experience The Energy – Symphonic Sounds

On the 15, 21 and 22 September 2019, Steel City Strings performed in Wollongong, Nowra & Burradoo in a performance entitled “Experience The Energy” . With over 120 guests in attendance, a survey was taken and a report compiled.

To view or download a copy of the survey report please click Here.




Steel City Strings a Finalist in the 2019 Art Music Awards

We are proud to announce that Steel City Strings is a finalist in the prestigious national Art Music Awards, presented each year by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Australian Music Centre. The orchestra is a finalist in the Award for Excellence in a Regional Area for activities in 2018 and commitment to new Australian music.

We are very excited that our support for regional, local and established Australian composers is being recognised and that our amazing year in 2018 with the launch of the documentary The Passion of Music and all three outstanding concerts is being acknowledged.

The finalists celebrate achievements in Australian contemporary classical, jazz and experimental music. The quantity, the quality and the variety of projects and works included makes a powerful statement about the rich range of talent and the sheer volume of creative work by today’s Australian art music practitioners.

The Art Music Awards winners in eleven national categories, as well as state or territory awards, will be announced on Monday 19 August at the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, with a live performance program curated by composer-pianist Barney McAll. MC extraordinaire Jonathan Biggins will return as the evening’s host.

For more information please visit the official Art Music Awards website.

Music students perform better at school than non-musicians

A new study finds a high correlation between school students studying music and performing well at maths, science and English. But is the students’ academic performance a cause or effect of studying music?

The study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, compared the results of all students who graduated high school between 2012 and 2015 in British Columbia.

The correlation between academic performance and music study was evident even when the researchers controlled for socioeconomic background, ethnicity, gender, and their prior performance in mathematics and English, suggesting that improved academic performance is an effect of music study.

Continue reading.

This article was originally published by the ABC Network.




Steel City Strings meets South Coast Big Band – Audience Survey Report

Steel City Strings meets South Coast Big Band  – Experience the Energy

On the 23, 29 & 30 June 2019, Steel City Strings & South Coast Big Band came together to perform in Wollongong, Nowra & Burradoo in a performance entitled “Steel City Strings meets South Coast Big Band” . With over 900 guests in attendance, a survey was taken and a report compiled.

To view or download a copy of the survey report please click Here.




How music affects brain development

​Much has been written about ​how music affects brain development both in children and adults. 

If you spend any time on Facebook you will almost certainly have seen posts about the benefits of music for the brain. From the positive impact music can have on memory and the improvements shown for those suffering from Alzheimer’s through to reducing stress by listening to music.

Simply doing an internet search for ‘How music affects brain development in children’ will deliver you ​81,300,000 results on Google.

​However, in this day of 'everyone is a publisher', we felt the need to review the evidence based research to get the real picture of how music affects brain development in children.

​Evidence based research

Like many music teachers, the members of Steel City Strings passionately believe in the benefits of music for children's development. It is the primary reason they created the Celebration of Youth concert series. But they also believe it is important to not take social media statements at face value. So, we were given the job of researching the evidence​ of how music affects brain development in children.

Our starting point for research was Google Scholar, which weeds out the self published blogs and delivers evidence based research. And we were encouraged to discover that there is an enormous body of research.  While we've weeded out the 80 million! blogs on the subject, there are still ​265,000 evidence based research papers and articles.

What the research says

A 2011 study published in the ​Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal​ ​​​looked at whether there was a causal effect between music training and preliteracy skills. The study divided sixty children into two groups; music or visual arts. At the end of a 20 day training program the children in both groups had improved their phonological awareness. However, the children with music training had significantly improved their visual-auditory learning skills compared with the visual arts group.

Another ​longitudinal study published in ​Early Childhood Research Quarterly​ ​​​in 2015 found that the frequency of shared music activities in the home was positively associated with children’s vocabulary, numeracy, attention and emotional regulation, and prosocial skills.

​But what about the brain structure?

A paper with the spoiler-alert title of Childhood Music Training Induces Change in Micro and Macroscopic Brain Structure: Results from a Longitudinal Study compared the effects of music on the development of children's brain structure over a two year period, starting when they were six years old.

Using brain imaging the study started by establishing that there were no structural differences between the children in the after school music training group compared with the after school sports group or the group that did no after school training. The children in all three groups came from the same underprivileged socioeconomic background.  After two years of training follow up brain imaging found that the music group children ​had a different rate of cortical thickness maturation compared to the other groups. They also had higher fractional anisotrophy (​a useful measure of connectivity in the brain) in the corpus callosum, crossing pathways connecting superior frontal, sensory, and motor segments.

​We've all heard about the importance of brain plasticity

The message from the cognitive neurosciences about ​brain plasticity has made the successful leap into the everyday vernacular. However music is now becoming an important area of study within this research area as scientists discover more​ evidence about the association between musical practice (rather than just listening) and functional and structural brain plasticity. This study argues that some of the sensorimotor and cognitive enhancements associated with music training indicate music making has the potential to be used as an interactive treatment, or even intervention, for neurological and developmental disorders as well as protecting our aging brains.

​So what can you do?

Start playing music!  Whatever your age.  Not only is it fun, satisfying and a great social activity, it appears it will protect, and dare we say it, enhance your aging brain.

And if you have children in your life - inspire them to learn an instrument. Whether it is recorder and school or taking up the opportunity to learn the violin.​

​Steel City Strings has the perfect opportunity for you to inspire kids in your life with the March performances of Celebration of Youth.  So, book now and build better brains!

​Bring the family to the CELEBRATION OF YOUTH

​KIAMA - 2pm Sunday March 24

WOLLONGONG - 7.30pm March 30

SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS - 2pm Sunday March 31

Steel City Strings Audience feedback – July 18

Steel City Strings perform Strings with Voices at Burrawang School of Arts

​Audience feedback from the Strings with Voices performance has thrilled the members of Steel City Strings and inspired more exciting performances to come.

Susie Bishop

​Guest Soprano soloist - Susie Bishop

Daniel Tambasco portrait

Guest Tenor soloist - ​Daniel Tambasco

Jared Lillehagen

​Guest Baritone soloist - ​Jared Lillehagen

An audience feedback survey for those who attended the Steel City Strings Strings with Voices performance was completed by 44 people which is ​a whopping 61% of those surveyed.

This was the first time 70% of respondents had attended a Steel City Strings concert; 14% had attended one previous, and 16% two or more.

How did you hear about Strings with Voices at Burrawang School of Arts?

(Responses total more than 100% as the majority of respondents reported hearing about Strings with Voices from more than one source)



Word of mouth


Saw the movie The Passion of Music


Saw of flier for Strings with Voices


Saw a poster for Strings with Voices


Saw it advertised on a local arts website


Steel City Strings website


Steel City Strings Facebook


Heard about it on local radio


How would you rate your overall enjoyment of the music played in Strings with Voices?

Most respondents found the music highly enjoyable (80%) or enjoyable (14%).

One person gave a neutral rating and two people had mixed feelings. One of the latter explained “I did not like the makeup of the program as it felt unlike a chamber group. I also felt like the programming was done entirely to please the crowd and not for the players and their artistic endeavours.”

Most comments however were complimentary:

Amazingly professional performance"

​"Absolutely fabulous – would definitely attend more concerts by Steel City Strings"

"Look forward to the next concert – keep up the good work"

"Thoroughly enjoyed the quality and standard of the playing – there was a freshness of tone"

"The acoustic of the hall suited the orchestra and choir perfectly – clear and audible no matter where you sat"

"Better than the movie!"

"Spellbound! Awesome!”

How would you rate the standard of playing by Steel City Strings?

Standard of playing was rated either excellent (73%) or high (27%).

“Very professional and no-nonsense - amateurs you are not"

"Most impressive – the enthusiasm shone through"

"Personally enjoyed the balanced program"

"The Holberg set the scene for all that was to follow and each item kept the standard.”

How would you rate the standard of singing by con voci chamber choir?

Singing was rated excellent (50%), high (32%) or good (14%).  Two people gave a fair standard rating.

con voci were very compatible with the orchestra and provided a lovely balance"

​"I’m not sure if it was the drapery absorbing their volume but they sounded muted.”

What was the highlight of the concert for you, and why?

There were forty responses to this question, the most frequent being “the whole performance”, best summed up with one person’s comment:

“comfortable, compatible and entertaining mix of academic, technical, classical musicality and light-hearted humour and performance drama; the structure of the program was a lovely evolving journey; combination of voices with the orchestra made for appropriate program denouement. Joyful experience, classy!!! Broad appeal, not too high-brow, but definitely excellent technically!”

The most frequently mentioned pieces were the Holberg Suite and the Schubert Mass.  Each of the soloists received numerous accolades.  Other respondents identified the choir or the setting as the highlight for them, and for one audience member it was “watching my mother enjoying it so much for her 90th birthday.”

How likely are you to attend future Steel City Strings concerts at Burrawang School of Arts?

A high 80% of respondents are highly likely to attend, with a further 11% fairly likely.  Two people were unsure, and two fairly unlikely (“coming from Sydney it’s not easy to get to”).

Is there anything you would change to make the concert experience more enjoyable for you?

Most respondents answered “no” to this question (“how could perfection be improved?”).  Suggestions for improvement were

“I thought the programming too pedestrian"

"There was something for everyone but I found it a bit eclectic"

"Opening suite had no voices, I would delete it"

"The soloists were too powerful for the venue"

"Availability of a glass of champagne/wine for half time"

"Better lighting of orchestra”

How likely are you to recommend Steel City Strings concerts to a friend?

All respondents said they are highly likely (89%) or fairly likely (11%) to recommend Steel City Strings to a friend.

Additional comments.

Thirty respondents made additional comments, most reiterating their appreciation of the event (“the pride of thinking these are our local people and hey world! look what we can do”), and with many heartfelt pleas to return to the Southern Highlands.

Yve Repin
Steel City Strings Management Committee

8 July 2018

Richard Gill introduces The Passion of Music

The premiere of The Passion of Music was an early highlight for this year for Steel City Strings.  The film played to over 400 people at Greater Union Wollongong and was introduced by Richard Gill. Watch his introduction from the night below.

Radio interview: Tony Williams & Karella Mitchell from The Passion of Music

World Premiere of The Passion of Music 11.02.18

Earlier today the ABC Illawarra Mornings with Nick Rheinberger show aired an interview recorded earlier this week with Tony Williams (Director, The Passion of Music) and Karella Mitchell (Principal Cello, Steel City Strings).  Nick spoke with Tony and Karella about belonging to a community orchestra and also being involved in the making of The Passion of Music.

The Passion of Music premiers this Sunday at Greater Union Cinemas, Burelli St Wollongong.   Tickets are still available so come along and experience how a community orchestra shares their Passion of Music.

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If you need more, and would love to feel the intimacy of a live performance, Steel City Strings first program for 2018, Great Chamber Works tickets are also available now.


Do not miss this opportunity to go behind the scenes of a community orchestra and feel their Passion of Music.