Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

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.




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.




Celebration of Youth 2019

​Celebration of Youth Southern Highlands

The Celebration of Youth Southern Highlands performance at Chevalier Performing Arts Centre will showcase a 40-piece ensemble comprising Steel City Strings and the BlueScope Youth Orchestra from the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music.

The lively, exciting program will feature award-winning, young ​soloists:

  • Peter Lavilles, winner of the 2018 Wollongong Conservatorium Concerto Competition, performing Weber’s virtuosic ‘Bassoon Concerto’
  • Cedar Newman, winner of numerous Eisteddfods, returns from her violin studies in New York to present Saint-Sa​ëns’ brilliant ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’
  • Singer/songwriters Emma Snellgrove and Caitlin Schlenker will get feet tapping with their original song ‘Capsized’, which wowed audiences in the Cantabile Music Festival at Sydney Opera House in 2018
  • World premiere of ‘Absence of Light’, composed specially for this event by local young composer and double bass player Adrian Whitehall, who has had work commissioned and performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

In addition the combined orchestras will play suites and dances for chamber orchestra by Purcell, Boyce, Grieg and Piazzolla.

​Experience the energy and excitement of discovering the exceptional talent of these young​, local musicians.

Cedar-Rose Newman Celebration of Youth Soloist
Peter Lavilles soloist with Celebration of Youth
Emma Snellgrove and Caitlin Schlenker perform in Celebration of Youth Kiama concert with Steel City Strings
Adrian Whitehall composition premiers at 2019 Celebration of Youth
Bluescope Youth Orchestra perform in Celebration of Youth Kiama concert with Steel City Strings

Celebration of Youth Program:

Abdelazer Suite​...................................................................Henry Purcell

  • Overture
  • Air 1
  • Air 2 
  • Dido's Lament. (from the opera Dido and Aeneas)
  • Rondeau

Lyric Pieces​​...........................................................................Edvard Grieg

  • Norwegian Dance
  • Waltz
  • Hailing
  • At The Cradle
  • Puck

Underground Tango​........................................................Goran Bregovic
Libertango​...........................................................................Astor Piazzolla

Symphony No. 1 in B Flat Major for Strings​..................William Boyce

  • 1 Allegro
  • 2 Largo
  • 3 Allegro


Capsized​...................................Emma Snellgrove and Caitlin Schlenker

Breaking Point.................................................Snellgrove and Schlenker

Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso....................Camille Saint-Saëns

          Soloist,  Cedar-Rose Newman, violin       biography >

Absence of Light............................................................Adrian Whitehall
Commissioned work-world premier performances

Bassoon Concerto in F major, Op75​.................Carl Maria von Weber

  • 1 Allegro ma non troppo

            Soloist, Peter Lavilles, bassoon

Adult $45
Concession $40
Student $20
Under 18yr $10
Family $100

​The Celebration of Youth​ Southern Highlands performance is made possible through the support of the following organisations:
Celebration of Youth is proudly supported by SCE
Celebration of Youth is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

​​Celebration of Youth is
supported by the
NSW Government
through Create NSW

sponsors of Celebration of Youth Concert series
Supporters of Steel City Strings Celebration of Youth
Sponsors of Steel City Strings Celebration of Youth Concert series

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

Strings with Voices

Steel City Strings collaborating with the con voci chamber choir in the Strings with Voices 2018 program

Steel City Strings collaborate with the con voci chamber choir

Susie Bishop, Strings with Voices soloist with Steel City Strings

Susie Bishop, Soprano

Daniel Tambasco, Strings with Voices soloist with Steel City Strings

Daniel Tambasco, Tenor

Jared Lillehagen, Strings with Voices soloist with Steel City Strings

Jared Lillehagen, Bass

June and July 2018 saw Steel City Strings present a spectrum of vocal music in the program Strings with Voices.

The program featured human voice, for the most part, married with a string accompaniment.  It also featured vocal music, both solo and choral, drawn from opera, the church as well as from the cabaret and cinema.

Four a cappella (unaccompanied) songs provide a taste of pure vocal harmony whilst the glories of string sonorities appear in one of the mainstays of the chamber orchestra repertoire, Grieg’s Holberg Suite.

con voci performing with Steel City Strings for Strings with Voices 2018 program

con voci performing with Steel City Strings

Strings with Voices soprano soloist, Susie Bishop, with Steel City Strings

Strings with Voices soprano soloist, Susie Bishop, with Steel City Strings

a capella in Strings with Voices 2018 program

a capella in Strings with Voices 2018 program

2018 Strings with Voices soloists

2018 Strings with Voices soloists

Steel City Strings first and second violins perform Strings with Voices 2018 program

Steel City Strings first and second violins

Steel City String's Strings with Voices soloistsr

Green room

Edvard Grieg – Holberg Suite Op 40

Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg originally composed his Holberg Suite, Op 40 for piano in 1884.​ Later that year he adapted the suite for string orchestra to celebrate the 200th birthday of Dano-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg.

Much of Grieg’s music was influenced by his love of Norway’s mountains and Norwegian folk music however in the Holberg Suite he created a suite of five movements based on 18th century French and Italian dance forms.

According to Bjarte Engeset this suite, officially titled Fra Holbergs tid, Op. 40 (direct translation: From Holberg’s Time), “was an exercise in ‘concealing his own personality’. He had worked especially hard to find his own voice; now he needed to adapt to completely different styles—as if donning a Rococo wig!”

The Holberg Suite movements:

  1. Praeludium (Allegro vivace)
  2. Sarabande (Andante)
  3. Gavotte (Allegretto)
  4. Air (Andante religioso)
  5. Rigaudon (Allegro con brio)

Getting to know Edvard Grieg

Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born on Thursday June 15, 1843 on the ‘lively shopping street of Strandgaten” in Bergen – a small, busy Norwegian town.

The fourth of five children born into a ‘bourgeous’ family, Grieg’s education naturally included music. His father, Alexander, had inherited a successful family business trading in dried fish and lobster. Growing up in this environment influenced Grieg’s development as a composer and according to Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, Grieg claimed “There is both cod and coalfish in my music.”

Edvard Grieg

​Grieg’s mother, educated at the musicconservatory in Hamburg, was a singer and respected pianist. So it is not surprising Grieg showed a strong interest in music, and for the piano as instrument, from a very early age.

The summer of 1885 saw “the most important single event” in Grieg’s life with a visit by his uncle, celebrated violin virtuoso Ole Bull. ​Bull (dubbed the “fairy-tale god” by Edvard) was so impressed hearing Grieg play his own compositions he convinced Grieg’s parents to send him to Leipzig “to become an artist”.

At 15 ​Edvard Grieg was sent to study at Europe’s foremost conservatory in Leipzig. There he attended every orchestra rehearsal at the Gewandhaus concert hall spare time allowed. He is said to have later reminisced: “It was a delight to hear so much splendid music. It refined both my spirit and my musical sensibilities.”​

Despite developing pleurisy while in Leipzig, resulting in a collapsed lung and lifelong damage and ill-health, he graduated with exceptional results in 1862.

Grieg the composer

In 1861 ​Edvard Grieg gave his first concert in Karlshamn, Sweden before moving to Denmark’s capital. In Copenhagen he socialised with well know composers including Gade, his first great idol. During this time he also met the Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, whose love of everything Norwegian rubbed off on Grieg.

In 1867, after a three year engagement - and against the wishes of both families - ​Edvard Grieg married his cousin Nina, whom he met during his time in Denmark. The couple moved to Kristiania (Oslo) where Grieg earned a living as a piano teacher and conductor. It was here, in 1868, where his daughter Alexandra was born. In that same year he also composed his Piano Concerto in A minor which placed him firmly on the map as one of the greatest composers of his time.

The loss of his daughter to meningitis at just a year old saw the couple transition to a nomadic life travelling around Europe until Edvard left Nina in 1883.

It was shortly after this separation Grieg composed Fra Holbergs tid, Op. 40.

You can find more detail on ​Edvard Grieg’s later life here:  Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek

​Book your tickets for the STEEL CITY STRINGS performance of ​​Edvard Grieg’s wonderful Holberg Suite Op 40 originally written for piano and later adapted for string orchestra by Grieg himself.​ This beautiful suite is the opening performance for the Steel City Strings Strings with Voices program - an exciting collaboration with con voci

June 23 - Wollongong Art Gallery 7.30pm ​details >

June 24 - Burrawang School of Arts 2pm ​details >

July 1     - The Pavilion Kiama 2pm ​details >

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.

Click to Tweet

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.

1 2 3 4