Virginia Comerford

Virginia Comerford

Q. When did you join SYO? R. Hmmm..a lonoong time ago! Not sure exactly, but it would’ve been the early to mid 1980sQ. What instruments did you play in SYO?R. Violin then ViolaQ. What is your favourite memory of  SYOR. No single favourite, but here’s some background:Hailing from Newcastle, although I was involved in lots of music, it wasn’t until I joined SYO that I found a certain kindredship. I remember being completely daunted at first, but the journey of incredible music-making and friend-making was an exciting start to a life beyond the predictable. In the early years, my mother and I would leave Newcastle very early every Saturday morning to drive down to Sydney (a 3 hour journey in those days!) with our thermos of tea and packed sandwiches, so that I could attend my violin lesson at the Con with Janet Davies followed by SYO rehearsals. Sometimes we’d even squeeze in an opera performance! In Years 11 and 12 I moved into a flat in Stanley Street Darlinghurst so that I could attend the Con High School. As SYO was based at Sydney Grammar School at the time, I literally lived across the road from rehearsals. As you can imagine I was the butt of many jokes when I was consistently the last to arrive!Q. What role does music play in your life?R. A huge one – I have only ever been a professional musician! I currently hold the position of Principal Viola with the Opera Australia Orchestra. My daughter shares my musical penchant and is now a member of SYO as well.Q. What is your favourite musical repertoire from the SYO performances? R. A standout for me was playing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony the Pathetique under the baton of Stuart Challender. Just incredibleQ. What advice would you give young musicians  today?  R.

L-isten – to tutors, conductors, each other, yourself, your idolsO-pen your heart and remember that music-making is sharingV-iolas rule!E-njoy and enthuse – always!

Born in Newcastle NSW, Virginia studied a multitude of instruments before settling on viola as her primary instrument, completing her studies with Peter Pfuhl, then Principal Viola with the Sydney Symphony. She gained experience as Principal Viola at National Music Camps and the Australian Youth Orchestra, then at age 19 was appointed Associate Principal Viola with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. She also performed regularly with the Sydney Symphony, Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Tasmanian Symphony and the contemporary ensemble The Seymour Group.

Virginia left in 1994 to pursue a career in Europe, spending time first in Italy and then The Netherlands, where she performed with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Radio Symfonie Orkest, Nederlands Kamer Orkest, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, I Fiamminghi Chamber Orchestra in Belgium and with the Salzburg Soloists. She toured to Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.

Also interested in singing, Virginia combined her professional viola career with vocal training and in 1997 was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to pursue her vocal studies in London. Virginia returned to Sydney in 2001 and was appointed to her current position of Principal Viola with the Opera Australia Orchestra in 2010. She regularly performs chamber music, has performed for the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall and has been a member of AWO since 2015.



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