Free movement, social justice and great performances: Reflections on ANBOC 2018

Rob Squires

Anboc.2018 was held in Brisbane between 4 – 7 October at the State Library of Queensland. There were over 70 professional development opportunities for string, band, jazz and orchestral conductors of school and community ensembles.  Delegates attended keynotes, lectures, ensemble workshops, panel discussions and interactive sessions with the themes of:

  • Teaching (on and off the podium)
  • Navigating the middle-years 
  • Wellness

As a community band conductor, I found the wellness and teaching on/off the podium sessions most valuable.

One of the most popular sessions was presented by Dr. John Lynch of the Sydney Conservatorium.  John guided participants through warm up and free movement exercises for conductors. For those that are not familiar, free movement is a concept where you put on some music, close your eyes and move to the feel of (but not conduct) the music. While you may feel and look a bit silly doing this, it is a lot of fun. The concept encourages us to move beyond beat patterns and become more expressive conductors.

Also popular was a keynote and breakout session by Dr. Anita Collins about music education and the brain. Statistically, students who play a musical instrument are likely to perform better academically compared to their peers who don’t. Anita advised that a documentary “Don’t stop the music” will air on the ABC in November and there will be a national education campaign to go with it.

Two evening concerts were held in the Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium Theatre at Southbank. The first of these, was the Opening Gala Concert jointly presented by the Queensland Conservatorium’s Symphony Orchestra and Wind Orchestra under the direction of Dr Peter Morris.

The program was anchored by the theme of social justice, and highlights included: Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Bernstein’s Slava! (with added one-liners from our pollies) and New Morning for the World featuring Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech; (of which the line “…not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” is still relevant today in 2018.)

The second and final evening concert was presented by Queensland Wind Orchestra (QWO) under the direction of David Law and Guest conductors Prof. Rob McWilliams and Rachel Howley. A highlight of this concert was Percussionist, Composer and Educator, Nathan Daughtrey performing as a soloist in his own composition Concerto for Vibraphone and Wind Ensemble.

Lunches, Morning and Afternoon Teas were certainly a highlight of ANBOC. The caterers did an exceptional job feeding the masses each day. Over food and drink Delegates networked and visited the various trade stalls (without which ANBOC could not occur).  It was good to see the regular trade stalls at ANBOC such as those from Tim Ferrier and Brolga Music. At the latter, was our very own Jemima Bunn who was awarded a National Citation of Excellence from ABODA. (Well done Jemima!)  

ANBOC was a great opportunity to catch up with former summer conducting school clinicians Peter Morris, John Lynch and Rob McWilliams, each of whom presented topics they were passionate about. (some of these were a timely refresher on previous concepts from summer conducting schools).

Those who also attended ANBOC in Brisbane, I encourage you to share your experience with colleagues, in the hope they consider attending the next ANBOC.

Finally, I would like to thank ABODA VIC for giving me the opportunity to attend this year’s ANBOC and congratulate ABODAQ on the success of the conference.

Rob Squires
Mansfield and District (MAD) Orchestra, Mansfield

Rob was awarded one of two scholarships provided by ABODA Victoria for members to attend ANBOC 2018.