Player Profile - Gracie Middleton

Meet Gracie Middleton - A die-hard musician at the tender age of only 10 and an enthusiastic violinist in TYO's Academy Strings. We caught up with Gracie after her recent feature performances in the Festival of Voices (and not on violin!).

TYO: What do you enjoy most about coming to TYO?
Gracie: That’s a really hard question! Well, my answer to that is that… Playing the violin with some of my friends who I only see at TYO, and… there’s just something different about playing violin in an orchestra. There’s so much more teamwork to it than in solo violin playing, and the sound of all of the instruments is just so full!

What do you appreciate about rehearsing in your TYO ensemble?
You’re really good at asking hard questions! I don’t have even the slightest idea of how to answer that! Of course, Dale’s efforts are thoroughly appreciated. She truly is an inspiration.

What has been your most memorable TYO moment to date?
Just playing in a group feels incredible! The whole experience is wonderful! But, we’ve also had comedic moments! When I was in Endeavour, during morning tea, Kate and Soph [from the ensemble] started trying to find out who could eat the most at once. And when I heard they had been doing that, I couldn’t resist the challenge. You see, I have an absolutely huge mouth. I can’t do what I did then anymore, but I remember it perfectly well. Sure, it took several attempts, but I managed to fit a whole milk arrowroot biscuit into my mouth without it breaking!

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt from being part of the TYO?
Teamwork. I can argumentative and stubborn, but what playing in an orchestra can do to develop teamwork skills is astounding!

How has the TYO helped your development as a musician?
Not sure, but I know it most certainly has!!!

How has the TYO helped your development as a person?
Sometimes, any of us can be annoying, but several of the players sometimes take the biscuit!  This could be a barrier if you didn’t know how to learn to be tolerant of rehearsal hijinks and battles for the playground equipment at break.
I guess that I’ve grown more tolerant thanks to TYO. Things haven’t always seemed like they were going so well in orchestra, because we have difficult days. But the orchestra’s pulled through. We always do. I also think that playing in TYO is one of the happiest experiences I’ve ever felt.

Do you have a message for our fabulous TYO supporters?
I think times might be tough in terms of politics and money for music, but music educates us fantastically and deserves support. AND the rewards are wonderful for the listeners.

What would you say to someone who has never heard of the TYO?

(Exclamation marks remain unedited)

... And it doesn't end there! Read on to discover Gracie's background and the many highlights of her brief, yet promising career to date. 

Gracie as spokeswoman during Endeavour Strings' TYO 50th Birthday performance (2015).

Gracie was born in Sydney in 2005, arriving two months early. Her folks reckon she came out the way she intended to continue, ready for action.

She moved to Tasmania when she was 5 months old, and lives in West Hobart, along with Pembroke Corgi Elsa, who is a little naughty. Gracie has always attended St Michael’s Collegiate, starting in the Early Learning Centre. She is currently in Grade 5, and will take up a music scholarship there from 2017.

Gracie plays violin and piano, and also studies classical voice with her Mum. She has received 1st prizes and certificates at local Eisteddfodau, and has completed a number of AMEB exams.

As well as TYO Academy Strings, Gracie plays in Broughton Sinfonia at school. She is really enjoying learning to improvise and compose with Mr McCarthy, Head of Strings there.

Her singing has seen her attend the 2016 Gondwana National Choral School in Sydney, as one of the youngest attendees. She played a major role in the Pied Piper of Hamelin at Collegiate last year, and recently sang in the Children’s Chorus for the Festival of Voices' St Matthew Passion, under Richard Gill. She was soloist in Paul Jarman’s Shackleton for both the "Tasmania Sings" and "Finale" concerts at Federation Concert Hall, which was nerve-wracking but wonderful. She intends to continue attending National Choral School each summer until she no longer qualifies, when she turns 25!

Other interests include writing poems and stories, reading books that are probably too old for her, drawing and a Pokémon addiction.

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