Toby Koeford is a talented violinist and DSO Young Artist Program (YAP) graduate, now performing alongside Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

Toby has been with DSO’s Young Artist Program since 2021 after moving to Darwin from Melbourne.

How did you come to be a part of DSO’s Young Artists Program (YAP)? How many years have you been a part of YAP?

I joined the Young Artist Program here at DSO when my family and I came up from Melbourne in early 2021. I was previously involved in a string orchestra at my school, so I was eager to find something similar. Conveniently, through some church and school connections, I was introduced to the program which I have now been a part of for 3 years.

What is your favourite performance or memory from your time with YAP?

Early on, we did a performance at Crocodylus Park (Sonic Safari) which I really enjoyed. We had these feathery masks and scarfs that we wore and we played simple yet enjoyable music for young kids. Although the feathers got everywhere, having an audience filled with tiny little people who were having heaps of fun listening to our music, was just a very special experience.

How did you transition to playing with DSO?

I joined DSO because I was strongly encouraged by Tara Murphy, DSO Concertmaster and Education/Outreach Officer who is an extremely enthusiastic person. Once Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was announced I was too excited at the opportunity to be sitting around at home. My first concert with DSO was Sunset Symphony, followed by Rhythm of the 90s earlier in the year, which was helpful because the repertoire didn’t push my skill level too hard too soon. My transition was supported also by the Family Proms concert, intended for young artists to explore the larger orchestral experience.

What has it been like playing with the second violins this year? What has been the most enjoyable part of this experience? What has been the most challenging?

The second violins have been incredibly welcoming to me this year. Lucy, our Sectional Principal has been super encouraging to me and it has been really easy to slot right in. I have really enjoyed growing my musical skills in an environment that is both professional and fun. This orchestra is completely built on community, and to be laughing and enjoying the work we do is what makes it special to me. The most challenging aspect would definitely be the music. I often find myself really pushing as I learn the repertoire, especially Beethoven… but although the work is hard for me currently, I am really enjoying it and am grateful for this opportunity.

What performance are you most looking forward to next year, and why?

I am really looking forward to Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony in August next year, especially the 2nd movement. The work was written during the 2nd World War, in fact as Prokofiev raised his baton the artillery thundered, and only after it stopped did he begin. I think that the craftsmanship of his lyrical melodies support both the grandeur and heroism of war, but also the sorrow and hardship from it. I think the work is put together in a very significant way, but also sounds incredibly cool.

What is one piece of advice you would give younger students?

My advice to younger students would be that sometimes the sections that you can play really well are not forte or loud, but softer than you think. Personally, I get excited and carried away when I can play confidently, but finding balance in the orchestra is very important, remembering that performing with others is very different from solo performance.

Be sure to see Toby performing in Vital Forces, and other DSO concerts, in 2024!

Click the link below to learn more about DSO’s Young Artists Program.