Reflections on Mastery & MCO


photo credit: Melbourne Chamber Orchestra Photo of Bill Hennessy, Artistic Director

Tonight was the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra’s celebration of a wonderful year. I was honoured to join the event as a board member. 2014 was a year in which the orchestra performed more than the prior two years combined, covered the distance from Melbourne to Mackay in its regional touring program inside the state of Victoria and entertained over 10,000 people with the artistry of their music. 


Discussing the year with Bill Hennessy, the Artistic Director, and the other artists, I was not surprised that the conversations often turned to a discussion of mastery of one form or another. To choose a career in music is to choose a quest for mastery with the associated joys and frustrations. 

This is a group that knows well that mastery is not a designation or a destination, but endless determination. Artists understand that they must practice, rehearse, find more new ways to perform, share their expertise and constantly push themselves to better their art. The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra is only one vehicle in their quest but an important opportunity to perform, to explore the chamber music repertoire and to learn from others.

Mastery & Flow

The most remarkable rewards of this effort are the experience of flow. That moment when a greater challenge matches rising skills and pushes them further forward. The struggles drop away and there is an intensity of focus on performance itself. 

Sharing that experience with others, both artists and audience, is a remarkable event. The music generated makes the hair on your neck stand with its artistry, passion, energy and intimacy. An MCO concert or any chamber music concert is an opportunity to see, hear and feel this in action.

Mastery & Community

In pursuit of mastery and a life, Musicians are freelancers in a global economy of talent. Artist there tonight will be performing around Australia and the world before the next MCO performance begins the 2015 season. Their success depends on patrons, networks but above all the ever growing quality of their performances. We are lucky that they choose to base themselves in Melbourne to share their talents with us and to contribute to Melbourne’s rich musical community.

As the world of work changes, there is much we can learn from these artists on the importance of the quest for mastery. Our work is never done. We can get better. We must practice, learn and work. We need greater challenges to perform better. Our work can flow. Most of all we need communities who support us to perform at our best.

To learn more about MCO and its 2015 season, see

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