Music moves

Drumming up support: Turn up the Music Charitable Trust director Emma Wilson, centre, with orchestra leader Natasha Kumar and concert band leader Iraja Max

Queenstown’s first orchestra is about to strike up, along with a concert band.

Turn up the Strings and Turn up the Wind are being orchestrated by the Turn up the Music Charitable Trust, which is replacing the Lakes Community Music School.

A year ago, music school co-founder Emma Wilson was about to mothball it.

“We couldn’t get teachers, we couldn’t keep teachers, it was far too hard for me and [co-founder] Alison Price to run.”

Hearing of their plight, Queenstowner Jillian Jardine roped in new local, Bill Moran, who’d help set up the Play It Strange songwriting trust – he’s already pulling a lot of strings as board chair of the new trust.

“And honestly, things are moving so quickly, it’s going to be super-exciting,” Wilson says.

The orchestra will be led by new Wakatipu High music teacher and ex-Dunedin Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Natasha Kumar.

“I would like a full string section with first violins, second violins and cellos, as well as flutes, but we’ll see who signs up.” she says.

Another new Queenstowner, trumpeter Iraja Max, will lead the concert band – he’s calling for woodwind and brass players.

Both groups will start rehearsals in the second school term, after Easter.

Wilson says an orchestra’s been a big missing link for local music students.

“When you learn, you’re sitting sort of on your own with the instrument.

“It only really gets exciting when you get that sound with other people around you.”

She says performance opportunities for the orchestra and band are yet to be confirmed, “but as many as possible, really, because the point of learning something is then to be able to perform for people”.

Wilson’s also hoping to start other musical groups, like a choir.

Anyone keen to join the orchestra or band can email

Meanwhile, the trust’s inviting local and Central Otago music teachers to a function next Thursday to discuss opportunities.