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Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp at ANU in Canberra

The Hanna siblings are enjoying their first time at the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp.

The Hanna siblings seem to be proof of the saying that the family that plays together, stays together.

Natasha, 22, Karla, 20, and Josef, 18, from Melbourne, were all home-schooled and all began studying the violin at the age of three. And this year they are all taking part in the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp for the first time. It's an intensive two-week experience that's been run since 1948 and since 2005 has alternated between the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University.

Taking part in the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp are Natasha Hanna, 22, Josef Hanna,18, artist in ...
Taking part in the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp are Natasha Hanna, 22, Josef Hanna,18, artist in residence James Crabb and Karla Hanna, 20.  Photo: Melissa Adams

Each year, more than 200 people aged between 14 and 30 are chosen from auditions by more than 1000 applicants to work with conductors, soloists and orchestral tutors (up to age 22), as well as gain experience in composition, administration, music journalism and sound recording (up to age 30).

All three Hannas said they were enjoying themselves and Josef and Karla said they would "definitely" apply to take part in the camp again while they were still young enough to do so. Josef said, "It's incredible to be among so many like-minded, passionate people, it's really good."

Melbourne's Hanna siblings, Natasha, Josef and Karla, are attending the music camp for the first time.
Melbourne's Hanna siblings, Natasha, Josef and Karla, are attending the music camp for the first time.  Photo: Melissa Adams MLA

Natasha, a casual performer with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, said among the unfamiliar pieces she was learning in the camp were chamber works by George Frideric Handel and John Adams. Karla and Josef were playing in the Bishop Orchestra this week and rehearsing works by composers including Maurice Ravel and Astor Piazzolla.

Leading the orchestra in Piazzolla's Bandoneon Concerto while playing was one of the camp's artists-in-residence, Scottish-born classical accordionist James Crabb, also a first-timer at the AYO Summer Music Camp.

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"I love it," Crabb said of the experience.

"The quality of the playing is exceptional."

Natasha, Josef and Karla Hanna are among the group of more than 200 musicians attending the camp.
Natasha, Josef and Karla Hanna are among the group of more than 200 musicians attending the camp. Photo: Melissa Adams MLA

Crabb began learning accordion from his father, who played folk music, and branched into classical accordion. While he does a lot of arranging of classical repertoire, he said composition for the instrument picked up in the last half-century or so.

The AYO's chief executive officer, Colin Cornish, said Crabb and the other artist-in-residence, recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey, were "two artists who would represent their instruments at the Olympics, if these were the Olympics".

While they might have seemed unusual choices of instrumentalists, Cornish said it was good for the students to have experience of less conventional musical styles and career paths.

"This is the 21st century, it's not just about learning and trying to get a job and stay there for the rest of your life."

Free public concerts by performers at the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp begin at Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music, on Saturday at 4.30pm and 8pm and are also on January 14 at 8pm and January 15 at 5.30pm and 8pm. See ayo.com.au.