Sep 22

Stephen Phillips shares his NYO Experience 2009

Cheerleading and the soccer game

Cheerleading and the soccer game

People speak (from time to time) of “transformative experiences”, moments of “rare clarity” — sometimes even invoking cosmic influence, with talk of “planetary alignment” and such like.  Probably the most over-worked — and thus ‘popular’ — phrase in talk of this kind is “life-changing” — one we are more than well acquainted with and have perhaps all, at one time or another, taken recourse in when searching for adjectives to assist in the description of particularly significant events or moments in that silken (or not-so-silken) thread of which our ‘time here below’ consists.

Through a series of (in retrospect) particularly-fateful developments I found myself, in late 2008, having come to the attention of the SA NYO — at the very least as a ‘viable’ Australian contact who might prove of worth in establishing similar useful alliances in the event of an international tour to my country transpiring at some future point.  As usual (I like to think), giving of my best, I was happy to discuss plans and objectives with the young (though not inexperienced) new management team, particularly with respect to the renewed focus on the String Orchestra program — an area close to my heart and one on which I had expended a good deal of intellectual and emotional energy across (now that I think about it) a frightening number of years.

In light of this (what turned out to be) rather deep and passionate involvement with the Course (as I would learn to call it), an invitation to observe proceedings would have seemed perfectly natural; what eventuated — the offer to conduct the group — was an honour which I confess took me by total surprise.  Certainly I had not ‘pitched’ myself as suitable to the role — but evidence of ‘nous’ (I prefer to think) on the part of the Foundation; I leave it to the public and general sentiment to verify or denounce that claim.

For my part I have the following to report: a sequence of days of activities, interactions and memories of the most intense and indelible variety; faces, voices, conversations and locations I cannot forget (even should I wish it) and the personal thrill and achievement of sharing my music with talented and inspiring youngsters who would ‘progress’ from (in many cases) unpronouncable names to (very welcome) ‘adopted children’ as we cast our collective barque across waters only genuine enthusiasm — and genuinely collective purpose — can cross with any prospect of safety.  A forum this brief cannot hope to do justice to the wonder of this thing — and I wonder at it still.  “The Nationals ’09” will stand forever as a ‘Great Divide’ (a term familiar to us Aussies) in a life already rich (I had thought) with variety and privilege —  since June/July 2009, such notions have been obliged to undergo a rather drastic recalibration.  More power to ‘the Team’ and ‘the Gang’!  May I remain worthy of their trust, and their friendship.

Footnote:  I remain available for consultation etc. should the need arise……