Spectacular live auditions for regional students

Primary and secondary students strived to be pitch perfect in the hopes of securing a place in the world’s largest variety show. Alyssa Terese reports.

A girl with her hand up standing in front of a poster with a guitar on it. A girl with her hand up standing in front of a poster with a guitar on it.
Image: Nimbin's Avia Salvo Shinn auditioned for the Schools Spectacular for the first time at the Coffs Harbour rehearsal.

For the first time in Schools Spectacular’s 41 years, the audition team headed out to the regions this week for live Featured Artist vocalist auditions, giving Mid North Coast, New England and Riverina students a hometown advantage.

More than 40 budding vocalists gathered at their local conservatoriums in Coffs Harbour, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga from Tuesday 30 April to Friday 3 May.

In the hours before auditions, students participated in a half-day skills workshop to further develop performance quality and vocal technique.

Schools Spectacular Creative Director Sonja Sjolander said the workshops were designed to prepare students for both smaller regional stages and bigger settings.

“This year we were excited to meet students where they’re at, rather than asking them to come to Sydney,” Ms Sjolander said.

“There’s quite a hot-spot of interest outside of Sydney, so to be in the students’ home regions and give them further insight into what Schools Spectacular auditions and arts programs are all about, is beneficial for all involved.”

First time auditioner and Year 7 student at Nimbin Central School, Avia Salvo Shinn, travelled three hours to the Coffs Harbour conservatorium, but was grateful she didn’t have to travel eight hours to Sydney.

“I live in Nimbin – so having the opportunity to audition in Coffs Harbour is really good, because if auditions were in Sydney, I probably wouldn’t have auditioned,” Avia said.

“Having locally based auditions also gives opportunity to First Nations people like me to come and share their stories, because we do live in a lot of rural and remote areas.”

Year 9 Tamworth student Taryn Stewart from Peel High School was also grateful for the team’s presence in the New England region, removing the need for her to travel to auditions.

“I’m really excited to be here today, because I’m a local Tamworth girl, and it makes it really easy for travelling for most people,” she said.

The day wasn’t just about applying for this year’s Schools Spectacular; it also focused on helping students to develop skills at the local level to help them in further art pursuits.

“Workshops like these give students access to programs that have not previously been as accessible for students outside larger hubs,” Ms Sjolander said.

More than 5000 NSW public school students from hundreds of schools across NSW will come together at Qudos Bank Arena on 29 and 30 November2024 for the 41st anniversary of the Schools Spectacular.

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