Cellist ends year on a high note

Quirindi High School student Jackson Worley has secured a prestigious national scholarship.

08 December 2020
Male student wears maroon jumper and plays the cello.
Image: Jackson Worley: ‘Dream come true’.

Growing up in a small community in north-west NSW has proved no obstacle for an Aboriginal student awarded a prestigious national music scholarship.

Kamilaroi man and Quirindi High School Year 12 student Jackson Worley has received the inaugural One Day in January Scholarship from the Short Black Opera.

The scholarship will allow Jackson to work with Australia's first all-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chamber ensemble, Ensemble Dutala.

The new group has been established by Short Black Opera to promote excellence in instrumental training and opportunity (long term) for aspiring and talented ATSI musicians.

As the recipient of this award, Jackson will travel to Melbourne in January 2021 to participate in the annual One Day in January Summer Intensive program and join members of Ensemble Dutala for their 2021 program of performances.

Jackson, who has just started his HSC year, said he was “over the moon” about receiving the award as it was the first step on his journey to becoming a professional musician.

“To be a professional cellist would be a dream come true,” he said. “Getting this award is so surreal I haven’t got a grasp of it yet.”

Jackson found out about the award while working on Country with his aunt on a composition to accompany her doctoral thesis that includes a series of artworks.

He said having the opportunity to play alongside other ATSI performers was “really important”.

“I feel more of a connection to everyone there, it’s a very different feel,” he said adding that Short Black Opera artistic director Deborah Cheetham had told him he was now “part of the family”.

Jackson said he first started playing cello in Year 4 at Nundle Public School as part of a school music program run with the Tamworth Conservatorium of Music, that continues today.

“I wanted to play something different and I remember looking at this instrument and asking ‘what’s the sello’,” he laughed.

“I fell in love with it straight away.”

Jackson, who is completing his Music II class by Distance Education this year, said his scholarship was also recognition for his music teacher Emily Bishop, who had been teaching him since he first started.

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