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Antrim teen to perform with music ensemble at Syndey Opera House



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:50AM

In the fifth grade, Austin Sloan of Antrim got his first look at an alto saxophone, one of several instruments brought into his music class. He went home and asked his mother to get him one, and hasn’t looked back since.

Now, at age 15, Sloan traveled this month to Sydney, Australia, to perform in the famed Sydney Opera House along with other high-school musicians from around the globe, as part of the High School Honors Performance Series.

Sloan, who will be a sophomore at ConVal High School in Peterborough this fall, submitted an audition tape to the program on the recommendation of his music teacher. It’s not the first time that he’s been selected for the series – he performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City as an eighth-grader, he said.

“It was the biggest building I’d ever played in,” Sloan said.

But what he remembers most about the experience, he said, was the sensation of playing with other people his age that were just as serious about music as himself.

“That’s what I want,” Sloan said. “That’s why I try out, because I know that the people I’m trying out with want to work hard and give the audience the best performance that they can.”

As it is for many people, music is an emotional tether for Sloan.

“When I listen to it, it calms me down. Well, it calms me down if I want it to calm me down. Other times, I use it to hype me up,” Sloan said.

Even when he’s listening to music for fun, he tends to tap along to the beat, Sloan said. He has a wide variety of tastes, including hip-hop and rhythm and blues, to old-time jazz and swing.

He’s also diverse in the types of music he likes to play, Sloan said – it’s one of the things about the alto saxophone that appeals to him as an instrument.

“I just like that it’s unique. You can play many different styles, and that gives it more variety than other instruments. I think that’s why I’ve stuck with it for so long. It is different from other instruments,” Sloan said.

Though in the midst of his summer break, it’s not unusual for Sloan to practice between six and eight hours a week – most of which lately has been devoted to getting down the music for his upcoming performance in Sydney.

During the six-day trip, Sloan and other teen musicians will practice near non-stop with world-renowned conductors, in order to present a concert of five songs. While there will be several days leading up to the performance where the ensemble will practice together for nearly 12 hours a day, the students have also been sent the sheet music in advance to begin their preparations.

Sloan hasn’t been putting that time to waste, using it to listen to versions of the songs on YouTube, and practicing both alone and playing along to recordings to help simulate playing along with the band. He keeps a pencil handy to mark trouble spots or significant transitions on his music sheets.

Sloan’s parents will be traveling with him and in addition to preparing for his musical performance, Sloan said, he and his parents have planned time both before and after to explore Sydney.

“I’m very nervous, but really excited for it,” Sloan said. “I’ve never been out of the country, so it’s a new experience for me. It’s so far from home, and there will be more people watching than I’ve ever had before. I’m also a perfectionist, so I want to make sure everything’s perfect.”

Sloan left for Australia on July 12, and is set to perform with the instrumental ensemble at the Sydney Opera House on July   21.