Last year The Bradford Trio won Gold at the 2023 International Youth Music Festival in Bratislava against some of the best young musicians from around the globe. Meredith Woinarski (Head of Keyboard) chatted with the trio – 2023 graduates Crystal, Oscar and Victoria about their unique musical journey, which began in Year 7 at Caulfield Grammar School.  

Meredith: I teach piano, oboe and theory across all campuses. Today we’ve got a fantastic interview with a group that I’ve been with for six years – the Bradford Trio.  

Crystal: I’m Crystal and I play the violin.  

Victoria: I’m Victoria. I play piano in the Trio. I also play cello and I sing.  

Oscar: I’m Oscar and I play cello in the Trio and saxophone in the jazz band.  

M: How did the Bradford Trio actually start?  

O: We started in Year 7. Mrs Meehan, Head of Music, sent an email advising which ensembles we were in. We just happened to be in The Bradford Trio.  

C: Mrs Woinarski, you’ve been with us since the beginning. How do you feel we’ve changed or grown during that time?  

M: Oh, dramatic change from the three little Year 7s that came through the door! I knew Oscar from the Junior School but had never met Victoria or Crystal. You’ve changed amazingly. It’s wonderful watching the three of you growing together over six years. It’s quite an emotional journey, I’m finding, to say goodbye this year after six years of working very closely with you. Out of all the groups I’ve had, the three of you have just really bonded and made such a great friendship, not only at School but outside. You’re committed to your music and have spent a lot of afternoons, holidays and weekends rehearsing for competitions, but you get along socially as well. Do you remember the first time you played together?  

V: I remember we played a concert in the Senior Music room in Term 1 of Year 7.  Our parents came and I’m pretty sure we played Ständchen [Schubert]. We were going to play the Allegro, but I felt unprepared, so I asked you both if we could play Ständchen. And you were really cooperative. We had a fun first concert.  

V: Mrs Woinarski, what is your musical background? When did you first start playing your instruments and what led you to choose piano and oboe?  

M: My musical background started when I was three years old. My mother is a concert pianist, so my sisters and I learnt piano. I was the only one who went on with music. I didn’t take up oboe until late in high school and went on to study it at the Victorian College of the Arts. I still kept up my piano by accompanying the Australian Children’s Choir and teaching students. When I graduated, I was fortunate to have a successful casual musician career, playing with Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the big shows that come into Melbourne (Phantom, Cats and Wicked). I was also a member of a woodwind quintet – flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon. And we had about two or three years together with a successful subscription concert at Melbourne Town Hall. That’s where my love for chamber music started. You’ve all just come back from the European Strings Tour. Can you tell us a bit about that?  

V: The Tour was a combined tour with Kaiser Strings and Chamber Strings, with competitions in Europe.  

C: We went to Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Bratislava. Our competitions were in Bratislava and Vienna and we were quite successful. In Vienna, we came third, but it was a very prestigious competition, so we still did really well. And in Bratislava, we came first for both Chamber Strings and Bradford Trio. So that was pretty exciting.  

M: Do you have any memories, Oscar, of how you felt when you were performing?  

O: It was nerve wracking. The hall was so nice. I’m not saying Mem Hall is bad, but I don’t think the Trio has played in anything that nice. I remember being in the hotel and we just basically practised every night because we were so nervous.  

C: What have been your own experiences of playing in ensembles and what were some challenges?  

M: I’ve played in a lot of orchestras. As an itinerant musician, you turn up, having never seen the music. You often have one, maybe two, rehearsals and then you’re off. I know with ‘Wicked’ we had two orchestral rehearsals and then sitzprobe (when the singers come in). Then we do sound check in the pit, a couple of runs on the stage, dress rehearsal and then preview. You’ve got to be on your toes and know what you’re playing. I’m a multi-instrumentalist. I have an oboe and a cor anglais – and I’ve got to be able to quickly change. It’s a lot of fun, but also hard work doing eight shows in a week as well as schoolwork.  

O: How is directing an ensemble different to playing in or being a member of an ensemble? How do you look at the big picture in terms of arrangement?  

M: When you’re playing, you’re obviously involved in what you’re doing. Directing, I’ve become more aware of listening to the different parts. I can hear the balance of the instruments, any wrong notes, if people have practised their part. But directing an ensemble, you have a great responsibility to help and guide in ways of style. What are your plans after school?  

V: We’re hoping to continue playing gigs as a trio, like weddings. Personally, I will keep up my piano, maybe do a Diploma in Music at university, or help my sister out with accompaniments here and there.  

O: Hopefully, university doesn’t overwhelm my music. I hope to keep playing saxophone and cello. I want to hire a baritone saxophone so I can play in an outside jazz band. I really hope to continue my music after my journey here at Caulfield Grammar.  

C: I’d like to join the university orchestras next year and also try teaching and helping my violin teacher out.  

M: Music has been a huge part of your lives. So I’d actually encourage you to somehow keep it going. You put so much into music, not only at school with the trio, but it’s part of you. So good luck with everything and thank you very much for the wonderful time that we’ve had together.