Julia Brooke, Horn and Liam O’Malley, Associate Principal Trombone maintained a long-distance relationship for over five years before the opportunity arose to share the stage of Perth Concert Hall.
How did you meet?
Julia - Liam and I met at National Music Camp (an Australian Youth Orchestra program) in 2007. We started dating several months later, despite him living in Brisbane and me living in Sydney. We had a brief period of time where we both lived in Sydney, but otherwise we did long-distance for over five and a half years.
What is the best thing about working with your other half?
Julia - Working with someone you are close with is always an added bonus. I think the best thing however comes from outside of work - that there is someone there who understands the stresses, pressures and also the joys of our job. It is quite a unique profession, so not having to explain why you may have had a bad day because you messed up a solo is quite nice.
Liam - Going through both the highs and lows together is something that is nice to be able to share. The absolute understanding of what each other does for work makes the emotional side of it quite easy. I think the best thing by far though is sharing in the euphoric high that comes from playing an amazing concert.
What have you learnt from each other musically?
Julia - Liam is a very naturally talented musician, with an amazing work ethic. He has an ease to his playing and its beautiful to listen to. Knowing Liam has helped me think more about the overall result of music making, rather than getting caught up in too many small details. As I am a natural stress head, this is something I do very well.
Liam - With Julia, I admire the absolute detail she puts into her practice and performance. As a big picture person, I sometimes look past the importance of those one percenters and seeing her diligently work on those makes me try to do the same. Julia is a very emotional person and seeing her put that 100% into her craft is an inspiration also.
What do you love about being part of WASO?
Julia - It truly is a world class orchestra, which seems to be improving all the time. I especially love my horn section! But as well as this, its also a really fantastic group of people. Being so far away from our families, the people in WASO have become part our West Coast family and I’m so grateful for that.
Liam - The family that is WASO; and I don’t just mean the orchestra. There is a real connection between players but I feel there is a strong sense of a WASO community. We love our audience as much as they love us. It really is a thrill to play in this amazing orchestra, but being able to share all of those performances with our audience makes it that much better. I must say I totally miss the thrill of playing to a live audience.
If you weren’t musicians what career do you think would suit you?
Julia - This question always stumps me, as I’ve never thought of doing anything else. If I have to answer, maybe something in Dietetics…or a full-time dog walker.
Liam - I had planned on a career in sports science right up until the end of my schooling; I took a punt on music and it seems to have worked out. I’d say Physio for a sports team would be a great job.
How did you first get into music?
Julia - I grew up in a very musical family. Both of my parents are professional musicians (my Dad was a Bassoonist in the Sydney Symphony up until seven years ago, and mum an opera singer and incredible high school music teacher). Our community was always surrounded by music, and both my sister and I sang and played instruments from a fairly early age.
Liam - Sitting on the steps of my mother’s music room at the age of two singing along to Suzuki piano lessons. I was kicked out many a time. I was lucky enough to grow up in a country Queensland town that had an amazing music program. Great choirs, community banding and a youth orchestra I played full symphonies with from the age of 12.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Julia - I’ve been improving my skills as a knitter over the past few years, which has been handy as I’ve had several close friends have babies around the same time. I also always need to stay active, and generally do that through Barre classes, boxing or running after our insane dog Enid. Liam and I both love cooking, and have used this lockdown time to explore recipes that we might not usually get around to making.
Liam - I am an avid sports fan so lockdown has been torture! I have just recently been able to return to playing Ultimate Frisbee and Pickleball; both niche sports but extremely fun to play. With the relaxing of social distancing laws, three colleagues and I now have a weekly doubles tennis match. Here’s hoping that continues; what we’re playing is now somewhat resembling tennis!