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Orchestrating a musical move

Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra.
Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra members Andrea Sitas, Evan Setiawan, Professor Dawn Bennett and Elias Kokkoris at Bond University. Picture: Cavan Flynn

Bond University has added another string to its bow as the new home of the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra.

The orchestra becomes ‘ensemble-in-residence’ at the Varsity Lakes campus which will host six performances a year, the first on December 4.

The partnership complements Bond’s creative arts repertoire that includes an acclaimed film and television program and the nation’s largest private collection of Indigenous Australian art on public display.

Anna Stoddart founded the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra in 2011 and said the move to Bond would allow the orchestra to perform to its growing fanbase.

“We’ve been getting full houses of more than 200 people per concert so to have the venues the university offers will take us to the next level,” said Ms Stoddart, who manages the orchestra.

“It’s a good thing for us, for Bond, and for the Gold Coast as it develops as a city.”

Bond University Assistant Provost Dawn Bennett was a professional musician before entering academia and plays viola in the 22-piece chamber orchestra. 

The former Adelaide Symphony Orchestra musician said the camaraderie of fellow performers eased the loneliness she felt after moving from Perth to the Gold Coast.

“I came over in April last year right in the middle of Covid for a great job, but it was hard because I left my husband and all my family behind,” Professor Bennett said.

“It was tough, so I went online to see if there were any orchestras or ensembles I might be able to play with.

“I thought it would be a great way of meeting people and fortunately they said, ‘Yes, we would love to have a viola player.”

As part of the orchestra’s partnership with Bond University, musically-minded students and staff will be able to audition to join the orchestra.

Accomplished violinist and composer Jordon He is studying the Juris Doctor program at Bond and also performs with the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra.

The first performance at the university will feature the sextet Fantasia composed by Mr He.

Another orchestra member, Evan Setiawan, is a violinist and Head of Strings at Coomera Anglican College. Several of his students have gone on to study at Bond University.

“These days a lot of students are introduced to classical music through movie soundtracks,” Mr Setiawan said.

“I think it takes a little bit of understanding to fully appreciate it, a bit like fine wine. But as students grow and learn classical instruments, they can't help but fall in love with classical music.”

Ms Stoddart said she hoped the orchestra would eventually become professional with full-time musicians and undertake tours.

She hinted the university could get a signature tune: its own Bond theme. 

For details of the upcoming performance, go to

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