Mrs Carey's Concert

Mrs Carey's Concert


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This sweetly uplifting documentary follows the preparation undertaken by the Methodist Ladies College to perform their two-yearly concert at Sydney Opera House - an all-consuming event that features the participation of every single student.

Co-directors Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond neatly set the scene by beginning their film with footage from the 2007 concert, in which violinist Doretta Balkizas has a key solo. As we see her bow saw majestically away, we hear the voice of Mrs Carey - the school's musical director - as she talks about how daunting it is for her students to take on roles such as this, but how wonderful it is when they do.

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The documentarians then go on to capture the highs and lows of the preparation for the 2009 concert, both from the perspective of the teachers and staff. Key among those they focus on are Emily Sun, the violinist earmarked to lead the orchestra next time around and Iris Shi, a disrupters' disrupter, who simply won't buy in to the team ethic.

Over the course of the following months, we watch as Emily develops from a shy girl who, in her own words is "not responsible" into someone who is putting passion at the heart of her music. "You get 10 points if you can make me cry," one of the teacher's tells her as she performs a piece he has written. On the other hand, we see how Iris actually manages to take something of a toll on her teachers with her obstinate refusal to join in.

Although taking a while to find its rhythm, due in part to the large number of kids who are captured, Mrs Carey will strike a chord with anyone who has ever taken part in a school orchestra. Connolly and Raymond capture both the pressure and joy of practice and performance and include plenty of footage of the teenagers simply going about the process of growing up and learning to work together. They also take the time to speak to the students themselves about the music and their approach towards it, which offers up some surprising insights. The entire film is accompanied by the, frequently beautiful, music that the orchestra and choir go on to create and the emotional high achieved by their ultimate performance is the perfect end to their journey, earned and exhilarating.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2011
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The determined Mrs Carey prepares her pupils to deliver the concert of a lifetime at the Sydney Opera House.
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Director: Bob Connolly, Sophie Raymond

Starring: Karen Carey

Year: 2010

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Australia

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