Oscar’s Shakespearean task as talented students compose Romeo and Juliet reinvention

A gifted musician from Bega High School is one of a selection of talented high school performers from across NSW given the chance to reimagine the great love story Romeo and Juliet.

Oscar Gill, who plays the bass clarinet and baritone sax, worked with internationally renowned composer Paul Rissmann to help reinvent the great orchestral work of Sergei Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet.

He was one of 34 public school musicians and 12 dance students privileged to be part of the intensive enrichment experience.

The musicians travelled to Sydney for the five-day workshop from May 5 that deconstructed the Russian ballet score and worked collaboratively to compose 20-25 minutes of music.

From Tuesday, the dance students choreographed a routine to the new score. Their combined work was then performed on Saturday, May 12, at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


Mr Rissmann, an acclaimed music educator who has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and many of the world’s great orchestras, said he was excited by the opportunity to work with the students.

“It’s always such a pleasure to work with young musicians in Australia, challenging them to create and perform their own group composition,” he said.

“The work is intense, time is tight, but the results are always so rewarding.

“I am continually impressed by the high standard of musicianship and openness of the young musicians here in NSW.”

NSW Department of Education's Arts, Sports and Initiatives Unit director Rosemary Davis said the workshops were a wonderful experience for the students.

“Being part of a collaboration with an internationally recognised composer is a special opportunity regardless of where in NSW you live,” Ms Davis said.

“But for those young musicians and dancers who have travelled from outside Sydney it is also a wonderful chance to experience the city and work collaboratively with like-minded students.”