By Gisela Horner – Volunteer Publicity Officer, Bella Vista Farm
On a recent cold June ‘Open Day’ morning, when visitors arrived , one of the first things they were aware of was the beautiful music at Bella Vista Farm wafting through the garden.
Dorothy Sercombe, Concert Master of the Hills Shire Symphony Orchestra (HSSO), Lead Violin; Po Shen Wang, Lead Viola and Samantha Knutsen, Lead Cellist, entertained visitors for many hours. Dorothy set up the group for this particular performance. She says: “We are performers who play in a variety of groups, playing in the full orchestra or in smaller groups, such as our last performance at Bella Vista Farm”.
Dorothy has loved music all her life. She began playing piano at the age of five. When she moved school at age 11, she discovered a violin in the school library and immediately took up learning the violin.
The school had an encouraging attitude to music and Dorothy was involved in the school orchestra, accompanying choirs, the string quartet and also received an organ scholarship to play in chapel. She completed her Music Degree at Sydney University then decided to take a completely different career path.
She trained and became a dress designer, fulfilling another creative talent. However, music was always in her blood. She resumed violin lessons and studied for her Masters of Music in Violin Performance Degree. She loves playing and working as a musician embracing many different styles of music. Her musical life fulfils her which is displayed in her bubbly personality.
Po Shen Wang is a quietly spoken young man from Taiwan. He came to Australia with his parents and older sister when he was 11 years of age. The family was heading for Thailand, but Australia beckoned strongly and they arrived in 2006.
Po went to Homebush Boys High School, but his musical passion was fulfilled when he joined the Sydney Youth Orchestra (SYO), playing viola from Year 9. He furthered his music studies at The University of NSW and continued playing with the SYO for another six years. He is the only one of his family who is musical and can’t remember what fascinated him about the viola. He just knew he wanted to play the viola!
Po currently works in the solar panel industry which is a growing market, but would love to be a fully employed musician in an orchestra. Po plays regularly with the Hills Shire Symphony Orchestra, which gives him great joy.
The third member of the group is cellist Samantha Knutsen. Samantha began playing the cello at 15, somewhat later than her peers. However, after initially playing with the Sydney Youth Orchestra, her natural talent for music propelled her to study Performance at the Conservatorium of Music from 2010.
Samantha is very creative musically, but she loves a challenge and wanted to see if she could do something totally different, so decided on taking up a maths/technical based course at Wagga Wagga. This led her into a career in the RAAF from 2017, working as an aircraft avionics technician until 2021.
Her passion for playing cello never left her and after leaving the RAAF, she joined the HSSO and is now their Lead Cellist; she teaches students locally and plays at various weddings and functions. To add to her busy life, Samantha is currently studying Zoology at the University of NSW, Armidale, mostly by correspondence, but there are also periods on Campus doing practical classes. Winter can be a bit of a challenge with temperatures near zero!
What does she want to be ‘when she grows up’? She hasn’t yet decided. But one thing she does know is that her love of playing the cello and being part of an orchestra fulfils her and gives her great happiness.
Bella Vista Farm Open Day falls on the first Sunday of every month. Corner Elizabeth Macarthur Drive and Norwest Boulevard, Bella Vista. Hours from 0900-1400.
Further details can be found on – https:// www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Upcoming-Events-Activities/Bella-Vista-Farm-Open-Day