Mrs Carey's Concert heads to Byron Bay

AFTER starting his career as a hard-nosed journalist, documentary film maker Bob Connolly has realised the key is in the subject. You don’t have to change the world.
Mrs Carey’s Concert, Connolly’s latest doco with co-director Sophie Raymond, is about a Sydney girls’ school and how music director Karen Carey guides them to their best – a classical music concert staged at the Opera House.
“Every two years these kids perform these outstanding concerts at the Opera House and we just wanted to look at how that happens,” Connolly says. “Karen Carey intentionally gives these kids tasks they don’t think they can do.”
Involving every girl in the school, Carey manages to pull it all together, but it isn’t without its struggles.
“When you’re shooting it you really have to concentrate on what is actually happening,” Connolly says.
The key, says Connolly, is figuring out who the key characters are and what the key narrative is.
“It was clear that there was this star solo violinist, but it was also clear that Karen Carey had to keep this girl from going off the rails– which she was doing,” Connolly says. “It’s also about why they have to do it in the first place. Why is it compulsory? And Karen is the one pushing for it.”
Iris, one of the students, carries the main opposition to participation in the concert, something she says is not of interest to her and she’s not alone.
But, Mrs Carey perseveres to the end and it all seems worth it as the concert is staged all those months after rehearsals began.
“The final concert at the Opera House, while it’s a bit of a struggle to get there, because there are those who just aren’t interested, they are absolutely blown away by it and you can see that on their faces when they’re playing,” Connolly says.
Training the girls to such a high standard is part of the challenge and one that needs to be done through classical music, according to Mrs Carey. Connolly agrees.
“I think that’s one of the things that set her program apart from any of the others,” he says. “And what she says, and I tend to agree with her, is that Bach, Beethoven, Brahms– they really are the pinnacle of Western music.
“To play that stuff there are no short cuts. There’s no getting by on four chords and a guitar– you have to know what you’re doing.”
Mrs Carey’s Concert opens at Dendy Byron Bay on Thursday May 26.

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