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Parkside Orchestra wins National Campus Band Competition


Sharlene King
3 October 2014
Parkside Orchestra came together officially as a band just three months ago, but a tight, punchy set at Sydney’s Home Bar nightclub on Wednesday night (October 1) impressed the judges to secure them the 2014 National Campus Band Competition crown.

There was no rest for the trio - Scott Finch (bass), Freyja Hooper (drums) and Torsten Gustavsson (vocals and guitar) – who were back on the plane early Thursday morning to perform at the end of year performance exams at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus that afternoon.

Among their prizes is $5000 cash and three days’ recording time at Jungle Studios in Sydney.

It was a double celebration for Scott who turned 22 when the winning band was announced at midnight.

“It was the best birthday present!” he said.

Scott said they expected Narla, who performed before Parkside Orchestra, to win.

“The crowd was on Narla’s side because they’re a Sydney band. The third and second placed bands were unexpected so we thought Narla had definitely won it.”

Tors said he still can’t believe the result.

“When they said our name, everyone was screaming. Our friends Polly and Michael even cried.

“We had the only female band member in the whole finals competition out of the seven bands. So it was cool. Freyja took that in her stride and turned that into a positive.”

Freyja was a finalist and selected as one of the world’s top twenty female drummers in the 2013 Hit Like a Girl international drummer competition.

“I think the band comp is an incredibly cool opportunity for up and coming musicians to get recognition and network with industry professionals,” Freyja said.

“It’s been an absolute blast competing in all of the heats. Australia definitely has a lot of wicked musos.”

Parkside Orchestra is lined up to play at the Mullum Music Festival and the Bangalow Home Grown Music Festival, both in November.

Southern Cross University line-ups have now won the national final five times since the NCBC’s inception in 1990. The most recent was The Downstairs Mix Up in 2009.

Dr Barry Hill, course coordinator of the Bachelor of Contemporary Music, said Parkside Orchestra’s win was well-deserved.

“They are fantastic musicians. It’s great to see them gel, from just three students who were playing and jamming together and working in a couple of different ensembles in different parts of the music program.

“It’s good to see all their abilities complement each other. Freyja is a powerhouse drummer and she’s already been internationally recognised in the Hit Like a Girl drumming competition.

“Tors came to Southern Cross University with a lot of great songwriting skills. The course has helped bring out his voice and confidence as player and songwriter.

“Scott has gone from strength to strength as a bass player. He has a really good work ethic.”

“Their success hopefully reflects the way that the SCU contemporary music program brings aspiring musicians together from all over the country and assists them in establishing networks within the music industry as quickly as possible.”

Dr Hill said it was important for Parkside Orchestra to capitalise on their success in the coming months.

“If they can get a good management and promotion team around them they can definitely be a success internationally. They are all great musicians now. They could perform on any festival stage in the world. It’s good to see.”

Freyja said she was looking forward to recording in the studio.

“Playing with the boys is an absolute blast. We have a tight friendship that reflects in our playing and attitude on stage.”

With only a handful of songs in their set list, Scott said they’ll come together for an extended writing session after the music exams were over.

“We need to focus on writing more because we’re still pretty new at it.”

Previous winners of the National Campus Band Competition include well-known Australian bands Eskimo Joe, The Vines, Jebediah, George, Grinspoon (SCU band), Waikiki and Augie March.

Photo: Parkside Orchestra on the stage at the SCU Unibar Lismore (Credit: Nick Cummins).