BRINDABELLA Orchestra violinist John Cope remembers his first orchestral epiphany. It was Rossini's La Gazza Ladra Overture, and he was still a teenager.
"When I was about 17 or 18, my sister-in-law - who wasn't my sister-in-law at the time - gave me a recording of this piece.
"And although I was familiar with music and my mum and dad played, I wasn't that familiar with orchestral music. And that piece just blew my mind, and it hooked me on orchestral music," he said.
Mr Cope will be playing that piece again with the Brindabella Orchestra in Queanbeyan on Sunday, May 18, along with three other light classical pieces in a program titled 'Autumn Leaves'.
"It's great to be playing it at this concert. It's so full of energy," Mr Cope said.
The program also includes Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours and Khachaturian's Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia and Kodaly's Four Dances.
The Orchestra itself is going from strength to strength under two new former military conductors in Craig Johnson and Mitch De Jong.
Formally the U3A orchestra for senior musicians, the Brindabella Orchestra has evolved to become a full community orchestra with musicians old and young, and from all walks of life.
Mr Cope and his wife have played with the group for several years now, and he said it was both a challenge and a joy.
"Orchestra playing is so different to just playing by yourself," he said. "It's much more demanding, and I must say at first I was lost. But I stuck with it, and there are still occasions when I get lost! But we've got so many competent players.
"The people are very fine people, and we're very fortunate at the moment that we have the services of two army band conductors in Craig Johnson and Mitch De Jong.
"They bring a bit of discipline to our rehearsals," he laughed.
* See the Brindabella Orchestra perform its 'Autumn Leaves' program at The Queanbeyan Uniting Church at 2pm on Sunday, May 18. Entry is a gold coin or small note donation, and includes afternoon tea.