By BRIGID VEALE
WITH a hat-trick of awards from the Trinity College of London and a range of other achievements under her belt, Coffs Harbour violinist Rachael Wilks has her sights set on gaining a place at the Sydney or Brisbane conservatorium.
The 16-year-old musician is a member of the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium String Ensemble, directed by Julie Metcalfe, and is taught violin by Virginia Pfieffer.
After completing Grade 8 in violin in 2006, she was awarded the Trinity College Regional Medal for the highest distinction mark achieved in grades six to eight (for all instruments including voice) in the Northern Rivers region.
Rachael was also awarded the regional medal in 2005 and 2002, an achievement her teacher described as 'outstanding'.
Now in Year 11 at Bishop Druitt College, Rachael has also received numerous awards at the Coffs Harbour Regional Eisteddfod. She was invited to play with the North Coast Camerata Symphony Orchestra, normally reserved for adults, and attended the Riverina Summer School of Strings, held in Wagga Wagga in January this year.
"I've been playing since Year 3 and practice around two to three hours a day ? more when I'm practising for an exam or an eisteddfod," Rachael said.
"I would really like to go to the Conservatorium in Brisbane or Sydney, but it's very competitive. I would really love to be in a string quartet ? I love the connection between the players and how the music unfolds."
For the moment, Rachael is studying for her Associate level (ATCL) ? the equivalent of tertiary level in violin. Her exam will involve playing a concerto in its entirety and two other pieces.
Rachael is also a member of a string quartet, the Cantabile Quartet, put together by her school. The quartet has started performing around town this year.
"My teacher Virginia makes it fun and makes me want to go even higher. She's very enthusiastic and manages to create a real love of the instrument."