Riverina Summer School 

for Strings

Inspiring string players to live their passion for music

The next Riverina Summer School for Strings will be:

Saturday 6 January - Saturday 13 January 2018

The details below relate specifically to the 2017 school but also reflect the  program for 2018.   The staff will be updated in the next few months and enrolments will be open from July. However, Goetz Richter will not be able attend the next school but we are very pleased to welcome Susan Collins as the new Music Director and her profile is provided below.

Click here to see a video from 2015


Saturday 6 January 2018:

  • Registration from 1.00 pm
  • Auditions from 2.00 pm
  • Bush dance from 7.30 pm

The daily program from Sunday 7 January - Friday 12 January:

The Riverina Summer School for Strings is divided into four main sections:

  • Nelson Cooke Orchestra & Viva Ensemble

  • Charles Sturt Orchestra & Carl Pini Ensemble

  • Classical guitar

  • Scottish fiddle for folk players 

Nelson Cooke Orchestra & Viva - younger/less experienced
Sessions run 9.00 - 3.00

The Nelson Cooke Orchestra and Viva groups will develop ensemble playing and team work within a fun musical environment. Special emphasis will be placed on developing:

  • rhythmic skills
  • listening skills (intonation, tempo, dynamics)
  • sight reading
  • leadership qualities
  • concentration
  • understanding the role of a conductor
  • rehearsal techniques and how an orchestra functions
  • general musical history about composers and playing styles

There will also be a daily element of chamber music where the students will play in small mixed instrumental combinations. The week-long program will culminate in an opportunity to perform in the final concert.


Charles Sturt Orchestra & Carl Pini Ensemble - older/more experienced

Rehearsal: 9.00 - 10.30

The Charles Sturt Orchestra and Carl Pini Ensemble groups are for more experienced players and over the week will prepare a variety of works in a range of styles for presentation at the final concert.

Note: Membership of either orchestra or ensemble is not based purely on age and exceptions may be made where younger players of special ability would benefit from participating with more mature performers and for older players who would prefer to work in less-experienced group.


Sectional classes: 11.00 - 12.00

Each morning after the orchestra rehearsal, separate classes are offered in instrumental groups. These classes provide a rare opportunity to learn from outstanding teachers of each instrument and cover such things as repertoire, interpretation, posture and technique.


Classical Guitar: 9.00 - 4.00

Classical guitar classes will cover fundamental and advanced techniques, phrasing, ensemble playing, knowledge of the fingerboard, harmony and sight reading. Intending classical guitar students should be of least Grade 2 AMEB level. This is a great opportunity for classical guitarists to develop new skills and broaden their musicianship. Contact the administrator for more information.


Lunchtime Concerts: 12.00 - 1.00

All students are encouraged to participate in these informal concerts held from Sunday through to Friday as they are a great chance to play in front of a supportive audience. Solos are best to be done in the first few days, as later in the week there is higher demand and most of the programs are made up of ensembles.


Electives - Chamber Music or Scottish Fiddle: 2.00 - 4.00

Chamber Music (for classical players)

Students who choose to participate in chamber music are organised into quartets and other string ensembles wherever possible. They will be assisted in forming groups and selecting repertoire on the Sunday and will be allocated a tutor to work with them. It is important to be aware that it is not possible for every chamber group to have a tutor with them at all times - students are expected to be able to independently apply the insights provided by tutor.

The Friday lunch-time concert will specifically focus on performances by chamber groups who have prepared material during the week.


Scottish Fiddle (for classical players)

The Scottish Fiddle sessions will introduce students to a range of tune styles including strathspey, reel and jig. Students will learn repertoire by ear and explore the harmonic structures and rhythmic undercurrents that drive the tunes. They will learn how to connect tunes into performance sets and will investigate the relationship between the music and dance. 


Saturday 13 January 2018:

  • Sound check at Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre 9.00 am - 12.00 pm
  • Grand Finale Concert 2.00 pm - 4.30 pm
  • End of school 5.00 pm

The staff of the Riverina Summer School for Strings are some of the best musicians and educators in Australia

The tutors for the 2018 school have not yet been finalised, but those from the 2017 school are listed below as an example of  the calibre of the staff that students can work with:

The Sounds of Summer

a series of concerts presented by the staff of the RSSS.


The Sounds of Summer program for 2018 has not been finalised for 2018, but it has the title of Song and Dance. Further details will be updated in October and the program below from 2017 gives an indication of the calibre of the works that are normally presented. 

This January we are celebrating 30 years of Riverina Summer School in style, with three of the five concerts paying tribute to the many people that have made the Summer School so great. On Monday there will be a special performance by Pini, Hazelwood and friends. Wednesday is a tribute to founding director cellist Nelson Cooke in a special cello concert and Friday will conclude the series with one of the greatest chamber works in history in honour of founding organisers Zita Denholm andPat Brassil.

(Attendance at all these concerts is recommended for summer school students and the student entry is included in the enrolment fee.)


Sunday 8 January 2017, 7.30pm, Joyes Hall: Contrasts

G. B. Viotti, Serenade for two violins

 J. S. Bach, Prelude and Fugue BWV 998

Scottish Selection

C. Franck, Sonata A major

A. Bruckner, Adagio from Quintet for Strings

F. Schubert- Fortner, Valses Nobles, op 77


Monday 9 January 2017, 7.30pm, Joyes Hall: Cello Mania for Nelson Cooke

G. Goltermann, Serenade op 119, No 2

L. v. Beethoven, Sonata A major Op 69

A. Glazunov, Theme and Variations Op 97

A. Glazunov, Quintet A major Op 3


Wednesday 11 January 2017, 7.30pm, Joyes Hall: Pini Hazelwood and Friends

B. Martinu, Madrigal

J. Brahms, Piano Quartet in C minor, Op 60

Z. Kodaly, Duo for Violin and Cello, Op 7

W. A. Mozart, Quintet No. 4 in G minor K 51


Thursday 12 January 2017, 7.30pm, Joyes Hall: Scottish Fiddle

Catherine Fraser and Sam Leske began their musical collaboration in 2016, after meeting at a studio session for Catherine's latest release "After the Haar". A  mutual respect of each other's genres led them to begin to explore the possibilities of combining forces, and a new duo was born. Steeped in the Scottish tradition, Catherine brings an energy and depth to both the traditional repertoire and her own compositions. Paired with Sam's innovative and sensitive guitar playing, her music is taken to new horizons, whilst maintaining the integrity and groove inherent to the idiom. 


Friday 13 January 2017, 7 .30pm, Joyes Hall: La Zita Brassilissimo

Traditonal (arr. Ieriko), Samoa Matalasi

P. Houghton, Quintet for Guitar and Strings

F. Mendelssohn. Concerto Piano, Violin, Strings D minor.

F. Schubert, Quartet D minor D 810 (“Death and the Maiden”)

Sounds of Summer Performance January 2015

Sounds of Summer Performance January 2015

 The next RSSS is from Saturday 6 - Saturday 13 January 2018

Enrolments will open in July 2017 and you can secure a place by paying full price or deposit with your enrolment. A receipt will be issued once the enrolment and payment has been received. 
Enrolments will close on Friday 1 December 2017 and full payment is required by then.
For further information please email admin@summerstrings.com.au or ring 0408 114 858

From July 2017, please fill out the following form and submit for an online enrolment.


Street name and number
Parent number if student is under 18
Instrument *
Level *
AMEB or equivalent
Years playing *
Please give a brief description of your orchestral/ensemble background in terms of time and repertoire
Afternoon Elective Preference (for players expecting to be in Sturt or Camerata)
Enrolment for Classical Players (full day)
Note: enrolment is only complete once payment is received
Enrolment for Scottish Fiddlers (full day)
Note: enrolment is only compete once payment is received
Payment method *

1. If paying by direct deposit, please indicate the student name as the reference detail.

    Beyond Bank                                              BSB 805-022

    Riverina Summer School for Strings         Acc No  38717285

2. If paying by credit card, we will send you an email for credit card processing via Paypal

3. If paying by cheque, please make it out to Riverina Summer School for Strings


The Riverina Summer School for Strings is a residential string school that takes place in Wagga Wagga, NSW in the second or third week of January each year. It is a non-profit organisation run by a volunteer committee. It was founded by internationally recognised Australian cellist Nelson Cooke in 1988 in order to provide a fully-immersive string experience for students of all ages and abilities in a regional Australian setting. It regularly attracts some of Australia's best string players to its staff and has been lead by highly regarded performers and teachers such as Christopher Martin and Carl Pini in the role of Music Director. Currently this position is held by Professor Goetz Richter from Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The 30th annual school will be held in January 2017

Riverina Summer School for Strings

PO Box 8335 Kooringal, NSW, 2650


0408 114 858



The Riverina Summer School for Strings thanks the following sponsors for the their generous support