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This will be our final issue of The Podium for 2013.  I hope your year has been as busy and productive as ours!

Regular readers of this newsletter will be aware that we try to make our articles as relevant and interesting as we can. Our 'in-house' writer, Gordon Williams, has outdone himself this time with a fascinating examination of the use of orchestral music in video games, and the subsequent genre of concert presentations that has sprung up around the world. Reaching out to an entirely new type of audience, this music has the potential to be sophisticated and complex – rather like the games they accompany.

Violinist James Cuddeford is also featured as a writer in this edition. We are enormously proud of the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards, a competition that will celebrate its 70th birthday in 2014. This year we introduced some significant changes to the format of the event, and the feedback from contestants, adjudicators, teachers and the public has been overwhelmingly positive. We thought it was timely to chat with a few past finalists and winners who are now involved in a range of musical endeavours both in Australia and overseas. James provides us with food for thought regarding competitions generally, and some interesting musings on the Young Performers Awards in particular.

Our Top Tip this time will be of interest to organisations within Australia, as it examines the amendments to the Privacy Act that will be introduced next year. Having featured each of our Associate orchestras in past newsletters, we are now moving on to introduce readers to our Members – the six Australian symphony orchestras. First up is the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. And you can once again catch up on some news of the world in our Speed Read.

The staff of Symphony Services International joins me in wishing each of you a merry festive season and a happy new year. I look forward to writing to you again in 2014.

Making use of the arsenal – orchestras in video game music

Music journalist Rebecca Armstrong observed back in 2011 that video game music has come a long way from the sort of music you heard in the early days, ‘a series of bleeps accompanying pixilated figures on screen’. You can believe it when you hear the sort of full-blown orchestral score that is excerpted in video games concerts. Read Gordon Williams' article.

A musical kick-start – reflections on YPA and music competitions

The ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards can justly claim to be the highest profile competition for Australian musicians. Having started out in 1944 as an annual, state-based concerto competition for young performers, it boasts a long and rich history and has helped launch the careers of some of Australia’s most outstanding musical talents. James Cuddeford reflects on the significance of the YPA.

Top Tip: Introduction of the Privacy Amendment Act (2012)

From 12 March 2014, the Australian federal government’s Privacy Amendment Act (2012) will start to enforce a series of amendments to the existing Privacy Act. New harmonised privacy principles will be introduced to regulate the collection and use of personal data. The 13 new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) will replace existing principles and include changes to the requirements governing direct marketing as well as cross-border disclosure of personal information.

Orchestras and arts organisations should particularly look at the implications for direct marketing and can find further information on all of the Amendments at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Featured Member: The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was founded as a 17-player radio ensemble in 1936 in South Australia’s Centenary year. Along with its season of core orchestral repertoire, family, new music and commercial concerts, the ASO provides the orchestral support for all productions of the State Opera of South Australia, as well as the Adelaide performances of The Australian Ballet and Opera Australia. The orchestra has also performed at every Adelaide Festival since its inception in 1960. Included in the ASO's long list of achievements are two seasons of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, in 1998 with conductor Jeffrey Tate and the first fully Australian production with conductor Asher Fisch in 2004. Both these seasons brought international acclaim to the ASO.  For more information visit the ASO website.

(Photo Courtesy of ASO Wine Sponsor – Tim Adams. Photographer Jacqui Way)

Speed Read

Some more articles from the world’s papers

Take a look at some interesting news from Variety on the growing audience for film score concerts;

Impressed by the success of Venezuela’s El Sistema, Eric Booth surveys five different Sistemas from around the world;

... and some more musing on the ever intriguing question of how music works on the brain.

And finally…