I have spent the last two weeks running auditions for the Talent Development Project. The Project identifies highly skilled, gifted and talented singers, singer/songwriters and musicians aged between sixteen and eighteen, from NSW Government high schools. I refer to them as elite talent. From more than one hundred and fifty auditions, we invite around seventy to begin a journey that ends twelve months later with around ten being let loose on the profession.
An audition is a problematic event. I have been on both sides of an audition panel. Under pressure to get a job or pressure to get the right person for a job.
In this case the event requires our creative team to identify and collect highly talented young artists whose sole (and soul) aim is to have a career in the music entertainment industry.
It is a daunting and confronting task because of the legacy of extraordinary success achieved by those in the past who have been through the Talent Development Project. Since its inception in 1992 there has been close to an 80% success rate. By success I mean an ongoing and significant livelihood from music.
A lot of dreams have been fulfilled with the help of The Talent Development Project. Hence the daunting task and the struggle from the outset with the notion of talent.
Many have skills. Skills that these young artists have instinctively developed or consciously developed with the help of the usual suspects -parents, teachers, peers and less often but astoundingly, themselves alone. Some have a wide ranging ability, others have beauty, a few have “a thing”. But this is not what I mean by talent. Skill can mask the talentless.
Talent when viewed by the talented arouses potential. We say, “we can develop that” and we get excited by the prospect of creatively inspiring, guiding, moulding or just getting out of the way. Raw talent is one of the most exciting things in the world. There is always the question hovering in our mind of, “Who knows”? “Who knows where this talent is heading but wow it’s heading somewhere”! And we’ll do anything to be part of it.
It’s like panning for gold. You can so easily miss that tiny nugget of shining talent amongst the twinkling skills. The difference is that talent is mysteriously compelling, it is natural and authentic and it is consciously present. That is what we look for and long for. That is the true triple threat. Compelling, authentic and present.
At the Project, we move the sand around over time, until the nugget eventually finds its way to the surface. It can take months to confirm the veracity of an audition decision or the mistake of an over optimistic one.
The students, the schools and the profession are fortunate that TDP has this time to get it right. Thanks to the support of the NSW Department of Education and Clubs NSW (a brilliant combination), the Project is able to deliver an ongoing annual cavalcade of determined, resilient, highly motivated creative artists ready to earn a living and share their talent with the world. Onwards.
Peter Cousens - Artistic Director- Talent Development Project.