When reflecting on her time at SMGS, Isidore said, “Going to school at SMGS made it possible to maintain an interest in the arts and a connection with Sydney (often travelling to Sydney and Canberra for art, music and English excursions), whilst the unique location introduced me to extra-curricular activities and different types of people that I would not have had the opportunity to engage with had we stayed in Sydney. The small size of the school and dedicated teaching staff also allowed me to discover that I could excel academically.”
Of Isidore’s time at SMGS, Ms Anne Jones, SMGS HSC English teacher, said, “While some might know of Isidore for her musical prowess, there were so many diverse interests that she pursued and indeed excelled in as one of the early students to complete Years 7 to 12 at SMGS. Isidore’s English major work, “Out of the Woods”, was a literary critique of three transformations of the Red Riding Hood tale, a copy of which is still available at school for students to read. Perhaps an unexpected accolade for Isidore came from the sporting arena, where her petite physique was ideal for her to cox the senior girls’ four in rowing. Her belting voice on the course drove the crew on to winning the championships at Penrith!”.
What path did you follow after you graduated from SMGS? How did you become interested in that pathway (education, career, interest)?
Having taken a year off after completing Year 12 at SMGS, I enrolled at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where I undertook a Bachelor of Music (performance major), and graduated with First Class Honours). I later moved to Stuttgart, Germany, to undertake a Masters of Music (viola performance), before completing an Advanced Studies (orchestral instruments) Certificate at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg. I grew up in an artistic family (I began playing the violin as a three year old) so I can’t remember a time when I was not interested in the arts, although I wasn’t always certain that I would be a professional musician.
What is your current occupation, organisation and position?
A member of the Munich Symphony Orchestra and a private violin/viola teacher.
What is the biggest source of motivation for your career and life pursuits?
My father (the artist Imants Tillers) once told me that being an artist is a vocation, not a career. The arts force us to examine ourselves, the world around us and our place in it. They can be challenging, profound, stimulating, beautiful. I feel motivated to share the power and beauty of music with others. There is a very long tradition of Western Art Music and it is our responsibility as contemporary musicians to ensure that the art form is maintained for future generations. Access to a good musical education is also very important for every child’s development, regardless of whether they want to become a musician. That’s why I’ve chosen to continue to teach violin and viola alongside my orchestral commitments. I’ve also recently become a mother and this has made me look again at my goals and life pursuits. It’s certainly reinforced the importance of music education, and I’m intending to focus more on teaching and chamber music projects once I return from leave.
How did your time at SMGS help you in your journey to your current career and life pursuits?
Our family moved from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains just before I began high school. Going to school at SMGS made it possible to maintain an interest in the arts and connection with Sydney (often travelling to Sydney and Canberra for art, music and English excursions), whilst the unique location introduced me to extra-curricular activities and different types of people that I would not have had the opportunity to engage with had we stayed in Sydney. The small size of the school and dedicated teaching staff also allowed me to discover that I could excel academically.
What are some of your most memorable moments from your time at SMGS?
Being part of the rowing team that won the Head of the River (girls’ open coxed quad) in 2001 was pretty exciting. I loved training on the lake in the mornings and the camaraderie between us teammates. Travelling to Sydney and beating teams from other schools with far more established and lavishly funded rowing programs was a great surprise. They were all wondering who these upstarts from the bush were. Another memorable moment was going white-water canoeing on our final end-of-year camp. I was petrified and we almost froze, but the sense of accomplishment was huge. I also made some lifelong friends at SMGS.
What programs did you participate in and what co-curricular opportunities did you have?
I was heavily involved in the music and arts programs, as well as being on debating, rowing and cross-country ski teams.
What advice would you give to students who are beginning their HSC journey and starting to think about their future after they graduate?
Completing Year 12 and choosing a career path can seem overwhelming. Trust yourself and your instincts. Try to choose a range of subjects that you are interested in and that you’re good at. Most people will change career paths at some point over their lifetime, so try not to panic about needing to have a fixed career in mind. Stay focused, ask for help if you need it and enjoy the journey!
What does it mean to you to be a part of the SMGS Alumni/Old Scholars community?
I am proud to be part of such a diverse range of graduates. People are always amazed that such a small (and in those days young) school could produce students who excel across such a diverse range of fields.