Herald On Sunday Review

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by  Barney McDonald

 

This wonderful Australian documentary is named after Mrs Carey for a reason. She's an incredible human being who believes in the power of music so much it pours from her eyes, her brow and her soul. But Bob Connolly and  Sophie Raymond's film isn't just about the  music director of a Sydney girls' school. It focuses on developing young musicians to take the stage in the most spectacular arena in Australia, the Sydney Opera House. It's also about the teenaged girls who aspire to be on that stage , whether they are ready or not. Some are perfectly posied; others resent the pressure placed on them by parents, teachers, friends. 

This film isn't Fame, although the kids exude  so much raw talent even some of the teachers are gobsmacked. Instead it's an energetically crafted journey that leads the audience through the daunting months  of the young girls' many challenges as musicians. 

Although the film unfolds like a written script at times, with a couple of key conflicts building tension - the way Stephen Walker's Young@Heart  struck some tantalising chords - the documentary never strays far from sheer wonder. The filmmakers are as much in awe of the girls' talents as they are of the teachers, allowing both to blossom before the camera.

The climax is a foregone conclusion , yet we find ourselves elated by the aspirations and hopes of the students and teachers. Sadly, no triangle solo, yet the soundtrack captures the brilliance of the musicians. And the final credits give the recorder its hallowed place in the  pantheon of childhood glee.