Orchestra tour part of strong legacy

Liam Croy
Ben Adler, Liz Woolnough, Haylie Ecker, Bethan Lillicrap, and Bridget O'Donnell. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

From Penrhos College to the pyramids of Giza, Perth musician Haylie Ecker has seen the world through the bow of a violin.

The Australian Youth Orchestra alumni sold four million albums as a founding member of crossover electric string quartet Bond.

Those genre-busting albums went platinum in almost 50 countries, making Bond the best-selling string quartet to date.

The all-female group made its debut at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2000, collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti in 2001 and played in front of two million people in Berlin to usher in 2002.

Mrs Ecker, 39, eventually left Bond in 2008 when she was pregnant with her first child.

If the musicians in the current AYO String Quartet wanted to aim high, they could find no taller target than the musical mother of two.

The AYO quartet, comprising Ben Adler, Bridget O'Donnell, Bethan Lillicrap and Elizabeth Woolnough, play in Bunbury tonight and will perform in Margaret River, Busselton, Dunsborough and Mandurah.

Their WA tour finishes at the State Theatre next Saturday.

They will also teach and perform at local schools as part of the youth orchestra's Regional Residencies program.

Their repertoire is far more traditional than Bond's, but classical music was Mrs Ecker's first love.

"If anyone thinks classical music is inaccessible, all they have to do is go to the movies," she said.

"Classical music, especially without lyrics, speaks straight to the core.

"In today's bite-sized world, you can sit and listen to classical music and it almost takes you to a different place."

Mrs Ecker said travelling with the youth orchestra in the early 1990s had a huge impact on her career and life.

"It was integral in giving me my streak of independence," she said. "I was only with the AYO for two years but they were life-defining."

For concert details, visit www.ayo.com.au