Choral Music in Sydney’s North

Our fledgling choir, Mosman Symphony Chorus, is up and running, with rehearsals already beginning for our June concert when they will join the orchestra for a performance of Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G. By all accounts the small, but very enthusiastic group is having a ball at Monday night rehearsals, with the joy of singing being augmented by the bliss of Rufina’s baking at supper. They would warmly welcome new members of all voice types.

In the meantime our friends at Manly Warringah Choir will be performing Brahms’ German Requiem at the Cardinal Cerruti Chapel in Manly on Saturday May 6th at 7.30pm. This will be their last performance in Australia before heading to Carnegie Hall to perform the same work with choirs from all over the world at the invitation of Distinguished Choirs International New York, DCINY.

The Manly concert will be conducted by the wonderful Carlos Alvarado, who  conducted our Movies concert last year. There will be 2 outstanding soloists in Anita Kyle and David Greco. It would be great if we could support our fellow musicians by attending what promises to be an inspiring performance.

Bookings: www.manlywarringahchoir.org.au  or phone 9953 2443  or  0432 656 798

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The Mystery of the Missing Guest Book

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What a wonderful concert series we’ve just had! From the stirring brass in Wagner’s Tannhäuser to the golden honeyed sound of trumpet virtuoso, John Foster, finishing with magnificent playing from the whole orchestra in Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Our audience was full of praise and appreciation. Sadly our guest book went missing over the weekend. We’re hoping that it will find its way back to the Art Gallery, but in the meantime we’ve received this by email:

TRUMPETS WILL SOUND
Friday, 17th March 2017

The Mosman Symphony Orchestra drew a full audience to the Art Gallery last Friday evening with a program that was certain to thrill.

The ever-popular “Tannhäuser Overture” composed by Richard Wagner in 1845 proved a treat, as the orchestra captured the complex nuances of this beautiful piece that attracted so much controversy around its premier performances.

John Foster must be proud of his playing, as I was spell-bound. The Rococo “Trumpet Concerto in E-flat” by Johann Baptist Georg Neruda embraces the finest silk-like brass textures, and I wallowed in the seductive interpretation.

The Beethoven 7th Symphony brought the orchestra to life, and the audience to its feet after raising us to the heights of musical colour – so prevalant in this devilish composer. Once again controversy reigns with this work – but so what! It’s a masterpiece unfolding meaning and beauty into our vibrant world of fine Art-Music.

Well done MoSO. See you at the next concert.

Edward.

John Foster Trumpet Virtuoso

With just one more sleep till our first concert of the year, audiences at the Mosman Art Gallery should prepare to be blown away by Baroque trumpet virtuoso, John Foster who will be our soloist, performing the Neruda Trumpet Concerto.

John is one of the world’s foremost exponents of the natural trumpet. He has toured all over the world performing as soloist with leading orchestras in Europe and America. He has made several solo recordings, published 2 books, and is also much sought after as a teacher. He is the director of the Australasian Trumpet Academy, which draws artists from across the world to Australia.

John’s passion for his instrument has led him to amass a collection of over 100 trumpets from many different periods of history. There is a dedicated room in his house where he displays most of the collection in glass cases, but John says the collection has a tendency to spread all through the house.

We regularly have visitors from all over the world who come to see the trumpets’, says John, ‘much to my wife’s chagrin.’

The collection is not just for show. ‘It’s a working collection’, says John. ‘I play them all. It’s good to know that whatever the repertoire, whether it’s classical, jazz, swing, I can pick up an instrument totally appropriate to the period.’

John even has a trumpet that is named after him. He worked in collaboration with Barlow & Martin Natural Trumpets in Norwich, England, to develop the Foster Model Natural Trumpet.

When asked if he has a favourite instrument, John says ‘that’s too hard. It’s like asking if you have a favourite child.’ He goes on to say that there is a couple of Baroque trumpets of which he is particularly fond. John’s collection has been featured on the ABC television series, The Collectors and also on Channel 7’s The Morning Show.

In his Mosman concert John will be playing a modern trumpet, as Mosman Symphony Orchestra plays on modern instruments.

‘The concerto is a stunning example of late Baroque virtuosity’, says the orchestra’s musical director Andrew Del Riccio, ‘with some very innovative features for the time. What makes it even more amazing is the fact that it was written for the hunting horn. It’s a very difficult work for the modern trumpet, and only virtuosi are game to try it on.’

The concert also features music by Wagner and Beethoven’s much loved 7th Symphony.

Del Riccio advises booking online through the orchestra’s website to avoid disappointment. ‘Many of our recent concerts have sold out and this one promises to be very popular.’

The Apotheosis of the Dance

La Danse

Beethoven’s glorious 7th Symphony has been described in many ways, but it is interesting to note how often the descriptions touch on dance & celebration.

Robert Schumann likened it to a peasant wedding. His bête-noire, the critic Ludwig Bischoff, agreed with him saying somewhat more verbosely that it

‘conjures up pictures of the autumnal merry-makings of the gleaners and wine-dressers, the tender melancholy of love-lorn youth, the pious canticle of joy and gratitude for nature’s gifts and the final outburst when joy beckons again and the dance melodies float out upon the air and none stands idle.’

Richard Wagner enthused that it was

‘all tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect.’

Sir Thomas Beecham, on the other hand was not as high faluting, nor as complimentary: ‘What can you do with it? It’s like a lot of yaks jumping about.’

It was certainly a favourite of Beethoven himself, who regarded it as one of his finest works. He must have felt an added affection for it as the enthusiastic reception of its first performance, with demands for repeat performances, rescued him from serious debt. The piece has continued to delight and inspire players and audiences ever since.

Yet for all the symphony’s joyous energy, it is the hauntingly beautiful 2nd movement Allegretto that has been the most loved. Encored at the premiere, it was often performed as a stand alone piece in concerts & sometimes substituted for the slow movement in performances of Beethoven’s earlier symphonies. This is no bacchanalian revel, but the sense of movement and dance is still present in its measured, pulsing rhythm.

The movement has been used in popular culture both to convey and to elicit strong emotion. In this heartbreaking scene from  Mr Holland’s Opus the high school music teacher drops the needle onto the record player to play the 2nd movement as he tells his students about the circumstances of the composition of the 7th Symphony as Beethoven confronted his growing deafness.

Just try to imagine Beethoven, standing on that podium, holding his baton, his hands waving gracefully through the air, and the orchestra in his mind is playing perfectly; the orchestra in front of him trying desperately just to keep up.

A student asks ‘if Beethoven couldn’t hear, how would he even know what the notes were. If he never heard a C how would he know that’s what he wanted played?’

‘Well… Beethoven wasn’t born deaf’. Mr Holland answers.

Holland’s son was born deaf and will never share his father’s love of music.

In The King’s Speech, the same music provides a moving counterpoint to the climactic scene when King George VI, ‘conducted’ by  his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, overcomes his debilitating stutter to make the fateful radio broadcast to the British Empire declaring war on Germany.

The relentless forward movement of the allegretto and its measured slow build, reflects not only his personal determination and growing confidence, but the strength & resolution that he is asking of his audience.

On a less elevated note, Beethoven’s 7th also features prominently in that classic movie, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. In the excerpt below, Sally’s disappointment with Linus at the apparent non appearance of the Easter Beagle (‘never trust a man with a blanket‘), and Charlie Brown’s usual lamentation over his lack of friends is accompanied by a melancholy piano rendition of the 2nd movement before the joyful 3rd movement ushers in the appearance of a dancing Snoopy as the Easter Beagle.

Funnily enough, the same movie features Snoopy dancing with some Easter bunnies in a scene strangely reminiscent of the Matisse painting, La Danse,  which we have chosen to illustrate our concert, the Apotheosis of the Dance.

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We do hope you will join us this coming weekend to share some wonderful music, and stay after the concert to chat with the players. I can’t promise Bacchanalian revels, but there will be complimentary champagne and nibblies.

Christmas Music

There are some lovely concerts of  Christmas music coming up at the Cardinal Cerretti Chapel in Manly.

On Dec 2nd at 7.30 Music at Manly is presenting a fun-filled concert and a sing-a-long, to start your festive season. There will be brass and solo vocals, culminating with the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah. For more details click here.

Dec 3rd & 4th sees the Manly Warringah Choir with orchestra & soloists performing Karl Jenkins’ Stella Natalis and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, as well as carols for choir & audience. The conductor will be Carlos Alvarado, who conducted our recent Movies concert to great acclaim. For more details click here.

 

From the Guest Book

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Here’s what some people had to say after our Northern Lights concert last night:

‘What an absolute gem we have on our doorstep! Thank you for a stupendous evening.’ Bettina

‘Loved the concert as usual. Bach was an absolute treat. Can’t wait till next one.’ Jan

And from Sunday:

‘Fantastic – Tears flowed. Thank you.’ Ruth

‘I have enjoyed the 2016 Season, looking forward to next year. Great performances.’ Anne

And this was sent to us from Edward who attended the concert on Nov 11, Remembrance Day:

VISIONARY

In the dark of remembrance I rested, mesmorised by the complex “Concerto for Two Violins in D-minor” – a divine concertante: and blossoming from the Mosman Symphony, it delivered my mortality to the sweetest glimpse of infinite Grace.

Three cheers for all those sonorious gems that have ever poured from your vat of loveliness, Richard Wagner: your vintage continues to intoxicate classical culture-vultures everywhere. “Siegfried Idyll” was a very satisfying selection from the orchestra’s music cellar, and we quaffed on that rare beaujolaise enough to quench a sailor’s thirst. Pour me another damn it – and another! “Sorte’ Sobriete”! And why not? It caused the earth to move for me, and apparently did wonders for the enraptured juices of Cosimo, until Richard flogged-off this beloved gift to her, presented with some ritual and ceremony, to all and sundry; and that’s men for you!

Was it a mere rush of blood to the head on sighting the panorama of a new century, that sparked pleasant and optimistic harmonies in the first movement of Jean Sibelius’ second symphony? – I think not! They’re a mask for what was to come – and it wasn’t pretty! – MoSO you nailed it! This great work is no walk-in-the-park, and should not be misunderstood or underestimated: its calibre is on par with Beethoven, however, the similarity ends there. Beethoven was on the whole a reactionary for his time, Sibelius channelled the future with dark tones, warning of the disaster that was to unfold onto a humanity flawed with the deadly emotions of pride and greed – “Art” with a capital ‘A’! His carefully considered timings, intricately designed-rhythms and sumptuous harmonies? – Well, we can surmise their veiled or implied meanings, and argue the toss infinitum – but we’re bound to enjoy the ride, as we did! By the way, it was the best interpretation I’ve heard.

Reflect at this time.

Lest we forget

PS: Looking forward to more of your great performances.

A Night of Magic

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Apart from wonderful classical music in a lovely venue, one of the  really great things about Mosman Symphony Orchestra concerts is the champagne and nibblies afterwards, when the players get to relax and chat to the audience. When people talk about music that has stirred them they are often very eloquent – sometimes poetic.

We thought it was about time that we had a permanent record of some of the lovely things that people say to us after our performances, so we now have a Guest Book.

 

Here are some of the first comments after the Friday night performance of Mosman Symphony Orchestra goes to the movies:

‘A wonderful night of magic music. Thank you so much!’

‘I was absolutely enthralled by the guest conductor and loved the choice of music, a wonderful night!’

If you’re coming to our Sunday performance, we’d love you to share your thoughts in the guest book. There are still some seats available, but you’ll need to be quick!

And from Sunday…

‘Wonderful. Thank you to the conductor for “bringing in the audience”. Fabulous selection of music and professional and talented musicians.’

‘Yet another wonderful performance. Congratulations. Looking forward to the next event’

‘Can’t wait for the next concert! Fabulous!’

‘It was a fabulous concert, my first time at a concert of the Mosman Symphony, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. My spirits needed lifting, and Mosman Symphony Orchestra most certainly did that! The music choices were perfect, the order of play was so well organised and the acoustics were fabulous!

I would really appreciate being placed on the mailing list and am really looking forward to attending the next concert and into the future.

My thanks to you and, to the entire orchestra.’

This last piece is not in our Guest Book, but was emailed to me. Thank you to Edward for taking the trouble to write such a lovely review:

Spring has Sprung

Spring arrived when the flowers bloomed last week, and as the charming conductor, Carlos Alvarado took to the rostrum, raising his baton elegantly to lead our sublime Mosman Symphony Orchestra through a selection of music from cinematic history.

Composers Johann Strauss and Edward Elgar to “Harry Potter’s” themes of haunting mysticism were on the program, and the orchestra confidently performed for an appreciative audience that yearned for more.

A memorable arrangement from the movie, “Schindler’s List” elevated my mind to a space where only tolerance and peace prevail. Anny Bing Xia achieved a seamless, sweet hypnotic interpretation in that violin performance, and blew me away. Anny, you’re a “Musician’s Musician” – play on!

“Jaffas” were not rolled down the aisles, and precedents can’t be tolerated I’m sure – however, it wouldn’t have taken much for exemptions to be brought forth as the exhilaration of “Radetzky’s March” raised the house, and closed a fabulous evening of block-buster music.

See you at the next concert.

Edward

Gliding Maidens, Leaping Lads & Wild Men

The exotic, exciting Polovtsian Dances form the best known scene in Borodin’s opera, Prince Igor. In this scene, the Russian Prince Igor has been taken prisoner by the Polovtsian chief, Khan Konchak. When the Khan sees his noble prisoner is feeling miserable, he orders his slaves to cheer him up with a performance. There are 3 main themes to the dances, which appear in various combinations:

Gliding Dance of the Maidens
The Dance of the Boys
Wild Dance of the Men

The entertainment begins with the Gliding Dance of the Maidens & tender memories of their homeland:

Fly away on the wings of the wind.
Fly away, our native song, to our homeland.
To where we sang you in liberty,
where you and we were so free.

There under the sultry sky
the air is full of bliss.
There to the murmuring of the sea
the mountains half slumber in the clouds.

With the entry of the Men and their Wild Dance, things start to heat up and the timpani ushers in unstinting praise for the Khan:

Sing songs of glory to the Khan! Sing!
Glorify the might, the honour of the Khan! Praise him!
Glorious is Khan! Khan!
Glorious is he, our Khan!
In the gleaming of his glory
Khan is like the sun.
There are none equal in glory to Khan! None!
Khan’s slave girls praise Khan!

Khan is clearly pleased with this and offers Prince Igor the choice of any of his slaves:

Do you see the captive girls from a distant sea?
Do you see my beauties from beyond the Caspian
O say it, friend, say just a word to me
If you want, I’ll give you any one of them!

Then with whistles and whip cracking on come the leaping lads and more praise for the Khan:

Our Khan, Khan Konehak, is equal in glory to his forefathers!
The grim Khan Konehak is equal in glory to his forefathers!
Glory, glory to Khan Konchak!
Khan Konehak!
With your dancing entertain the Khan!
Dance to entertain the Khan, slaves!
Your Khan!
With your dancing entertain the Khan!
Entertain with dancing!
Our Khan Konchak!

It’s hard to believe that even  Prince Igor would not be thrilled by the rousing performance, but he decides that enough is enough and he takes advantage of loose Polovtsian security and escapes. He returns home in triumph ready to unite his people & defend his homeland.

 

 

From an audience member

It was 1979: how far back is that? – Of course, it depends on who one asks. When I’m conversing with the young I’m bound to see – and feel the numerous time posts that created my world back to then. I cop it with both barrels through youthful cynicism. But youth is wasted on the young? – Or so they say!

Where did the time go? But then again, “A lot of water has flowed under the bridge” – so they say!

Boeing 747s were the way to travel back then; and as a 25 year old they were to marval at. They’re still flying, and so are many more wonderful aircraft that take to the air.

The amazing thing about those time posts that mark important occasions in our lives is that they can be triggered by music.

The Mosman Symphony Orchestra did exactly that for me as it performed Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony last Friday night in the Mosman Art Gallery.

We can’t mistake the earthy strengths of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, blending with the fun of the instrumental dynamics and haunting clouds of sadness.

Congratulations Andrew! It certainly did it for me.

My five months in Russia in the 1970s was but a memory. You and your beautiful orchestra brought some of that magical time back again for me.

Picnics, cray fishing and Neptune-plays while cruising the Volga River, the mysterious lights of St Petersburgh, Volgagrad and the immovable characteristics of Moscow.

Thank you again!
Edward
May 21st, 2016

That Horn Tune

One of the most wonderful and best loved moments of Tchaikovksy’s 5th Symphony, which the orchestra will play on May 20 & 22, is the noble horn tune from the 2nd movement:

horn melody

It is one of the greatest horn solos in the orchestral repertoire and has inspired a great many adaptations and imitations since it was first composed in 1888. Frank Sinatra performed his version, Moon Love, with the Harry James Orchestra in 1939.

The opening of John Denver’s Annie’s Song follows the same progression and rhythm:

Less obvious is the aria Vesti la giubba, from Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera, Pagliacci. The same melody, but a different rhythm creates a very different effect:

Vestir

That dramatic piece was used by the advertisers of Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles to depict the tragedy of running out of their product. Here’s the American (Rice Crispies) version:

For the advertisers of Winfield cigarettes in the 70’s, Tchaikovsky’s music was the epitome of classys sophistication, with ‘Boris and the band’ setting the scene for a tuxedo clad Paul Hogan to extoll the virtues of the cigarettes with ‘a bit of polish – a touch of class’. Let her rip, Boris!

Classical music in the heart of Mosman

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