Category Archives: Concerts

Meet Edward Walton

Edward Walton in rehearsal with the orchestra at Mosman Art Gallery

Rising young star of the violin, Edward Walton will perform at Mosman Art Gallery with the Mosman Symphony Orchestra on June 1st and 2nd. The players are really enjoying rehearsals with this inspiring young man, although some have been heard to wonder what they have been doing with all the time they have spent on this planet!

Aged only 13, Edward has already appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras in Australia and overseas, including the Czech Republic, Italy and the USA.  and he has won many highly prestigious international prizes, competing against older musicians, with a win in London resulting in an invitation to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

At Mosman Art Gallery Edward will perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, a passionate, virtuosic work that is known and loved by audiences all over the world.

We had a chat with Ted about the concerto.

‘For as long as I can remember the Tchaikovsky violin concerto has been one of my favourite pieces. It is such a great masterpiece and has such beautiful melodies, which then contrast with the last movement which has such energy and is thrilling to play!’ said Edward.

Despite the difficulties of the piece, Edward sees it as fun.

‘I just love the piece so much and was so eager to play it that I never really thought about it as being challenging. I do enjoy playing the fast runs – even though they are pretty challenging and keeping the fun and energy in the stroke in the last movement.’

For this concert, Edward has the loan of a very special violin:

I am so excited about the violin I will be playing on for the concert. It is a Gagliano, kindly on short term loan from Beares London for a competition I am in which takes place in July. It has such a lovely sound – I just wish it was mine forever!’

Edward is grateful for the opportunity to play with the Mosman Symphony Orchestra:

‘It is such an amazing opportunity for me to play this piece with orchestra as the orchestra makes it sound so much more exciting. It is how Tchaikovsky envisaged it would be played and it is great how in the 3rd movement for example the orchestra and soloist can bounce off each other’s energy when they pass the melody back and forth. It is also wonderful to play with other people who love and appreciate music as much as I do. So, I am so grateful to Mosman Symphony for this opportunity!’

The future’s looking bright for Edward, with engagements next year to play with orchestras in Italy and the US.

‘I really hope that I can continue to learn and improve my playing and gain more solo experiences with Orchestra.’ He says. ‘In the future I can only dream that one day I can become a professional violinist, own a great instrument and share my music with the world, but I also really hope that I will be in a position to give back something to those who have helped me along the way, like the wonderful orchestras who have given me an opportunity to perform in such a supportive environment.’

Mosman Symphony Orchestra musical director, Andrew Del Riccio says that it is an absolute delight to work with Edward, who approaches the iconic concerto with consummate musicianship and rigour.

‘My first experience of Ted’s playing was hearing his Bruch violin concerto. I was amazed at not only his technical ability and ease of playing, but also his musicality and wonderful sound. While we have spoken about the Tchaikovsky concerto at length only via Skype, it is clear he is a musician of great passion, maturity and with a natural flair for dramatic performance. I am almost jumping up and down in anticipation of our concerts in June 1 and 2. It will be an event not to miss!’

Andrew said that while tickets will be available at the door, recent performances by the orchestra have sold out early, and he advises people to book online through the orchestra’s website.

 

 

By Jupiter!

By Jove, what a wonderful weekend of music we have had! The players really appreciated so many people coming to support he orchestra despite the wild weather. Soloists Bridget Bolliger and Rachel Tolmie inspired us all with their consummate musicianship, and players and audience alike thrilled to Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony with its astonishing, climactic finale.

It was great to have a big crowd to give musical director Andrew Del Riccio his well deserved applause as he celebrated 21 years as the conductor of Mosman Symphony Orchestra. Orchestra President Bridget Wilcken presented Andrew with a crystal trophy and a fine bottle of wine. (For those of you who are wondering what was in the mysterious blue package on Sunday, it was Andrew’s beloved Tim Tams – a little extra present from the orchestra.)

Our move from Friday to Saturday evenings was well supported with a bigger than usual evening audience. Some people commented that they’d taken the chance to dine in nearby restaurants before the concert. Sunday was sold out.

There were 2 comments in our Guest Book –  one from a loyal audience member who has watched the orchestra grow; the other a first timer, for whom we hope the concert will be the first of many:

I have enjoyed the orchestra for 20 years. It continues to be wonderful each performance. Many originals are so passionate about the music, each enjoying their chosen instrument, Mark with viola, all the cellos, oboes, flutes…. Congratulations and well done. Marlene R.

Our first time listening to Mosman Symphony Orchestra – enjoyed it so much. Beautiful music and atmosphere! We’ll be back to listen to more. Thank you. William B.

Kim d’Espiney World Premiere

Many of you will remember that last year Mosman Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere performance of Danza Arabica by Kim d’Espiney, who also plays oboe in the orchestra. That piece was characterised by sorrowful Moorish style melodies contrasting with vibrant energetic dance rhythms and was received with great enthusiasm by both orchestra and audience.

On Sunday June 4 the Bourbaki Ensemble, conducted by David Angel will premiere a new piece by Kim. Con Fuoco, composed for strings, brass and percussion, will be the finale of a concert that also features Rachel Tolmie as cor anglais soloist in Richard Percival’s Sicilienne and Alan Ridout’s Concertino as well as works by Sibelius, Bartok and Vaughan Williams.

The concert will be at 2.45 at St Stephen’s, Newtown.  I’m sure Kim would appreciate some friendly faces in the audience. Could there  be a better way of spending  a sparkling Sunday afternoon than in the company of exciting new music, with the coffee shops of Newtown beckoning for afters?

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.

beagle.jpg

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.

From the Guest Book

guestbook1

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.

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!

World Premiere Performance

Kim d'EspineyMosman Symphony Orchestra’s first concert for 2016 at Mosman Art Gallery was an exciting blend of well-loved orchestral classics with a touch of exotic spice.

As well as Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2, the program featured the world premiere of Danza Arabica by Sydney musician, Kim d’Espiney. Kim has played oboe with the orchestra for several years. She also plays saxophone and clarinet and teaches all three instruments. This is her first composition for orchestra although she has written many arrangements for her students.

Kim says that the main reason she decided to compose Danza Arabica is because she wanted to celebrate Arabic culture.

“Like many people, I abhor the carnage and slaughter that is happening right now, from Iraq and Syria to Palestine, and I feel a tremendous sense of helplessness for all the innocent people caught in the cross-fire. An example that springs to mind is the current global tragedy: where thousands of refugees are being turned away by the rest of the world, as they flee war-torn countries to seek asylum.”

Kim comes from a Portuguese background and she feels that this may well have influenced her musical style:

“The most famous Portuguese folk music is the ‘Fado’ (meaning ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’). It has sorrowful melodies and lyrics with a rich Arabic/Moorish influence. The songs often tell stories about life of the poor or the harshness of the sea, with feelings of passion and intense longing. Having listened to a lot of Fado, I’ve no doubt this has had at least a subconscious influence on my composition.

“The inspiration for this piece was both melodic and rhythmic. The main theme grew from trying out different ideas on my clarinet – I like the smooth, mellow sound of the low register, and thought it might also work well on the bassoon. The rhythmic ideas were influenced by my love of Arabic music, with its vibrant rhythms and interesting textural effects. Once I had the basics, the rest flowed naturally.”

Kim was thrilled to have the opportunity to have her music performed by a symphony orchestra.

“It is an incredible experience: hearing the notes I have written coming to life through the efforts and skills of the players in the orchestra. It is also exciting to think that others may interpret my music in their own way.”

When asked if there were any more pieces in the pipeline, Kim’s response was

“Absolutely… watch this space!”