Tag Archives: Mosman Symphony Orchestra

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.

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

Only 10 More Sleeps…

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There’s only 10 more sleeps to go before our first concert of the year, and we’re very excited to announce the addition of a touch of exotic spice to our program. The orchestra will be performing the world premiere of our very own Kim d’Espiney’s Danza Arabica.

Kim says that her work reflects her love of Arabic music with its vibrant rhythms and interesting textural effects:

“The main reason I decided to compose ‘Danza Arabica’ is because I 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.”

There are currently only 14 seats available for Sunday afternoon, but there are still good seats for Friday.

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Romantic Pastorale

Single tickets are now on sale for our first concert of the year, and what a concert it promises to be!

As part of our ongoing Beethoven series, we’ll be performing his evocative 6th Symphony – the Pastoral.

How happy I am to be able to walk among the shrubs, the trees, the woods, the grass and the rocks! For the woods, the trees and the rocks give man the resonance he needs.Beethoven: letter to Therese Malfatti

Beethoven had a deep love of nature and he poured that love into a wonderful evocation of landscape. The 6th Symphony, with its depiction of nature in its various guises, from a gentle creek to a tumultuous storm, is one of Beethoven’s best loved. I can’t tell you much the orchestra is enjoying rehearsals!

We’re also thrilled to welcome back audience favourite Gregory Kinda who will play the rapturously lovely Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2. You can’t help but swoon to the lush harmonies and heart-stoppingly lovely melodies of this most romantic of works.

Book online to choose your seat.

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Community Orchestras

A community orchestra like Mosman Symphony Orchestra in Sydney is a wonderful way to meet like minded people who love to play and to listen to orchestral music. Whether you’re an adult learner, retired professional musician or up and coming young professional, community orchestras provide a supportive, non threatening environment to hone your skills.

Concerts in November

November will be a very busy month for the orchestra. We’ll be playing at Mosman Art Gallery on November 23rd and 25th in the last of our regular concerts for the year. For those concerts we’re very fortunate to be joined by 2 outstanding Australian musicians, Ron Thomas and Georg Pedersen, who will be performing Brahms’ masterful Double Concerto for violin and cello.

We’re also very excitied to be performing a free outdoor concert as part of Mosman Council’s Out and About series. We’ll be at Balmoral Rotunda and Reserve on Friday evening, November 9th. Don’t forget your rug and picnic dinner (and of course the champagne!)