The Zelman orchestra sprawled across the main hall of the 1882 Daylesford Town Hall. The Daylesford music lovers filled every other available space in the hall. Fortunately there was a large balcony area which gave an excellent view of the orchestra, almost in the round.
The solid stone and huge ceilings provided a rich reverb for the lush romantic music that was being presented. The Victorian detail of the hall provided a lovely visual backdrop to the almost balletic conducting of Mark Shiell, who nurtures this excellent orchestra with great empathy. I was fortunate to sit in on a few rehearsals with the orchestra and delighted in the detailed yet caring way Mark worked with the orchestra to achieve a fine level of detail.
Kathryn Taylor, whose day job is with the MSO, gave a spirited and lush performance of the Mendelssohn violin concerto, with excellent support from the orchestra. We are very glad to have captured that performance, as it was received with great excitement from the audience, who then delighted in the encore of meditation from Thais (Massenet). Both performances were excellent, but possibly she was more relaxed in the country ambience of Daylesford. Its always a plus for an orchestra to play major works a few times in front of an audience.
Beethoven's seventh symphony made up the second half of the concert. The orchestra approached this with huge energy and intensity. By the end Mark Shiell was physically spent, and from reports from the orchestra it was a "big blow". Apparently all repeats were included. But the impact of such a work in the intimate atmospheres of the town halls proves why live music is such a great experience. You feel the music, you are surrounded by the music, you are drawn into its darkest depths in a way that you can't be when you put it on in the background while doing the housework. To really appreciate classical music, you need to apply great focus to the task. It is an inward journey that requires time and space, and one that is now much overlooked in our social media fuelled lives.
At Hofland music we were especially proud of the quality of the recording that we achieved. We caught the warm tones and the raw energy of the concert perfectly. We continue to strive to improve for every recording. It's all to do with the right microphone selection for the right instrument section, placement within the orchestra space to allow close capture yet a fully developed tone, the mixing on the board and getting our master CD just right with the entries. The instant live CD is really knife edge stuff for the Sound engineer, as you can't go back to remix anything.
At Hawthorn arts centre we unveiled some of our production process to audience, by doing the CD duplication at our sales table. This proved quite fascinating to the audience and helps them to understand that we can achieve an (almost) "instant" CD.
The delight of the Hawthorn and Daylesford audiences proved again why bringing serious music to the public continues to be such a worthwhile endeavour. And the superb playing of Kathryn Taylor proved that Australia is blessed with truly fine musicians, and that a national orchestra like the MSO is so vital in making sure we have access to such treasure.
On Saturday night (April 30 2016) the the Heidelberg wind ensemble began their 10th season of concerts. As is customary they were joined the Monash philharmonic orchestra and the Monash symphonic winds at St Stephen's Church in Richmond. This beautiful church created a warm atmosphere on even warmer late autumn evening. The reverb in the church provides an exciting acoustic for listening to major works. The audience felt like is amongst the musicians. When things got exciting in the percussion section the whole church trembled in response. Soloists notes soared amongst the rafters and when the brass sang as one spirits lifted with the joyful sound.
The Monash Philharmonic presented the William Tell Overture as well as Rimsky Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture. The cello was featured as it should, and the orchestra even had a cor anglais to play the famous interlude. The Monash Winds also presented a varied program that began with West Side Story, wandered along a Scottish river with a Grainger setting of Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon, finishing somewhere in the halls of Mordor with excerpts from Lord of the Rings by de Meij, who is a prolific composer for Wind Band.
It was also an exciting night for Hofland Music as conductor Stephen Carpenter announced to the audience the project to create a tenth anniversary CD which will be available towards the end of the anniversary year. Hofland Music will be recording at least two concerts this year as well as a special studio session with the band in order to create a compilation of this year's best works.
HWE played a challenging program of monster works.
The Bourgeois Symphony of Winds with three movements titled Hurricane, Zephyr, and March Winds contained all the chaotic fury expected from such a program. The movement Hurricane manages to work its way through 8 different time signatures constantly changing to resemble the chaos of a hurricane. A short middle sections presents the calm of the eye.
Stravinsky can always be relied upon to write music that moves between beautiful melody, strong rhythms passages of repetition, interesting orchestral effects and unexpected mood changes. In the Petroushka Ballet suite, the music is of course foremost intended for dancing, and the pulse remains strong through all the movements. This work was created for the Ballet Russe, and Nijinsky played Petroushka.
To lighten the mood the HWE played Four Preludes for Band by Robert Russell Bennett entitled George, Vincent, Cole and Jerome, referring to those great composers of Broadway. Bennett orchestrated over 300 Broadway musicals. Although original, the work evokes the spirit of the composers being paid tribute.
Finally the HWE played a full symphonic work composed for Wind Band by Vittorio Giannini, Symphony No 3. This is a work without discernible program, but is true to the Symphony in form and structure, with wonderful melodies, and energetic rhythms.
I wonder which of the pieces will end up on the final CD?