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.