My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
The Australian Voices and QSO are Simply Sublime
A QSO Player's Eye View from the Concert Hall Stage
There's something so beautiful about sitting back in the QPAC Concert Hall and allowing the pitch-perfect sounds of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) transport you. As you wallow in an almost dreamlike state, you can imagine oceans, Hitchcock movies, angels and a furious summer storm.
It's those kinds of surreal imaginings that were evoked by the QSO's latest concert, Fauré Requiem. The show boasted some of the finest talents in classical music under the baton of energetic Conductor Stefan Parkman and under Direction of the sublimely skilled Gordon Hamilton.
Soprano Morgan England-Jones and Baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes along with The Australian Voices all shone beautifully, as did the Orchestra, who seemed thrilled with the response they were getting from the enthusiastic audience. There didn't appear to be an empty seat in the house and the applause after each piece reflected a deep appreciation for the talents before us.
Baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes was just one of the amazing voices on stage
The evening's program began with Stravinsky's Funeral Song, Op.5. What many people wouldn't know is this piece was lost for over a hundred years and only rediscovered in 2015. It's only been performed a handful of times, even though it was written in 1908. The composition is a memorial tribute to the death of Stravinsky's teacher, Romantic composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Funeral Song, Op.5. shares some similarities to another of Stravinsky's works, The Firebird. I loved how this piece began with almost whisper quiet bass that was joined by bassoon (a trait you'll find in the aforementioned work). French horns and trumpets serve to brighten the piece, all the while the deep murmuring persists to unnerve you. The strings bring out the drama and thrills, pulling at your heartstrings. The funny thing is, to my ears, this piece was more evocative of the ocean and the fluidity of waves than the one that followed - Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op.33a.
These four interludes are lifted from a full, large-scale opera entitled Peter Grimes. This work by the post-war composer Britten, is actually inspired by a story in which a Peter Grimes, a fisherman, is accused by the townsfolk of murdering his apprentices. That's possibly why, to me, it sounded less like a roiling sea and more like a what soundtrack for a Hitchcock movie would be if it were penned by Gershwin.
There's a sort of surging, pulsating feeling through some of the work. Lots of runs give it that Gershwin-y feeling. It was simultaneously unnerving and captivating to hear. QSO did a beautiful job of course; in particular, I enjoyed the work of the timpani and wind instruments in these interludes.
The sounds of the QSO and The Australian Voices are supported by a great venue in QPAC's Concert Hall
My favourite piece of the evening was the modern work by Whitacre, Cloudburst. The first section of the composition is a heavenly a cappella with pieces spoken over the top of tonal clusters and long-held notes. Then these twinkly hand-bells were rung and there was a massive thunder sheet explosion. What followed was pure magic, as the choir snapped, clapped and slapped a storm into existence. Wind chimes, piano and suspended cymbal all enhanced the sound of desert rain. As the storm died, the end of the work mirrored the beginning. To paraphrase one of my favourite jokes, I have three words for you: fab-u-lous.
If you were even in doubt of the skills of The Australian Voices, their work in Fauré's Requiem, Op.48. would have changed all that. While the work of the orchestra was excellent, you couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the sound of the voices. Their gorgeous singing might have brought a tear to some eyes in the room but if anyone says it was me crying I'll say it was your mum who was crying. That'll show you.
In all seriousness, the performance was deeply touching and world-class. I can highly recommend a visit to one of QSO's concerts, especially if you've never been before. It's a treat for the ears.