I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
East meets West musical celebration
This past Sunday, QPAC featured the first performance from of the Southern Cross Soloists 2019 Concert Season. Lunar New Year: Memories from Childhood was a joyous celebration to begin the Year of the Pig. The program successfully merged ancient Chinese folk songs and instruments with animal-inspired Western classical music.
Southern Cross Soloist (Photo: Aaron Tait)
Southern Cross Soloists, is a Brisbane based chamber music ensemble who deliver extraordinarily complex and innovative performances. The talent within the core group of instrumentalists is outstanding. Tania Frazer is the Artistic Director and plays Oboe; at each concert, I am intrigued to hear how she is inspired by the world around her to develop programs that embrace and highlight topical issues and concepts. The other regulars, Ashley Smith on Clarinet, Alan Smith on violin, Alex Raineri on Piano and Lina Andonovska on flute are not only masters of their craft but an absolute joy to watch. With each recital you catch glimpses of their personalities and lives; a connection with the audience that enhances these truly intimate performances.
Lina Andonovska (Stephen Henry Photography)
Southern Cross Soloists concerts always remain fresh and exciting by including guest performers. The Lunar New Year: Memories from Childhood concert included guest artists Blair Harris (Cello) and Alex Miller (French Horn) and featured cello virtuoso Li-Wei Qin, piano soloist Kristian Chong, and international erhu superstar George Gao, one of the most exciting, innovative and respected erhu masters of our time.
George Gao (Stephen Henry Photography)
When Li-Wei Qin shared that he loved Lunar New Year because the first day of the New Year and his Birthday were the only days he was allowed to skip cello practice, I felt a little sorry for him. But as Li-Wei effortlessly wove a magical charm through both Chinese and Western compositions, I was giving thanks to his father for making him practice. While the erhu, played by the masterful George Gao, brought a mystical element to the concert. It is hard to believe that such a small instrument and only two strings can produce such a variety of sounds. Gao is simply a magical performer.
Li-Wei Qin (Stephen Henry Photography)
The program was packed full:
Happy Lantern Festival was a lyrical and haunting performance based on Chinese folk songs and composed by Bao Yuan-Kai.
Sections of The Carnival of the Animalscomposed in 1886 by Saint-SaŽns was scattered throughout the concert; featuring piano and strings these performances were filled with both melancholy beauty and pure fun.
Galloping Horses composed by Chen Yao-Xin in 1976 was rhythmic and rousing.
Chinese Mountain Tune by Bao Yuan-Kai, featuring a folk song popular in Shanxi and Inner Mongolia was delicate and serene.
Happy Spring by Mao Yuan in 1926 was bright and joyful.
Erhu of the Night and Mongolian Fantasy by George Gao, was inspired by Mozart's aria The Magic Flute. These two pieces can only be described as exceptional; my favourite items on the program.
MosŤ-fantasia, MS 23 by Paganini featuring cello virtuoso Li-Wei Qin, was a blissful addition to a Sunday afternoons music.
Carnival of the Chinese Animals composed for and premiered at this concert by Lyle Chan. This performance featured a narration of the story of the Chinese Zodiac; the story was fun and the music was lovely.
The concert closed with L'oiseau de feu (The Firebird) by Stravinsky, a piece that highlights the magic of Southern Cross Soloists, who with a handful of artists can produce music that has the complexity and nuance you would expect from a full orchestra.
If you weren't there on Sunday you missed a wonderful performance. Future performances for Southern Cross Soloists include:
In addition to their 2019 concerts, the Soloists will continue to partner with Avid Reader Books for their Southern Cross Soloists Avid Reader Coffee Conversations Series. Free events that take place on Friday night before each of the QPAC concerts, offering the opportunity to meet the 2019 guest virtuosos, composers and Soloists.