According to ABC Radio National, classical music is undergoing a revolution. It is the most influential genre in the world at the moment. Social media is attracting new audiences to classical music, and the online gaming industry, film scores and TV commercials and shows (think Game of Thrones) are also playing a big part. "Over the last several years classical music has been spreading out into other types of music," said RN broadcaster, author and professional musician Eddie Ayres. Despite its huge popularity, some still think it is elitist. Queensland Symphony Orchestra disputes that and it is more accessible than ever with billions of hits on YouTube. QSO is ensuring that classical music has a bright future, so jump on the bandwagon (pardon the pun) and enjoy some endearing and enduring music at a concert by QSO.
I was very lucky to attend QSO's The Bard and Beyond , one of their Maestro performances at QPAC's Concert Hall. The conductor was Carlos Kalmar, Don't be fooled by the long silver hair, mad professor image of conductor Kalmar. He is Music Director of Oregon Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor of other top-notch orchestras throughout the United States, as well as Europe and Australia. He is innovative and passionate about introducing audiences (and orchestras) to lesser-known repertoires such as William Walton's Symphony No 1.
The soloist maestro was world-renowned violinist Arabella Steinbacher. German-born Steinbacher has been playing the violin since she was three and frequently appears with world-class orchestras around the globe. This year alone "the queen of the evening" has made appearances in Australia, New Zealand, London, Germany and Japan. For all you aficionados out there, she currently plays the 1716 "Booth" Stradivari on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Orchestra Tuning (May Cross)
1. Mendelssohn Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.21 It's remarkable that Felix Mendelssohn composed his Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream when he was only 17! He was inspired by one of his favourite Shakespearean plays and wrote the overture as a stand-alone concert. The story is about a group of amateur actors who perform at the wedding of the Duke of Athens. One of them, Bottom, has his head transformed into a donkey and I could clearly hear his braying in the music. The mischievous fairies were represented by the fast-paced strings. The music was triumphant, redolent of the royal court, but also folksy with hunting calls and galloping horses.
Take a Bow (May Cross)
2. Bruch Concerto No.1 in G minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op.26 Max Bruch's Concerto No 1 is moody and complex and shows off the instrument's melodic range. Steinbacher's brilliant playing brought forth extraordinary sound. It was fast, emotional and melodic. It was clear that the audience was there to hear this gifted musician. She was given a wild ovation and delighted all when she played an impromptu solo encore. I was thrilled to hear one of the most popular violin concertos ever; played passionately by one of today's leading violinists who is celebrated worldwide, on an antique Stradivarius. Magic!
The Blues (May Cross)
3. Walton Symphony No.1 in B flat minor Anything after Steinbacher's performance was bound to be an anti-climax. William Walton didn't stand a chance. His Symphony No. 1 in B flat minor was dark and stormy (like my Bundy and ginger beer). He composed the symphony after his lover left him for another man and the music was "angry" as described by Carlos Kalmar. In four very different movements, the mood swings from dramatic and loud to fast and frenetic to melancholic to energetic and resolved (he had fallen in love again by the time he wrote the 4th movement). The atonality and jazz influences didn't grab me, but I loved when the percussion appeared in the final section with the extra timpani player, plus cymbals and gong. The energetic finale with a big brassy sound was a confident end to the earlier chaos.
The Conductor (May Cross)
"If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die." From Act One, Scene One, lines one to three from the play Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.)
Brassed Off (May Cross)
More Maestro and QSO Concerts
Don't worry if you missed this amazing performance. There is another Maestro concert scheduled before the end of the year to give you that special live concert experience: "Beethoven's Heroic Symphony" is on Saturday 25 October. Additionally, you can attend "Tradies and Artists" on Sunday 14 October and/or Handel Messiah is on Saturday 7 December. You can get more details and make a booking at QSO website. For details of next year's QSO program, see Queensland Symphony Orchestra 2019 Season.