When I was a little girl my father would always play classical music on the old style big reel to reel tape recorder. His favourites were Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. As little girls do, I would dance around the room but not to pop music but to classical music as that is all I heard in my house. I grew to love it and would swan around entertaining family and friends losing myself in the majestic music. Over the years I have often attended classical music concerts at Sydney Opera House and thoroughly enjoyed them. When I heard about the HIP (Historically Informed Performance) new Orchestra seventeen88 doing a Cecilia Day treat, I was very keen to go along.
Orchestra seventeen 88 is a unique pool of talented Australian musicians that have studied and performed historically performed practice in Europe and Asia for several years using authentic period instruments. Concertmaster and internationally renowned violinist is Rachael Beesley, who has featured extensively with international ensembles and orchestras as well as the crème de la crème of Australia's own. The complete period ensemble will be conducted by Sydney born and bred Benjamin Bayl , who has also had many successful years in Europe and Asia leading well known orchestras and Opera companies.
Benjamin Bayl Conductor image courtesy of Sirmai Arts Marketing
Soloist and principal flutist Georgia Browne, who currently resides in the UK, joins this unique orchestra and will highlight the evening playing her authentic wooden classical flute.
Georgia Browne Solo Flutist - image Sirmai Arts Marketing
Richard Gill OAM, a legendary Australian musician and educator recently awarded the 2014 Art Music Award for Distinguished Services to Australia Music, is the artistic director of orchestra seventeen88. He formed the orchestra in 2013 with the aim to educate and enlighten audiences young and old taking music as heard by the original composers out to audiences that may never have heard music presented in such a historical way. Leading the rediscovery of the Classical and Romantic repertoire with beauty and precision and in doing so are the orchestra is considered sui generis in performance.
Informal group photo showing Richard in the middle - courtesy of Sirmai Arts Marketing
The new school hall was the perfect venue for this event. Beautiful construction using exposed bedrock walls as a dramatic backdrop, bolted steel arches and exposed precast planks, the seating sparse and hanging ceiling and side panels using Australian hardwoods added to the elegance of the event. All waited in anticipation of a beautiful unique performance as the orchestra dutifully warmed and tuned their instruments.
orchestra seventeen 88 warming up - image Seafarrwide
Warming the instruments from room temperature prior to the performance is apparently quite important. Not only to help focus the musicians on their task ahead, but to allow air and moisture into the wind instruments to prevent an overly sharp sound and with the string instruments the warmth can sometimes cause a thermal expansion, which can decrease frequency causing flat strings with no tension. We could all hear there would be no chance of that happening.
A short speech and introductions by Richard Gill mentioning that we would all be privy to enjoying what would be Australia's first of a kind performance from an orchestra using period instruments in a historically informed way.
Finally, the main concert begins with Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus Overture in C major, op.43 (1800) which marked Beethoven's introduction to the world of Viennese theatre and ballet in 1801. Like Beethoven's First Symphony, this Overture begins in an electric discord: C major with a Bb in the bass. The music starts off slow and lyrical taking its time to reach C major then increases in tempo majestically fast with vibrant Allegro scales and arpeggios ending with a brief crisp coda. Beautifully balanced in sound; truly a great opener to the evening.
The next pieces are from Mozart's Concerto No.1 written for the Flute and Orchestra in G major, K.313 (1778) The three movements are introduced with an Allegro maestoso picking up the pace dramatically but when the Flute enters it more or less continues on its own with mid and high notes of distinction. I particularly enjoyed the soloist Georgia Browne's plangent cantabile phrasing connecting the notes with exquisite seamlessness.
Georgia Browne & orchestra seventeen88, Mozart Concerto No.1 for Flute & orchestra in G major - image Sirmai Arts Marketing
After interval Schubert's Symphony in C major, D.944 begins. Schubert wrote his "Great" Symphony no.9 in C major towards the end of his life. It is truly a vigorous, daring majestic piece of work showing the true talent of orchestra seveteen88. The depth of melodic and harmonic invention throughout are remarkable. It is obvious to all that a degree of stamina is required to achieve such heights of brilliance and this is easily shown considering its difficulties.
orchestra seventeen88 - image Sirmai Arts Marketing
Showing true Schubertian melodic style and development the trio of Viennese third movement consists of one long melody which is gloriously unfurled snaking its way gradually over the edge to brilliance. The second movement comprises of dramatic trombone chords creating a ringing crescendo of impatience. The Allegro vivace - Trio being tenacious and intoxicating with its energy. Ending in an intense exhilarating choral finale making you wonder what brilliance Schubert could of continued to achieve had he lived past his 31 years.
Conducted triumphantly by Benjamin Bayl proving that he too can be jubilant in victory. His outstanding accomplishment conducting the transitions of the different movements in Schubert's heavily annotated score was almost effortlessly achieved and was a true indication of his success in his chosen field.
Benjamin Bayl Conductor image courtesy of Sirmai Arts Marketing
This evening showcased this exceptionally talented and very competent orchestra and I can see them securing their place in the Australian musical scene. Richard Gill did impress the importance of this type of orchestra ensemble to continue to perform and educate emerging young musicians and if you wish to support the orchestra seventeen88 you can become a Friend by donating. Visit their website for more details. Click here.
Saturday August 15th at 2.00-5.30pm
Santa Sabina College, 90 The Boulevarde, Strathfield
Sunday August 16th at 2.00-5.30pm
Kincoppal Rose Bay, New South Head Rd
Chamber Music Concert
• Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Sinfonia No.6 in Eb Major (1821-3)
• Anton REICHA (1770-1836) Octet in Eb Major Op.96 (1807)
•Talk by Richard Gill
•Marquee Afternoon Tea
• Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony No.17 in G major K 129 (1772)
• Christian Ernst GRAAF (1723-1804) Cello Concerto No.2 in D major
•Soloist: Louise King
• Unico Wilhelm van WASSENAER (1692-1766) Concerto Armonico in A major (1740)
• Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 62 in D major (1780/1)
•Reception including a complimentary glass of Molly's Cradle wine
Adult $65 | Concession $50 | Student $15
The 2015 Festival promises to be a fascinating insight into the thriving Dutch music-making metropolis of the 18th century.
Saturday 21st November 2015 - Venue is yet to be announced.