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.
An afternoon filled with classical music delivered by impressive young talent
This past weekend, Queensland Youth Orchestra (QYO) held the finals concert for their National Youth Concerto Competition. Held at the Old Queensland Museum Concert Hall, String Sensations delivered a delightful afternoon filled with classical music.
The three national finalists each performed a concerto, ably backed by the Queensland Youth Symphony (QYS). The performance also featured three talented recitalists: 16 year old Chae Eun Oh and 15 year old Lili Stephens performed beautifully on violin, while 17 year old Sebastian Pini gave an outstanding performance on Double Bass.
The afternoon opened with Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2featuring soloist, 14 year old Alicia Poon. This performance was totally enchanting—Alicia's intense focus and vigorous commitment to each note had the audience totally engaged. The Adante was enjoyable, both romantic and mellow. However, it was in the first and final Allegros that Alicia really shone. Filled with contrast and vibrancy, these faster-paced movements were well suited to her intense commitment and fiery energy. I found myself smiling throughout the performance and at the end, I kept thinking of those beautiful 20th Century Disney princesses. Alicia was like one of these modern princesses, full of talent, personality and passion.
Next, we were introduced to 14 year old Grace Wu who, accompanied by QYS, performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. While the previous performance left me thinking of princesses, this one left me thinking of the Mona Lisa. I kept having to check the program to assure myself that Grace was only 14 years old - her elegance, composure and command of the performance belied her age. And just like Mona Lisa, Grace had a little smile throughout the performance - perhaps confidence, perhaps joy in the performance. Whatever the reason, I was also left smiling at the end. Mendelssohn's Concerto is a familiar piece: the Allegro molto lyrical and flowing, the Adante passionate and warm and the Allegro non troppo vibrant and joyous. This familiarity increased my enjoyment, with the music so recognisable I was free to enjoy the solo performance - there was a lovely balance between the orchestra and soloist throughout this performance. I must give a nod here to the Bassoonists - their performance throughout and especially in the bridge between the first and second movement added delicious tone.
The third Concerto of the afternoon was Glazunov's Violin Concerto, featuring 16 year old Andrew Wang. Andrew presented as a serious young man and he delivered a seriously technical performance. Glazunov's Concerto is filled with complexity; the three movements, played without pause, take the audience on an emotional journey where melancholic introspection gives way to romantic and energetic rhapsody. While technically excellent throughout the performance, Andrew shone in the more energetic sections of this performance. Trumpets heralded the third movement and a change in Andrew's playing - the Allegro was full of joy and it was here that we caught a glimpse of a more playful young man. When technical excellence and passion combined Andrew's performance was outstanding.
While the judges deliberated these performances, the audience was treated to Tchaikovsky's Dances from The Nutcrackerand Bernstein's Overture to 'Candide' conducted by Greta Hunter. What an invigorating way to end an afternoon of classical music. The QYS performed with energy and passion. While all are to be commended, I was really impressed throughout the afternoon by the percussion. With patience and precision, the percussionist underscored the rhythm and brought shade to each of the afternoon's performance. I particularly enjoyed the tambourine performance during Dances from The Nutcracker.
This was a lovely afternoon of classical music and all three solo performances were excellent. However, as the judges lamented, there can only be one winner and on the day, with only one point between performances, Andrew Wang took out first place. All three of these young people are champions and each will, no doubt, have amazing musical careers.