With House Full signs up at the front and the box office turning hundreds of people away hoping to book for this concert I would strongly suggest you book now for the rest of the season and next year’s wonderful programme by the Willoughby Symphony.
This concert started with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra under the emphatic, enthusiastic direction of Dr Nicholas Milton performing a sizzling version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.
This is the first ballet that Diaghilev commissioned from Stravinsky, based on a Russian fairytale, with choreography by Fokine, featuring the legendary Tamara Karsavina in the title role. This ballet was followed by Petrushka and Rite of Spring.
We heard the 1919 orchestral suite which was given a dazzling performance, with a large, rich, pulsating sound. The string section was huge and there was an Assyrian style designed beautiful harp.
The piece began very softly with the strings and then one could hear the darting, alien bird in the shimmering music. Lush, lyrical floating music accompanied the Princess’ round dance, which was followed by a startling crash and a stomping, tumultuous Infernal Dance for King Kaschkei and his creatures .The Firebird’s Berceuse,with its seductive woodwind and strings is hypnotic and all leads to the thunderous, triumphant conclusion.
After interval came an explosive, riveting performance of Orff’s CARMINA BURANA (composed 1935-6) , the Willoughby Symphony Choir and Chatswood Public School choir joining the Orchestra. One of the most popular yet simultaneously reviled choral works, the piece is based on a thirteenth century collection of songs and poems in Latin and German ( translation handily given in the programme) becoming a collection of singing and dancing choruses based on the Wheel of Fortune .The tumultuously powerful O Fortuna, Velat Luna opening the work (Nescafe coffee anyone?!) nearly lifted the roof off.
Baritone soloist David Hidden, dressed in an elegant tuxedo, was in fine voice and his solos were magnificent including Estuans Interius.
Bespectacled Kanen Breen, our tenor soloist, had enormous fun stealing the show as the swan (Olim lacus colueram). For his aria he entered at the back of the stalls and was dressed in a fancy black tuxedo with gold detail and trimming and a black feather boa. He lamented his way to the front of the stage with his rendition of No Swan/Stranger from Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. He brought the house down– a fabulous, electric ‘swan song’.
Soprano soloist Joelene Griffith with her waist length glorious chestnut hair looked like a princess in beige and silver and sang divinely. Her solos were exquisite and floated with a pure tone– particularly in the Court of Love section with the Chatswood Public School children’s choir, dressed in their blue school uniforms, providing excellent accompaniment.
Running time two hours including interval.
An enthralling concert, fabulously played and sung. This fine concert took place at the Concourse Chatswood on the weekend of the 8th and 9th August.