23 June 2013

No better rehearsal space

I was waiting for the Queensland Youth Orchestra 2 to commence their concert in the Great Hall at Parliament House and one of the parents said that this was the best rehearsal space they could have imagined. The concert was delayed while they waited for harp and timpani to arrive then make it through security and the loading bay. Everything has to pass through x-ray screening at Parliament House. Big things have to go through the big machine in the loading bay, then be shuttled to wherever. So the concert was delayed and the band had practice time. 78 of 90 members made it to Canberra for this weekend. This is QYO2 (Queensland’s second youth orchestra). It was obvious enough that these are students, not professionals, but the concert was intimate, the pieces were wonderfully attractive and, at their best, when the brass blared and the percussion percussed and the strings flailed, this was heart rending and emotional music. They played Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet suite, then Mussorgsky/Ravel’s Pictures at an exhibition. Both have some vigorous moments with memorable brass-rich melodies, but there’s also interest between the best-known segments, recounting the story of star-crossed lovers as only youth can experience, or responding to those pictures at that exhibition. The concert wasn’t well advertised (I passed my brochure to the Parliament House visitor desk so they knew when and where and who was playing) and the audience seemed to be Parliament House visitors who lucked on a concert. The audience was probably not as large as the orchestra, but it was appreciative. They played an encore from Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite, again popular and appealing, this time with a 17-year old female vocalist with a strong voice and surprisingly large presence in that huge space and with that imposing ensemble. Then the applause and relaxation and I expect a lively (although very cold) night in Canberra before their concert the next day with the Canberra Youth Orchestra at Llewellyn. I wish I could have made that one: they were playing Pictures at an exhibition with the combined force of the two orchestras: 130 musicians. It must be a blast for the musicians to play at Parliament House and this was as good a way of spending a lazy Saturday afternoon as I can imagine.

While waiting I discovered more of Parliament House. Firstly, there are fossils in the black marble in the foyer. Secondly, I confirmed our rough-riding democracy by noticing the prominence given in the shop to a book, obviously damning and about the current government, no less: Downfall : how the Labor Party ripped itself apart / Aaron Patrick.

The Queensland Youth Orchestra 2 was conducted by Sergei Korschmin in the Great Hall of Parliament House. They performed Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet suite, Mussorgsky / Ravel’s Pictures at an exhibition and Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite.

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