07 December 2016

Almost the big one

This was the final concert for the 49th year of the Canberra Youth Orchestra. Next year is CYO's 50th anniversary. That makes 1967/68 its founding year, at the height of hippiedom, the Summer of Love, Sgt Pepper's, before the ecstasy of Woodstock and the descent of Altamont. Then disco. And in jazz, Miles' second great quintet and into his electric years, and the death of Coltrane. But the Western classical stream continued and continues. The CYO is a fine ensemble and the musicians excite beyond their almost-tender years. Last night's theme was Brahms, specifically his Symphony no.1 Cmin, as the main work, but accompanied by Chaminade for flute and orchestra with soloist Lily Bryant and Mendelssohn for violin with soloist Donica Tran and Sibelius Finlandia played by unaccompanied brass. The soloists were both hugely impressive and I guess we can expect even more over time. Finlandia is wonderfully evocative and a demanding play for brass alone, not least standing as they did (especially for the heavy metal tuba), but they did it well and it rings so nicely for brass. The Brahms was big, four movements, complex, sometimes innocent and delicate, other-times lyrical and mellifluous (I borrow some descriptions from the program), later bold and triumphant. Some eye-wateringly fast bass lines had me chuckling. Congrats to six bassists! This orchestra is a great training device but more than that, a huge pleasure to hear and follow. And a great buy to boot: get your generously cheap season tickets soon. 2017 features Idea of North, Claire Edwardes and Gabi Sultana, a concerto competition winner and James Morrison. Sounds like some jazz-age partying will seep into the CYO half-century celebrations.

Canberra Youth Orchestra played Chaminade, Sibelius, Mendelssohn and Brahms at Llewellyn Hall under Leonard Weiss (conductor) with soloists Lily Bryant (flute) and Donica Tran (violin).

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