28 May 2018
This latest pleasure was to play with the Forrest National Chamber Orchestra. Gillian Bailey-Graham formed the FNCO in 2007 to provide experience for advanced string students in the string orchestra repertoire and to develop technique. I've just heard them once before, at Wesley, although I've played with Gillian in Musica da Camera for the last year. I joined too late to get my mind fully around the difficult, main piece of the concert, Dvorak Serenade no.1 in Emajor, although the others were mostly OK. They were Purcell Abdelazer suite, Marcello oboe concerto, Sibelius Romance and Faure Pie Jesus. Gudrun Drake joined for oboe on the Marcello overture; Jackie McIntyre sang the Faure; Gillian conducted most works but Shilong Le conducted the Marcello; Rebecca Lovett led as concertmaster. The Faure was to die for, the sort of work that brings tears to eyes, and Jackie did a wonderful job on it. The oboe concerto was a neat baroque piece what Gudrun played with clarity and a capable commitment. The orchestra contains a mix of experienced, mature players, several with professional, orchestral experience, and young but serious students. It's another little-known gem in Canberra. Another discovery was the room: the Canberra Girls Grammar Chapel with the altar as stage. I've heard concerts there but never performed on the altar. The very first notes I played on bass felt huge and others confirmed it's a great acoustic. Acoustics must fit performance, of course, but it worked for this group. I expect it's various ceiling and wall shapes and angles that reflect sound back to the altar. Whatever, it was nice. And hi to Nari who doubled my bass on her cello for the Dvorak and others.
Forrest National Chamber Orchestra performed Purcell, Marcello, Sibelius, Faure and Dvorak at Canberra Girls Grammar School Chapel under Gillian Bailey-Graham and Shilong Le (conductors), Rebecca Lovett (violin, concertmaster) with soloists Gudrun Drake (oboe) and Jackie McIntyre (vocal).