16 December 2018

New kids on the block


Canberra Sinfonia was a new one on me but Lenny explained: it's like CYO for advanced students bordering on professional (or more formally, from the program: "Canberra's newest semi-professional ensemble designed for and by emerging professional musicians"). Nice. Hayley's there and she's just finished her degree and I've played with her and that was a pleasure. So were Heng and Helena and they are also lovely players. Apparently this is their second concert, playing Bach and Handel ; their first was a few months back. The program was Bach Orchestral suite no.1 and two Handel organ concerti (op.7 no.1,4) with new Decca artist and once-local guest Calvin Bowman. Interestingly, we were also invited to applaud between movements: no-one did, but it's an interesting break with recent orchestral manners. Lenny said the Handel was interval music for his oratorios, so it would have been background and spoken over anyway. Sometimes you feel a need to give some response during a piece but it's not a done thing. It wasn't done here anyway, despite the invitation. But this was a lovely performance with quite a solid bottom end on the strings and a pleasant tinkle of harpsichord from where I was sitting in the second half, along with Calvin's second half organ, and some winds, two oboes and a very impressive bassoon doing bass lines occasionally. I say solid bottom given the strings were 2-2-2-2-1 (vln1-vln2-vla-clo-bs): in most orchestras they would increase in numbers from bottom to top, so a different balance. Interestingly, each Handel concerto had a movement that was solo organ "organ ad lib". I guess this is written these days but it's indicative of the skills in improvisation by these musicians in the past, and specifically Handel himself. So, a great little concert attended by too few, this being so close to Christmas. I'm looking forward to more. A choral concert with Luminiscence Chamber Singers is due 23 March .

Canberra Sinfonia performed at Wesley under Leonard Weiss (conductor) with Calvin Bowman (organ) soloing on Handel.

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