30 July 2019


I haven't felt this was about an orchestral concert since the Berlin Phil. But it's a longish story. As we entered Llewellyn, I was amused to find performers in tails chatting in the various foyers at Llewellyn. Max holding shop; various others; probably the women too, but their garb was not so obvious. 15 mins to the event and I ran into one tails wearer and asked his instrument: "double bass". I congratulated the orchestra on their relaxed presence and got a selfie for a joke. This was Timothy Dunin, now Double bass professor in Graz and once of Vienna Phil. I asked how many double basses: 8. I was surprised. So relaxed, this family affair, but so big. We took our seats. The orchestra bulged over the Llewellyn stage. First up was Nigel Westlake and it was a dream: sharp, dynamic, clear, precise intonation and shared phrasing. For once, a sound that filled the cavernous Llewellyn. Desks behind desks of violins; those 8 basses all whipping phrases in parallel. Then Janacek Taras Bulba. There were claps between movements. This was a different crowd: strange, that. Not my favourite music, but we were in raptures. The principals shifted at the interval: Max for Damien Eckerlsey (?); Daniel Dodds for Natalie Chee as concertmaster; perhaps others. Then Sibelius Symphony no.2, Dmaj. We sat back in appreciation and awe. Plenty of applause. Then, before departing, the orchestra hugged (never seen that before and my camera wasn't ready). Then the lower foyer with everyone milling around, performers moving through, admirers and relatives waiting. There was a private function for the orchestra in the ante-room (what's it called? The ex-Library) which you could easily crash but we didn't. Everyone smiling and this seeming to be a great fun homecoming and mates' gathering. Waiting, I had a chat with the Mum of another of the bassists (Andrew Sinclair). How are the bassists so omni-present? Perhaps because they are so essential. Or perhaps because I find them; they seldom carry an instrument and they are late out. It was a whirlwind and an orchestra of such effectiveness that it floored us. Wow! Don't miss the AWO if it returns.

The Australian World Orchestra played Llewellyn Hall under Alexander Briger (conductor). The basses were: Timothy Dunin, Damien Eckersley, Max McBride, Robert Nairn, Phoebe Russell, Andrew Sinclair, Ciro Vigilante and Dusan Walkowicz.

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