15 October 2019

Virtual listening to self

It's odd to hear your own band, here your own orchestra, playing live, but it can be informative. Given travel, I couldn't play this concert but I could attend and listen. Conductor Alan Cook, from Melbourne, was in charge of NCO and Roger and Geoff were in the bass seats, which I obviously watched with interest. I was sorry to miss playing the Mozart Clarinet concerto with Eloise Fisher, but beyond that, this was a program rich in variety. First up was May Lyon Orchestral equations, a contemporary symphonic poem about solving Fermat's Last theorem. Three varied movements with real development. Then the Mozart. Then, after interval, Rimsky-Korsakov Antar symphony, showing obvious similarities to his Scheherazade, with similar themes and similar story-telling style, and to finish, Borodin's ever-popular Polovtsian dances to leave us with smiles all round. Alan has a history in Russia and the Ukraine and with Rimsky-Korsakov. I was not the only one who loved Eloise's clarinet, beautifully expressive and softly toned. The orchestra was short on first violins, so the balance could be bass heavy, although not overwhelmed by our two basses. This is not the stuff of professional 100-piece European orchestras that I've heard recently but still admirable and satisfying and impressive. They (or We) lack the confidence of the professionals, that readiness and ease to commit and emote, even when our skills are perfectly presentable. It shows in dynamics. The Europeans attack, are quiet or loud, but are always something. We do that sometimes, it showed occasionally in responses in Mozart or in changes in Borodin, but we can tend to reticence despite chops. It's no surprise but it is something to work on. But we must remember this is a community orchestra playing the real thing with considerable ability and impressive capability. So my advice to self, be proud and be daring. It shows.

National Capital Orchestra performed Mozart, May Lyon, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin at TheQ under Alan Cook (conductor) with soloist Eloise Fisher (clarinet) and Grace Underhill (concertmaster). The bass end comprised Roger Grime and Geoff Prime (basses).

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