6 December 2020

St Paul

It was St Paul who had a road to Damascus moment of conversion.  It wasn't like that for me at St Paul's Manuka but it was a great pleasure to play in this space for the first time.  I'd attended lots of concerts here and it's a favourite venue.  On stage, the sound was a great pleasure with my bass strong and present.  Looking up to the high ceiling and the distant organ and surrounded by this large string orchestra playing a wonderful program, I was deeply satisfied.  Perhaps less so with my playing (one's playing always determines one's view of a concert, I find).  Gillian had asked me to play only two weeks before and this was a challenging program and I was busy with other gigs.  But the pleasure remained mine.  Bach's rollicking Brandenburg no.3 at a good pace; the first movement of the Mendelssohn octet op.20 with bass playing the cello 2 part.  I am flabbergasted to learn Mendelssohn wrote this sophisticated piece at age 17.  Also a delightful Rossini Sonata no.6 (written when he was 12) and Beethoven Romance in F with violin solo and Sibelius Andante Festivo to top it off.  The playing around me was great, not least the cellos down my end.  Those parts were demanding and so sturdily played.  We had a decent crowd, too, given that Covid distancing had halved from 4sqmpp to 2sqmpp only two days before.  Strangely, the recording was not so generous with the instruments more distant in this deep altar space - the sound may be a little obstructed by that altar arch or maybe they were just so much more distant from the mic - but the effect was lovely, nonetheless, and the space was a delight.  And there were banks of strings here - the octet required violins 1,2,3,4, violas 1,2 and cellos 1,2; thus an octet.  So a fabulous outing with some wonderful musicians and a deeply satisfying program.  Thanks especially to Gillian for the invitation.

 The Forrest National Chamber Orchestra performed its Festivo concert at St Paul's Anglican Church Manuka under Gillian Bailey-Graham (conductor, director) and Rodney Clancy (asst conductor) with Rebecca Lovett (concertmaster) and Natalie Neshev (violin solo).

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