On the weekend Bec and I went to see the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at the Empire Theatre for their performance of Sounds from the Deep. It has been many years since I have seen an orchestra perform live. As a very young child, I can remember going to see an orchestra at the Festival Theatre in Adelaide as part of the Performing Arts Program for Primary Schools. It was Peter and the Wolf and I can remember each instrument being introduced as they played the theme for each of the characters in the story. Of course, there have been orchestras when I have seen some musical productions but they are always hidden down in the pit.
I have always enjoyed listening to classical music but seeing an orchestra perform live is quite a different experience from listening to the CDs at home. I really enjoyed watching the facial expressions and body language of the musicians as they were playing. I especially enjoyed the double bass players. The double bass is such a large instrument so I can imagine it might take a fair bit of effort to play in the rousing energetic parts. It was such a joy to see how much fun the musicians were having and how much they enjoyed playing for an audience.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is one of the largest performing arts companies in Queensland and is Queensland’s only professional symphony orchestra. The orchestra dates back to 1897 but was only established as Queensland’s first full-time orchestra in 1947. And if you are wondering whether there is a difference between a symphony orchestra and just an orchestra – there is! A symphony orchestra has the instruments which enables it to play a symphony.
The Sounds from the Deep is a program that spans a range of eras, composers and musical forms. All the pieces are connected by their common theme of water, in all of its different forms – oceans, rivers and lakes. It was good to hear a performance of a variety of different composers, from a classical composer such as Mendelssohn to quite contemporary composers such as Australian Nigel Westlake.
- The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave), Op. 26 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
- Scheherazade, (1. The Sea and Sindbad’s Ship) Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
- Excerpts from Antarctica: Suite for Orchestra and Guitar (1. The Last Place on Earth & 3. Penguin Ballet) by Nigel Westlake (b1958)
- Cavatina from The Deer Hunter by Stanley Myers (1930-1993) orch. Jessica Wells (b. 1974)
- The Moldau from Má vlast (My Country) by Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884)
- Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes (III. Moonlight) by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
- On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314 by Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899)
- Finale Act IV from Swan Lake, (Dance of the Cygnets, Odette Offended & Finale) Op. 20 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
The Conductor, Guy Noble, was very entertaining, cracking jokes with the audience and having some light hearted fun with the musicians. After what we thought was the last piece – Swan Lake – he suddenly disappeared off the stage only to return sporting a pirate patch. I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but we knew exactly what to expect next and we weren’t disappointed – Pirates of the Caribbean by Hans Zimmer! Such a terrific piece to end the evening.
Some people may think classical music is old-fashioned or even on its way out, but nothing could be further from the truth. Classical music is not just Mozart, Beethoven or Tchaikovsky. Many film scores comprise of music that would be described as classical music. Just try to imagine Lord of the Rings or Star wars or Pirates of the Caribbean without the music score. And the Empire Theatre was packed which just goes to show that classical music never really goes out of fashion and that we really appreciate seeing a symphony orchestra out here in the regions.
And thankfully we will have another opportunity to see the Queensland Symphony Orchestra very soon in another live simulcast from QPAC featuring the music of Grieg, Ravel and Beethoven. We’ve already got it marked on our calendar, but if like us you live in regional Queensland and enjoy good music, you might like to check if it is coming to a venue near you.