Sinfonia’s Australian Landscape series of concerts, featuring Taree’s Kantabile Chamber Choir and Forster’s Company of Voices, wrapped up on Sunday, November 26 at St John’s Anglican Church in Taree, with the audience requesting an encore performance.
The church was filled to capacity with extra seating needed to accommodate the concert goers.
Australian Landscapes was also performed at Laurieton on Saturday, November 25 and at Nabiac on Saturday, November 18.
While the audiences at Nabiac and Laurieton were somewhat smaller than the Taree performance, they were no less enthusiastic.
“Both of the ones in the little halls were a nice-sized crowd. We never expect to get huge crowds at those ones, but they were just those nice-sized, very appreciative audiences. A typical country hall type response,” musical director, Heidi Lambert said.
“We did have some people attend two concerts, they enjoyed it so much. We had people go to Nabiac and Taree, and we had people go to Laurieton and Taree,” Heidi said.
In the first half the orchestra performed some instantly recognisable Australian pieces, such as The Man from Snowy River theme, and Percy Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry, juxtaposed with a more harmonically dissonant contemporary work that challenged the taste of some audience members. This was a conscious choice of music selection by Heidi, as the orchestra’s role is not just to entertain with classics, but to challenge listeners with new works.
“We’re having to move with the times with what’s happening even with the major symphony orchestras, where you’ve got to start doing what is deemed current classical music, including movie scores, as well as maintaining a program of some of the classics.
“If you look at the top 10 orchestras in Australia, 0.8 per cent is Australian music that they perform, and most of those are commissioned works. These are the challenges we face,” Heidi said.
If you look at the top 10 orchestras in Australia, 0.8 per cent is Australian music that they perform, and most of those are commissioned works.Heidi Lambert
A highlight of the first half was a piece written by young orchestra member and 2017 James Hannah-Sinfonia scholarship recipient, Miguel Gutheridge. Miguel’s composition was titled Luttuoso, which translates as ‘mournful’. The composition was melancholy and so beautiful he received a standing ovation.
John Kellaway, the former head of Newcastle Conservatorium and head of brass at Central Coast Conservatorium, conducted Luttuoso, while Miguel led the orchestra on cello.
“John Kellaway actually commented how proud he was to conduct Miguel’s piece,” Heidi said.
Related reading: Australian Landscapes in words and music
Kantabile and Company of Voices joined Sinfonia in the second half to perform I am Australian, four Australian Christmas carols written by John Wheeler and William James, Merry Be You All written by John Seccombe and arranged by Peter Stephenson, and finished with Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australian Home.
“Merry Be You All has won three international awards in the last couple of weeks – in three different countries in one week!” Heidi said.
Now the 2017 year is over for the orchestra, attention turns to what will happen in 2018. Sinfonia are buddying up with the Tamworth Regional Conservatorium Youth Orchestra and will send some of their young members to play in the Tamworth orchestra’s spectacular. Members of the Tamworth orchestra will then come to Taree for a weekend workshop with Sinfonia later in the year.
I think overall it was really received. We were very happy with the response. You can’t ask for more than that.Heidi Lambert
“The Sinfonia Chamber Ensemble will play for the Schubert mass in the Choral Spectacular for the 2018 Manning Winter Festival. We’ll highlight a number of young players, past and current members, doing solos as leaders in their instruments in the area,” Heidi said.
The Winter Festival Choral Spectacular will see Kantabile joined by the Manning Valley Choral Society and the U3A Silver Tones combining in a mass choir to perform the mass and other pieces.
The next year will also be one of rebuilding for the orchestra.
“We’re very light on violin players, so we would love anyone that’s around to play violin to come and have a go! Having lost Juen Van Hand this year, we’re moving into a different place with the orchestra and we’re still finding our way,” Heidi said.
For now, though, the orchestra and Heidi can relax, and bask in the glow of the successful end of year concert series.
“I think overall it was really received. We were very happy with the response. You can’t ask for more than that,” Heidi said.