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GVCO Annual Concert, Eastbank Centre, Shepparton 23rd June 2012
by philip (25th June 12)
GVCO's annual concert was held for the first time in the Eastbank auditorium. With 53 players in the orchestra, as well as guest artists, the choir, "Thirty Six Degrees South", Alex Ford, Simon Oakes, Renee Rankin and Felicity Oakes, the logistics were daunting, but as usual, Wendy Oakes' chioce of music and entrepreneurial flair ensured another wondrful performance.
GVCO Annual Concert, Eastbank Centre, Shepparton 23rd June 2012
Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra was proud to present their Annual Concert from the stage and screen of Eastbank Performing Arts Centre Shepparton on Saturday June 23rd at 8pm.
A capacity audience appeared to enjoy the concert as much as the orchestra did performing it for them. From the skilled and witty delivery of MC, David Abbey to the motivational direction of conductors Wendy Oakes, Steven Sargant and Peter Read, the nervous tension and anticipation of the GVCO members and guest performers gave way to a stunning and exceptional night of talents and beautiful music. My perspective (Helen Rankin’s) began from the balcony of the Eastbank auditorium as percussionists were not required for the first half of the program. This gave me the chance to view the orchestra from the opposite end than usual. Instead of everyone’s backs, I could see the orchestra as a whole, their faces lit by wonderful hues from the lighting, eyes intent on their music and the conductor’s baton. The Eastbank stage was a wonderful sight to behold and a sense of pride in the efforts of its members and the growth in the orchestra towards this achievement was keenly felt.
One comment from the audience view was from my daughter Kate Rankin (past leader), who proclaimed that this was her first time viewing the orchestra from the audience as well. At first this delighted her, but this later gave way to a slight envy and disappointment at not being in the throng of the orchestra mass on the Eastbank stage.
It was certainly wonderful to feel so welcome in the hub of Shepparton’s arts/entertainment precinct. This outcome is due to the outstanding and devoted work of one person, conductor Wendy Oakes (right, with Cindy Abbey), who through thick and thin has believed in the potential of music and musicians in the Shepparton Community. Support and opportunity from Greater Shepparton’s Performing Arts and Conventions Manager Steve Donelly has also meant that the orchestra has achieved great things over the past few years.
The concert featured many wonderful highlights. From the opening rousing chords of Beethoven’s ‘Egmont Overture’ to the encore of Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus In the Underworld’ accompanied by rapturous, rhythmic hand-clapping, the audience was taken on a spirit-lifting joyride. The stage setting included two grand pianos on the floor, each side of a catwalk. The piano lids raised high gave the stage a grand perspective, like music’s wings.
Pianists extraordinaire Charlotte Drinnan (left, with daughter Luella) and Bruce Sterling performed the ‘Rondo’ (3rd movt) from Mozart’s Double Piano Concerto No 10 with great musicality, the distance between them no barrier to their wonderful skills which kept them perfectly together for the entire performance, a sight to behold and a joy to the ears from the balcony.
Local choir ‘36 Degrees South’, directed by Patricia Sargant, performed the well known hymn, Parry’s “Jerusalem” beautifully from the catwalk with the orchestra and then went on to entertain the audience with three other songs, ‘Ipharadisi’ ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Price Tag’, skilfully manoeuvring around the catwalk when rearranging harmony sections. A great balancing act!
The first half of the concert was completed with Wendy Oakes conducting the orchestra for their beautiful performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No 8.

After interval conductor Steven Sargant directed the full orchestra (percussion included!) for Holst’s, ‘Mars, Bringer of War’ from the Planets Suite. This included some astronomic views screened as a backdrop to the performance. The intensity of this piece had everyone stimulated and ready for the rest of the concert. Special guest Alex Ford, violinist and winner of the inaugural Shepparton Young Instrumentalists Award performed two Pablo de Sarasate pieces ‘Romanza Andaluza’ and ‘Caprice Basque’, accompanied by his mother Linda Ford. Alex showed great skill in the many demanding aspects of the pieces, showcasing what the violin as an instrument and its owner are capable of achieving. From the back -of -stage perspective, it was spellbinding to watch Alex perform, the spotlight on and streaming through him in an otherwise dark auditorium. It was a wonderful achievement for such a young man.
Next it was the orchestra’s turn to step up to the mark. The most challenging piece in this year’s repertoire preparation had arrived, and although many members doubted their abilities, Wendy’s confidence and determination to run it regardless paid off! Thanks to the AWESOME snare drum performance from Bruce Archibald, the orchestra gelled for an excellent rendition of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’. For some, it brought back memories of Torvill and Dean on ice while for others, including MC, David, it reignited memories of Bo Derek in the movie ‘10’ starring funny man and musician Dudley Moore (the real star!)

The concert then came to a conclusion with the final performance from the orchestra, including popular vocalists Simon Oakes, Felicity Oakes and Renée Rankin in ‘Highlights from Evita’. Simon’s solo of ‘High Flying Adored’ was wonderful- his voice maturing with age, his velvet tones very much enjoyed by all. Renée then entered the stage for her performance of ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. Her voice seemed effortlessly strong, beautifully filling the auditorium and her stage presence was steady and secure. Felicity then lit up the room with her skillful stage confidence and sang ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ with her ever-angelic voice. Their voices then joined together seamlessly in harmony, captivating the audience...and then the concert was over all too soon.
Is there any opinion out there that we could do this concert more than once, or take it on the road? It is so sad to prepare so hard and then for it to be over in a flash!
We really hope you enjoyed the concert. The orchestra and committee were delighted to see such a large enthusiastic audience and we hope that Eastbank will be our home in the future. It was wonderful to see so many happy and familiar faces and we look forward to welcoming you again next year.
(by Philip 07/08/12 08:31AM)