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Annual Concert in Eastbank, June 13th 2015
by philip (11th November 15)
On June 13 Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra, in association with Riverlinks was
proud to present its Annual Concert at Eastbank Shepparton. The members of the
orchestra were primed to give their best performance possible after months of
preparation. There was a particular excitement in the air as we also wanted to play
our best for our wonderful Music Director Wendy Oakes OAM.
The concert began with the 'Con Fuoco' movement from Dvorak's
Symphony No 9, and true to its title the fiery start gave the audience a solid
indication of the standard of music to come. One of the most loved and well known
symphonies of all time, this movement opens with the familiar strains from the strings
of the 'Jaws' movie theme. Rumour has it that composer John Williams was influenced
by more than one classical piece in his compositions over the years. The opening
march played boldly by full strength brass heralds like Star Wars (another film this piece influenced) or a call to arms. A battle
ensues between brass and strings with splices of beautiful melodic interludes from solo clarinet (Carissa Foley) and later, flutes.
Timpani (Wade Gregory) also rumbles to a crescendo of energy and nearing the end of the piece, the strings and brass come
together in a joint battle for supremacy. Climactic false endings trick the listener into a frenzied finale only to conclude instead with
the most powerful chord of all - a dying away E Major chord from Winds only. Spine tingling. What a start to the concert!
After such a huge opening there was still no lull in energy, talent or performances to come.
Our first guest, brilliant pianist Celeste Cari came to the Steinway on the floor in front of the stage to perform two
pieces by Grieg: March of the Dwarfs Op 54 No. 3 and Nocturne Op 54 No. 4. Her skill and attention to dynamic detail had the
audience spellbound and you could hear a pin drop, the appreciation was so great.Three operatic pieces, Bizet's
'Carmen Suite No: 1', Rossini's 'Overture to Barber of Seville' and 'Bacchanale' from Saint-Saëns' 'Samson and Delilah' were all
performed to an excellent standard and continued enjoyment by the audience. Bacchanale opened with a beautiful clarinet solo by
Carissa Lee and the rising hypnotic Hebrew strains had all entranced.
Between these operatic pieces the audience was treated to a solo performance by our second guest performer, talented
bass trombonist Simon Baldwin, accompanied with great skill and sensitivity by local pianist Sharon Leppard. Simon's performance of
Bozza's 'New Orleans' confirmed his deserved place at the prestigious Aspen USA Music Festival. We hope this experience went
well Simon and we look forward to hearing all about it.
Wade Gregory featured during our concert on different levels, literally! For the performance of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in
Blue' Wade performed brilliantly from the auditorium floor at the Steinway, deftly performing the complex piano solo in sync with
the orchestra above. Despite the risk of difficulties as a result of distance, the result was perfection. Back behind the timpani, the
first orchestral performance of Wade's original composition 'Gail's Theme' was warmly received by the audience, in particular by
the person for whom it was written, who was understandably delighted.
36 Degrees South entertained the crowd with three beautiful songs, 'Dance Me to the End of Love', 'In the Still of the
Night' and 'Yes Sir, that's My Baby'. The beautiful blend of voices was thoroughly enjoyed both from the auditorium and from the
wings. Joan Greenwood's professional direction and her ability to bring out the skills of the singers was very evident.
Carissa Lee, talented clarinetist, music teacher at Numurkah Secondary College and member of GVCO was our third excellent
soloist, performing Rabaud's 'Solo de Concour', accompanied beautifully by pianist Charlotte Drinnan. So much work and dedication
is put into these solo performances, both by soloists and their accompanists and this is very much appreciated by us all.
Steven Sargant stepped up to the podium to conduct three Leroy Anderson pieces. The first, Arietta - an elegant and
songlike piece featuring the strings contained no hint of the usual novelty style of Anderson's compositions. This was soon rectified
by the following two numbers, featuring percussionists Wade again, Gauthham Santhakumar, and Helen Rankin. The Waltzing Cat
required special sound effects -namely dog howling and cat mews - from Wade and Helen....PURRfectly in tune with each other. The
second piece, The Sandpaper Ballet brought the percussionists to the front of stage for a theatrical and musical performance of an
immensely complex soft shoe shuffle on sandpaper! Despite this, the light-hearted performance seemed to delight the audience for
its comic arrangement directed by Steven.
The big finale had arrived. 36 Degrees South returned to the floor for a massed performance of Les Misérables' 'One Day
More' with the orchestra and our wonderful vocal soloists Felicity McCowan and Simon Oakes who were joined by Wade Gregory.
Unfortunately sickness prevented Renée Rankin from being the other soloist this year, but with very short notice well known local
identity Jan Deane kindly stepped in to sing Renée's part. Renée and GVCO were very grateful to Jan for her willingness to do this
at short notice and it was a delight to hear her voice again. I think she really enjoyed the experience too.
David Abbey, who had capably managed the smooth running of the concert with his expert Master of Ceremonies skills,
didn't have to ask the audience to call for encore. It was a given. No one wanted the concert to end, musicians included. The
orchestra obliged by performing a medley from the musical 'Frozen', a popular Disney animated film. The night was over. We can't
wait for the next one. And be ready. It is a BIG ONE....next year will be our 20th Anniversary Concert and there are many
wonderful plans ahead, one being that next year we will perform two concerts on the one weekend.....so if you can't get enough of
us, there is your opportunity for more. Thank you, Patrons, Sponsors and Friends for all your ongoing support.
Can you believe it ...20 years!?! See you then!

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