Touring party

ON THURSDAY night, after a very difficult three days or so professionally, to hear the SSO conducted by Mr Ashkenazy playing Dvořák, Edwards and Scriabin.

I mention the difficult three days not to elicit sympathy, but to explain in part why I sadly heard the Dvořák from the foyer, the 6.30 start for the Meet the Music concert defeating me (I think for the 3rd time in 7 concerts: an ominous portent when I am considering renewing, or which more anon). It sounded pretty exciting from outside (via the speakers) and the audience was obviously responding warmly as I threaded my way through it to my seat (quite a nice one: good seats are easy to get if you are a grown-up on your own at the 6.30 series). I see that it is listed for the SSO’s final European tour concert at Grafenegg, and I expect it may get a guernsey as an encore if one is called for before then.

Andrew Ford does some onstage patter at these concerts.

We had Dene Olding, the original soloist for Ross Edwards’ Maninyas (first performed, Andrew Ford told us, at a Meet the Music concert). The orchestration has been touched up this year for the second time (the first, I read in the program, was when Barbara Jane Gilby performed the work with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra some time in the 1990s). I saw it described as a “new work” in some version or other of the orchestra’s program for the Edinburgh Festival.

Mr Ford is a composer. He rather solemnly pronounced (in relation to Edwards’ own abandonment of modernism in favour of his post-Maninyas style) that if you can’t write something original, there’s no real point much after the HSC. (Shades of the schoolroom do hang over MtM concerts: it comes with the territory.) I’m not so sure about that. What about Gebrauchsmusik? Should that just be left as an employment opportunity for (otherwise original) composers when they are having an unoriginal day?

After interval, the Scriabin Symphony No 3, ‘The Divine Poem.’ Mr Ford told us that until Wednesday, of all the large number of people on the stage, only Mr Ashkenazy had performed it before. We owe that extreme rarity to the crowded musical marketplace of the BBC proms, where the orchestra is slated to play it.

From which you will see that the whole concert was something of an in-town but really out-of-town tryout – and none the worse for that. With few exceptions, there was a double deck of principals. For the Scriabin, Dene Olding returned to sit behind Michael Dauth (who had some rather nice solos of his own as concertmaster) and Julian Smiles took over from Catherine Hewgill as (guest) principal cello.

Walking back to the office down Martin Place, wearing the scruffier of my winter jackets and a beanie, I was offered a coffee at the St Vincent de Paul homeless persons comfort wagon. I think it was the beanie that did it.

6 Responses to “Touring party”

  1. ken n Says:

    Nice report M. Sorry I missed it.

  2. wanderer Says:

    Cello guesting seems a bit de jour. Michael Goldschlager was ‘in’ last week for the Bruckner.

    Martin Place for homeless coffee? max need or min risk?

  3. marcellous Says:

    Wanderer, it hasn’t just been Goldschlager and Smiles. There have been other guests whose identity I have not ascertained.

    Incidentally, though it could have a related cause (I just don’t know) Catherine Hewgill is replacing Timothy Walden in the Russian Roccoco program in November where it is said that Walden is “unable to perform at these concerts as originally scheduled.”

    As to Martin Place, it’s the top of the Place, near the hospital. There is a food handout to the homeless and has been for some time. The vans from St VdeP (maybe they alternate nights with some other mission) pull up from Phillip Street at about 8-ish, from recollection. Because of the Domain and the gardens and Woolloomoolloo beyond, even though the benches at the State Library were closed down as a homeless venue, this is the side of town where the homeless gather. The aristocracy amongst them are the little community which lives in underpass under St James’ Road from Queens Square to St James station. Others take advantage of those few sleepable benches which remain or alcoves, including along Macquarie Street.

  4. Yvonne Says:

    The Co-Principal Cello job is currently vacant. For some reason the info is still up (for now) even though the deadline has passed.

    • marcellous Says:

      Thanks for that info, Y. I see now that although Timothy Walden is still listed in the cello section as part of the orchestra “family” (which brings to mind the famous Tolstoy Anna Karenina quote), the website also says:
      “Timothy Walden was Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony from 2009 to 2010.”
      I don’t know when that tidbit was added, and I don’t really expect you to illuminate us any further about the circumstances, even though they do strike me as peculiar.

  5. A day in the life « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] On the way to the SOH, I saw a few police cars parked in the vicinity of the now-cleared Occupy Sydney site on Martin Place, now reclaimed for the people of Sydney, or at least (or do I mean at most?) the homeless who congregate nightly for redistributed unsold lunches and a cup of International Roast. […]

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