Ophicleide! Another Ophicleide! Serpent! – How romantic!

This Sunday (6 March), at 3pm at Paddington Town Hall, the recently formed Orchestra Romantique will be giving its second Sydney concert. The first was last year. I missed that.

I shall be going this time. How could I fail to, when they are featuring two ophicleides and a serpent?

Guy Noble has given the orchestra a plug as has Wanderer – it seems that they were at the same party, to which I was not invited – probably wisely given my philanthropically challenged nature. W has invited me to give the concert a plug. This is it, though it is hard to see how I can add anything to what he has said already and unlikely that anyone likely to go reads my blog who has not already read his.

I shall take a materialist approach.

The top-price tickets are $25. There’s a bargain!

Assuming all of the orchestra’s listed members front to play, that’s 54 musicians in fact, they say it’s 60! (and could be more: see comment/s below). That’s obviously not a financially sustainable proposition – even if everybody paid full price and the hall was full (capacity 600) and [contrafactually – see comment below] the entire door takings distributable equally among all, that would only be $277.77 each with an extra 20 cents or so each for conductor and soloist [correction – $250 and no tip for conductor and soloist]– but it’s worth encouraging.

The main feature is the Symphonie Fantastique. To be honest, I’m not sure how this will work with a maximum of 28 [correction: 31] strings. Nick Byrne (apparently co-founder with conductor Nick Carter) will play an Ophicleide concertante work (this must be a rarity) and the program opens with Weber’s Oberon overture. Wanderer has suggested that the opening horn solo could be played by the ophicleide as well (or do I mean instead?), but I really think that would be a step too far. On my limited exposure, I would say that the ophicleide is “romantic” in the chronological sense as a matter of music history, rather than in terms of moonlight and fairies (despite its inclusion as a substitute for the English Bass Horn in Mendelssohn’s MSND Overture).

Three more concerts are foreshadowed this year “in May, October & December, featuring music by Schubert, Schumann, Liszt and Beethoven.” That suggests to me that the orchestra is planning to settle down into the sort of repertoire that the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (until last year) had a go at bringing to Sydney. It’s repertoire which can be carried off by a smaller orchestra. I was sorry to see the TSO give up its (pretty ineptly managed and marketed, in my opinion) forays to Sydney, and I really hope the OR’s venture prospers.

PS: Parking can be tricky in Paddington. The public transport planner for travelling from Museum Station to Paddington Town Hall (I allowed for a 2.30 arrival because it’s General Admission) very helpfully offers as its first suggestion that you walk (1945 metres; 29 minutes).

5 Responses to “Ophicleide! Another Ophicleide! Serpent! – How romantic!”

  1. Kim Traill Says:

    Just a small correction re numbers of musicians required for Symphonie Fantastique: We have 15 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos and 4 basses, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, 2 ophicleides, 1 serpent, 2 timpani, 2 percussionists and 2 harps … which comes to a grand total of 60 musicians. And you’re absolutely right about the sums! They do not add up. Many of the musicians are generously donating their services to this venture … while the organisers (me!) are nervously wondering how much a kidney might fetch.

  2. marcellous Says:

    My numbers were based on the website: I haven’t checked my back-of-an-envelope (literally) arithmetic but I accept your more specific projections.

    • marcellous Says:

      Except that I make:

      15 + 6 + 6 +4 = 31 strings
      2 + 2 + 2 + 4 = 10 w/w
      4 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 14 brass
      2 + 2 + 2 = 6 misc

      31 + 10 + 14 + 6 = 61

      plus conductor = 62

  3. Family-Friendly Concert « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] Sunday, as foreshadowed, I went to hear Orchestra Romantique at the Paddington Town […]

  4. Will Kimball Says:

    Nice post! For quite a few pictures of ophicleides throughout history, see http://www.kimballtrombone.com/2010/ophicleide-history-and-images

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