Monday, 18 February 2013

Perth Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert

Yesterday I arrived in Perth at three thirty and sat through two hours of the Perth Youth Orchestra rehearsing for the Spring Concert. Why did I put myself through this? Well, firstly, because it was actually quite an enjoyable experience and secondly because I’ve volunteered to be PYO’s publicist. This means I get to do press releases and reviews of their concerts, which all in all not only interests me, but it’s perfect for gaining experience in journalism. I’m doing this review for the blog and the blog only; the other review will have to be a bit more refined as it’s going in the local papers. But with the blog I can let my hair down so to speak…

After listening to the orchestra rehears, I knew that the actual concert would be brilliant. During the rehearsal, Allan Young (who was conducting later that evening) fine-tuned and adjusted imperfections in the way the members of PYO performed their pieces. I actually can’t quite put my finger on what he was fixing because the details were so minute they were almost impossible to pick out. It just goes to show the degree of perfection PYO are expected to play at.

When it came to the actual concert, the Perth Symphony Orchestra opened with the Tchaikovsky ‘Nutcracker’ suite followed by Mahler’s Adagietto symphony No 5, Night on the Bare Mountain by Mussorgsky and Suite No 1 ‘Peer Gynt’ by Grieg. Although these were all played brilliantly, it was the second half of the concert that really took the spotlight.

PYO and PSO joined to perform a collection of cinematic themed pieces. The first of these being ‘Salute to the Cinema’ by various composers (arr. Strommen). This was made up of songs from Singing in the Rain and Wizard of Oz among other things I can’t remember. It was brilliantly performed but completely outshone by the next piece. This is probably because the next piece was the Harry Potter Symphonic Suite by Williams (arr. Brubaker), and if that doesn’t make you like orchestral music, there’s something wrong. All that tweaking earlier on in rehearsals really paid off because I can honestly say that although the music sounded good in rehearsals, it was ten times better during the concert. The Harry Potter Symphonic Suite was belted out with such enthusiasm I really was tempted to sing along like a complete nutter.

Following this was the Selections from Les Miserables by Schonberg (arr. Lowden). This featured Dreamed a Dream and On my Own, plus a few other songs I can’t identify seeing as I have never actually watched Les Miserables. I know – I lead a deprived life, but that will all change after the film comes out on DVD. PYO and PSO performed this brilliantly and it was followed by my favourite performance of the night, the Suite from The Lord of the Rings by Shore (arr. Whitney).

The best part of The Lord of the Rings Suite was definitely the percussion section. During areas of the music where they were supposed to be representing orcs (I think) they let rip. Murray said it was the loudest he’d ever heard them play, so you can imagine what it was like. They even got to use hammers. Yep. Mental.

And to finish it all off was Themes from 007 by various composers (arr. Custer). These were chosen specifically because PSO were celebrating their sixtieth anniversary which coincided with the date the James Bond movie franchise was born. Allan Young even dedicated the Themes to anyone in the audience or orchestra whose birthday was that day. This meant the Themes were dedicated to one member of PSO!

To put into context how good the concert was, the audience clapped for about ten minutes when it was over! Personally, I think the Spring Concert has to be one of the best concerts I’ve attended, and the best thing is, PYO just keep getting better.
PYO and SYO in concert

Panoramic view (light rehearsal)

Chaos of rehearsal