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Newsletter No 2: 2014 Season

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From the President: Daniel Kirkham

Welcome to our September Audience newsletter!

I have the honour of having been recently appointed as the new President of ZMSO Inc. As you will read in the Player Profile, I have been a long-term member of both the Orchestra as well as its management, and I'm certainly looking forward to contributing to the Orchestra in a new way.

I would like to thank our previous President, Allison Summers, for her stewardship over the last six years, and for her decision to provide continuity by remaining on the committee.

An incoming president often wants to make their mark quickly with an organisation, however as an integral part of the team that brought you unforgettable events such as the Mahler 8 and Sidney Myer Music Bowl performances, I think it is more appropriate to reaffirm our aims as an organisation; that is to present fine, enjoyable and affordable concerts in both Melbourne and regional Victoria, and to provide opportunities for professional, amateur and student musicians alike to perform music together at a high level and to enrich our community’s cultural life. These aims will not change, but we will continue to evolve our way of achieving these aims.

Unfortunately I will not be able to join you in September, as I will be travelling in Europe with my family, and hopefully attending a few concerts while there. However, I look forward to meeting you, in my new capacity, for our December concerts where we will be presenting two glorious and exciting concerts.

Daniel Kirkham
President, ZMSO Inc.

Message from the Artistic Director

I would like to start by thanking so many of you who have become regular members of our audience in recent years.

I never want to take your presence for granted so I have a question. Continuing to ask this question will, I hope, help to keep us, the members of Zelman Symphony, focused on the real job at hand.

My question to you as our audience is — Were you moved?

If you are not moved then we are not doing our job. Any other priority for us has to be 'off the mark' perhaps even shallow or a kind of artifice.

Technique without heart or emotional connection to the music leaves me cold and quite often annoyed. When I am in an audience I want to feel the communication of the music. Have any of you left a concert (maybe half way through) feeling as though it was just business as usual for the musicians. I have. Personally I would prefer to hear a Primary School recorder ensemble playing with heart than a professional ensemble who may be just going through the motions. I want to feel that the performers 'feel'. I don't just want a clever constructed representation of emotion. It's not enough to hide behind style. Great music is great because it reaches emotionally across time.

Sometimes slavish devotion to technical perfection can obscure the real goal — to reach into the music and communicate it heart to heart. Any musician and any audience knows when they have a great performance regardless of the standard of the performers. My question remains — Were you moved? See you at interval...

Mark Shiell,
Conductor and Artistic Director, ZMSO Inc

Restoration of the Zelman Celeste

Thanks to the ongoing generosity of Kew and Kew East Bendigo Banks, the restoration of our historic Celeste is well under way. The Celeste was first invented by Auguste Mustel in France in 1886.

Ours was owned by Alberto Zelman Jnr himself. Dating back to around 1890, it is an early example made by Mustel.

Our Celeste is sounding so much better than it has, with new felts under the metal bars, repaired cracks in the resonator boxes and new felt on the hammers.


The restoration team with the resonator boxes, the heart of the Celeste.

This restoration is a truly international affair. The work is being done by a Master in Piano Craftsmanship from Poland, Gregory Machnacki (centre); piano restorer and french polisher, Laurence Hunter (right), owner of Pianoworks in High St, Kew; and expert in all things musical, Rodney Reynolds (left). The piano-like hammers that strike the metal bars to produce the sound were sent to Les Ateliers Desfougères in France which specialises in re-felting piano hammers.

In December, we will launch the restored Celeste when we perform The Planets by Holst. It will ring out clearly over the orchestra as the composer would have expected.

This Community Enterprise Foundation™ $9,900 grant was given to us as part of the Bank’s charter to return 50% of its profits to the community. Please contact George Prodromidis, Manager of Kew East branch, 661A High St Kew, 9859 7699 for all your banking needs and mention Zelman Symphony — you and Zelman Symphony will both benefit.

Player Profile: Daniel Kirkham

Our New President

Daniel Kirkham was born in Melbourne, and grew up in Launceston. Clearly influenced by the 70's rock scene, he became proficient in air guitar before taking lessons on a real instrument aged nine. He rapidly discovered the classical form of the instrument, and ultimately received an LTCL aged 17.

His introduction to the symphony orchestra was with the triangle and a particularly dodgy set of high school drums. It was at this time he took up the viola, unusually being able to handle a full sized instrument and without learning violin first. Within six months, he was playing in two orchestras, adding a third, the Northern Tasmanian Youth Orchestra in his later teens.

Daniel studied Engineering at university and since graduating, has worked at Telstra in a number of roles in the Research Laboratories and Chief Technology Office, scoring a number of technical firsts for the company. He is presently responsible for technology strategy in an emerging technology area that is placed to revolutionise networking.

Having moved back to Melbourne, Daniel joined the ZMSO in 1989. He served for over a decade as the orchestra’s Librarian, and until recently, as Vice President. In addition to this he maintains the orchestra’s website and ticketing systems and prepares most of the creative advertising material. He also recruited Mark Shiell as Conductor — twice!

Outside of work and the orchestra, Daniel is a keen cyclist, photographer and traveller, enjoys camping and is an inveterate tinkerer in computing and electronics.

Introducing Michael Bakrnčev

On September 20, we will premiere a work composed by contemporary Australian composer, Michael Bakrnčev, the 2014 Zelman Symphony / Melbourne University Emerging Composer. For the briefest of moments, Michael gives us a personal Zelman-only insight into some of his musical thinking and his personality.

What drove you to become a composer? There were many reasons. In retrospect, some were juvenile and naïve, but ultimately it was communication. As a performer on electric guitar, Jazz Clarinet & Macedonian Kaval (wooden end-blown flute), I felt I couldn't express or communicate thoughts or feelings important to me by playing other people's music. I was always interested in the construction of sounds, so I started composing.

What does music mean to you, composing in particular? This is an incredibly vast question to even attempt to answer. In short, though, I believe that music is part of the cosmos — an incomprehensible and vast continuum of space and time. Imagine harmonics vibrating off planets, solar systems and galaxies. Music, to me, is the finest ornament of the human experience.

What do you like to do when you are not composing? During the week I like to devote basically all of my time to writing, reading, listening, observing and thinking. On the weekends I try to have as much fun as possible, which sometimes comes in the form of swimming in waterfalls, camping, hiking, exploring mine shafts, spending time with family and trying to live life to its fullest.

FUN-USUAL FACT: Michael's heart breaks every time he accidentally steps on a snail.

Tell us a little about your life. Being a composer, or any kind of artist for that matter, is a fairly challenging existence. I’ll share one hilariously common example, which is meeting people for the first time, who ask me about my 'job'. Often after telling them that I try to earn my living as a composer, they have no idea that composers even exist (including my girlfriend, before we met)! I have been told on a couple of occasions that being an artist over 30 is one of the toughest forms of existence in Australia — I'm not yet 25, so ask me in five years what I think about that. Alas, when all of the obligatory artist whingeing is said and done, I’m here, I’m writing music every day and I just grow to love it more and more each day, and when I have the opportunity to write for an amazing community orchestra with such a great legacy, one that I’m adding to, like the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, it reaffirms why I love this so much.

What do you hope to achieve out of your collaboration with Zelman Symphony? My ultimate goal, is to imbed a level of acceptance, thought & technique within the orchestra's members, so that over time, playing new music by Australian composers will be the norm — and we will have a new school of thought about classical music, one that we as Australians can be proud of. Getting behind, supporting and encouraging not only Australian composers, but instrumentalists and audiences too, is incredibly important. More immediate goals include: effective execution from effective communication, clarity in musical ideas achieved including timbral & gestural activity, philosophical and musical language tied together and communicated to the listener with effect and ultimately, an enjoyable performance which takes the listener on an exciting musical journey.

2014 Concert Season Details

Saturday 20 September, 8.00 pm, Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre, Xavier College.

  • Michael Bakrnčev - The Death of Pythagóras at Metaпontum
  • Beethoven - Emperor Concerto with Hoang Pham, 2013 ABC Young Performer of the Year.
  • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6, Pathétique

Sunday 28 September, 2.00 pm, Deakin Edge, Federation Square

Free 1 hour Concert

  • Michael Bakrnčev - The Death of Pythagóras at Metaпontum
  • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 Pathétique

Saturday 6 December, 8.00 pm and

Sunday 7 December, 2.30 pm, Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre, Xavier College.

  • Vaughan Williams - Concerto for Oboe & Strings with Andrew Kawai, runner up in the 2013 ABC Young Performer of the Year Award.
  • Britten - Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
  • Holst - The Planets

Bookings via our website or call 9853 1962.

Friends of Zelman

Join free to stay in touch. Receive concert notices, flyers and newsletters. Email or write to Friends of Zelman, PO Box 408, Kew East, 3102.

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Page last modified on November 30, 2014, at 12:20 AM