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Concert Reviews - 10 September 2016 - American Story

Sylvester Kroyherr - Published in Bohemian Rhapsody Club online Newsletter

REVIEW OF CONCERT BY THE ZELMAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA – American Story
Given at: Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre, XAVIER COLLEGE, Barkers Road, Kew on 10/9/2016.

Conductor: Mark Shiell,
Soloist: Philip Arkinstall (Clarinet) ​ Following a brief and informative pre-concert introduction by Mark Shiell, the packed audience rustled in anticipation, awaiting the Aaron Copland Fanfare for the Common Man. The short 5 minute piece thundered the emotions of war with crispness and clarity.

To follow was George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture (Arranged by Robert Russell Bennett) that presented 11 segments featuring various melodies from the musical. The dramatic opening sections were contrasted by the soothing Summertime theme with some colourful well balanced interactions between the two harps and the orchestra. The bouncy I Got Plenty O’Nuttin followed, with a lovely fusion of the banjo that flowed into the thundering hurricane section, again contrasted by the rich strings portraying the feelings between Porgy and Bess. The fun continued at an exciting pace with good flow and lyrical prowess. It was interesting to see that in some sections the first violins were playing different parts and overall, the 25 minute piece finished in grand style.

​The next piece before the interval was Aaron Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp and Piano (set for small orchestra). Philip’s masterly technique was evident from the start as he eased into the first movement with sublime gentleness. His playful cadenza was quite complex but he handled this beautifully, while the orchestra, harp and piano nurtured him along lovingly. The piano bridge connecting the first movement to the second was quite clever. However, the second movement was somewhat disharmonious with tricky syncopation, high register runs and agitation — reminiscent of Hitchcock's Psycho! Though technically very difficult, the performance was stunning. To conclude this half, Philip treated the audience with a cheeky little encore — Gershwin’s Walking the Dog. This was a most delightful piece that was enjoyed not just by the audience but the orchestra (We noticed some huge grins and happy gestures from Mark!).

Following the interval, the orchestra presented the Cuban Overture by Gershwin that exploded into an exuberant and exotic Latin American carnival, packed with exciting local percussion instruments. The notable and expressive clarinet bridge led into the melancholy and dreamy section, ending with rhythmical flair, excitement and a well controlled crispy ending — concluding in about 15 minutes and priming the exuberant orchestra for the finale.

Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story: Symphonic Dances was the next offering. Set around his musical, this consisted of 9 segments encapsulating the essence of the piece and set for orchestra. From the beginning, the orchestra beamed of having fun, firstly with a strong interplay between the horns and strings. The song Somewhere was especially touching that engaged the horns, strings, piano and harp. However, the most fun filled segments for all, were the Mambo and Cha-Cha with the orchestra adopting hats and scarves while having a ball! Yes they raised some laughs too! With the romantic touch of the strings and the 2 keyboards, the Meeting Scene proved very heart warming to be followed by calm (Cool, Fugue) and the busy fighting theme (Rumble). In conclusion, the Finale ended with a sensitive, though sad interplay between the flutes and strings leaving an air of fulfilment and love.

The enthusiastic audience wanted more! As an encore, we were treated to The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson (soloist Roger Adams) — a truly fun piece that left everyone tickled and fulfilled.

A great end to the concert!

Full marks to Mark Shiell and the Zelman Symphony Orchestra, as we look forward to the next event in December 2016. A most enjoyable and enriching concert – congratulations to everyone, including all the volunteers!

SYLVESTER KROYHERR (Singer/Musician/Architect) - 14 September 2016

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Page last modified on September 17, 2016, at 08:52 PM