Friday, April 26, 2013

SYMPHONY OF AUSTRALIA

Directed by Stuart Maunder
Music Composed By Gavin Lockley
National Gallery Of Australia, James O Fairfax Theatre
April 20 - 21, 2013

Review by Len Power 20 April 2013



Composer, Gavin Lockley’s ‘Orchestral Songs of Australia’ and ‘Symphony of Australia’, presented at the National Gallery of Australia, proved to be an exhilarating program in celebration of Canberra’s Centenary.

Eight songs were presented from ‘Orchestral Songs of Australia’, based on words by A.B. Paterson, C.J. Dennis, J.L. Cuthbertson, Bruce Simpson and John O’Brien.  The music by Gavin Lockley accompanied the words very well and ranged from the intimate to the spectacular, with an occasional hint of Aussie larrikinism in some musically humorous endings.  Of special note amongst the vocal soloists was Stuart Maunder’s fine rendition of Bruce Simpson’s ‘The Packhorse Drover’, Renae Martin’s, ‘The Ant Explorer’ by C.J. Dennis, complete with unexpected whistling finale, the composer himself, Gavin Lockley, with, ‘A Bush Christening’ by A.B. Paterson and Darryl Lovegrove’s stirring ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

‘Symphony Of Australia’ in six movements, takes us through major aspects of Australian history.  Highlights included the atmospheric didgeridoo playing by Glen Doyle in the opening Dreamtime, Australians at war with a haunting Pie Jesu beautifully sung by Renae Martin and the stirring ‘Sunburnt Country’ finale.

The program was hosted by the director, Stuart Maunder, who also gave us a rare opportunity to hear his fine singing voice.  The orchestra was conducted with great feeling by Simon Kenway and the music was accompanied by excellent projections by Hamish Siddins.  An added bonus was seeing the joy on the composer’s face hearing his own music played so well.

Originally published in 'City News' 24 April 2013 Edition

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