Saturday, May 2, 2015

“Our ANZAC Tribute…” Musica Da Camera String Orchestra

Musical Director: Leonard Weiss
Holy Covenant Anglican Church, Cook 2 May 2015
Shire Hall, Copeland St., Gunning NSW 3 May 2015 at 2.00pm

Review by Len Power 2 May 2015

I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend afternoon than listening to a live orchestra playing a very interesting selection of works as an ANZAC tribute.

Canberra’s Musica Da Camera, a 20 piece orchestra, started originally as a baroque ensemble in 1979 and has expanded to embrace music of all styles and periods.  They now give a series of three concerts a year.

Conducted by ANU graduate, Leonard Weiss, the orchestra played a fitting ANZAC tribute with war-related pieces by John Williams (Theme from Schindler’s List), Frederick Septimus Kelly (Elegy For String Orchestra “In Memoriam Rupert Brooke”) and Dimitri Shostakovitch (Chamber Symphony No. 1 in C-min Op 110A).  Additional works played were by Aaron Copland (Hoe Down from “Rodeo”), Antonio Vivaldi (Concerto alla rustica), Eric Whitacre (October) and John Rutter (Suite For Strings).

It was an ambitious program with plenty of variety from well-known items to others not so familiar.  The feature work by Shostakovitch would test any orchestra’s abilities and Musica Da Camera played it very well.  It’s a remarkable work – sombre but deeply emotional with frenzied passages that are dramatically satisfying.  The Elegy For String Orchestra by Kelly was also beautifully played achieving a strong sense of grief for the loss of a loved one.  Knowing that it was written in Kelly’s tent at Gallipoli and that he lost his life in the Battle of the Somme makes this piece especially poignant.

The well-known Vivaldi concerto was a good contrast and nicely played, as was October by Eric Whitacre, a lesser-known work that evokes autumn.  The sound was distinctly American and it was played with grandeur and great feeling.  The other items played were also very enjoyable.

Leonard Weiss has done great work with the orchestra here.  From the choice of works to the confident playing by the orchestra, this was a very enjoyable concert.  It will be repeated on Sunday May 3rd at the Shire Hall, Copeland St., Gunning at 2.00pm.