Sunday, April 7, 2019

JAMES McCUSKER ORCHESTRA & CANBERRA YOUTH ORCHESTRA IN CONCERT


Conducted by Shilong Ye and Leonard Weiss
Music For Canberra
Overture Hall, Orana Steiner School, Weston

Reviewed by Len Power 6 April 2019

In their first concert for 2019, the James McCusker Orchestra and the Canberra Youth Orchestra joined forces for an enjoyable afternoon of orchestral works that are well-known family favourites.

Music For Canberra, a non-profit organisation with a community focus, offers Canberra’s largest program of instrumental, ensemble and orchestral tuition, musical experiences and workshops, and performance opportunities.

The Canberra Youth Orchestra (CYO) is the premier youth symphony orchestra in the ACT and wider region.  The orchestra performs a diverse range of repertoire and features world-renowned soloists.  The James McCusker Orchestra (JMO) is Music For Canberra’s second or training orchestra in the performance pathway, sitting just prior to the Canberra Youth Orchestra.  It enables young players to gain exposure to the fundamentals of orchestral ensemble playing, as they develop their musical skills.  The orchestra works towards regular performances at venues and community events.  JMO musicians typically progress to the CYO as they develop musically.

Being the first concert for the year, a show of hands indicated the large number of new members in both orchestras.  That they played so well was a credit to them all and their conductors.

The James McCusker Orchestra, conducted by Shilong Ye, commenced the concert with Ennio Morricone’s ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’, originally written for the movie, ‘The Mission’.  This was followed with the third movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘English Folk Song Suite’.  These very different works were played very well by the orchestra.

The Canberra Youth Orchestra, under the baton of Leonard Weiss, then gave a colourful and enjoyable performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Russian Easter Festival Overture’.  The spirited finale was especially well-played.

Both orchestras then combined on stage to play two movements of Bizet’s ‘L’Al├ęsienne Suite No. 1’.  Leonard Weiss conducted the first movement and Shilong Ye conducted the second.  The musicians gave a fine performance of this popular French work.  In the first movement, the lyrical passages were sweetly played and the rousing finale of the second movement was exciting with the large number of musicians playing confidently and accurately together.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.