Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Maruki Community Orchestra
Conducted by John Gould
Albert Hall, 26 May 2019

Reviewed by Len Power

‘Double Bill +’ was an ambitious program for any orchestra, but the local Maruki Community Orchestra showed that they relished a challenge and produced a creditable afternoon of fine music.

This is a community symphony orchestra devoted to all musicians in the Canberra region, regardless of age, experience and skill level, who have strong interests in playing classical musical instruments in an orchestra environment and who wish to develop their skills and express their musicality.

Left to Right: Melvyn Cann, concertmaster, Peter Ellis, soloist, and John Gould, conductor

Conductor and musical director, John Gould, who began his career with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1958, led the orchestra through two symphonies by Beethoven and Dvořák, a prelude by Wagner and Saint-Saëns’ ‘Danse Macabre’.

The concert commenced with the Prelude to Act 1 of Richard Wagner’s opera, ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’.  Some instruments were not tuned as precisely as they should have been and the playing was a bit wobbly at the start, but once they had warmed up, the orchestra gave a good account of this rousing work.

Next, the orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B flat major.  They played the first and fourth movements especially well.

Saint-Saëns’ ‘Danse Macabre’ was the third item on the program.  Peter Ellis played the solo violin for this popular, atmospheric work.  In keeping with the mood of the piece, he had skeleton transfers attached to his violin, a supermarket cheapie.  Used just for this item, he explained to the audience that this violin had, surprisingly, just the right tone for the solo part of this particular work.  He also looked suitably devilish by sporting a skeleton-patterned head scarf.  Both he and the orchestra gave an appropriately edgy and pleasing performance of this item.

After interval, the orchestra played the Symphony No. 8 in G major by Antonín Dvořák.  This work, full of beautiful Bohemian melodies, is always a delight to hear and the orchestra produced a fine sound overall.  The colourful third movement was especially well-played.

Observing this orchestra playing as well as they did for the sheer joy of it, resulted in a memorable and entertaining concert.

Photo by Len Power

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of 27 May 2019.

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