Sunday, September 22, 2019


Conducted by Max McBride
Llewellyn Hall 22 September

Reviewed by Len Power

If you like variety in your classical music, this was your dream concert.

A collaboration between the ANU School of Music (ANU) and Canberra Youth Orchestra (CYO), the concert featured works by ANU composers Kim Cunio, Frank Millward, Chris Sainsbury, Alexander Hunter and Chloe Sinclair.

In addition, there was also a performance by this year’s CYO Concerto Competition winner, Nicholas Hilderson, on clarinet.  Also performing were 4 members of Wild Voices Music Theatre and soprano, Katrina Wiseman.

Bringing it all together was returning conductor, Max McBride, who conducted the CYO for 17 years from 1992 to 2008.

The CYO concerto competition had 14 competitors this year from around Canberra and regional New South Wales.  The winner, clarinet player Nicholas Hilderson, opened the concert with a performance of the Clarinet Concerto No. 2 by Carl Maria von Weber with the orchestra.  This demanding work was a fine showcase for Hilderson, who played with skill and accuracy.  He was particularly impressive with his emotive playing of the second ‘Romanza’ movement.

From left: Conductor - Max McBride, Composers - Frank Millward, Alexander Hunter, Chris Sainsbury, Chloe Sinclair, Clarinet Soloist - Nicholas Hilderson

The concerto was followed by five works by ANU composers.  Each work was quite distinctive.  Taking its cue from the Scottish Gaelic word for ‘weaving’, ‘Figheadairreachd’ by Alexander Hunter was a colourful and atmospheric work that was well-played by the orchestra.

Chris Sainsbury’s ‘Beach Holiday’, described as ‘orchestral surf music’, deftly evoked a recognizable sense of summer and Australian beaches in its epic and dramatic soundscape.  Frank Millward’s ‘Alice’s Common Sense Suite’ was as delightfully quirky as the Lewis Carroll character that inspired it.  All dressed identically as Alice in Wonderland, four singers from Wild Voices Music Theatre – Rachael Edwards, Leyla Papp, Olivia Skazlic and Eleanor Tehan – performed the nicely melodic vocal parts of this work very well.

The Alices: Rachael Edwards, Leyla Papp, Olivia Skazic, Eleanor Tehan

‘Autonomy’ by Chloe Sinclair, was an edgy work that was nicely unpredictable in its direction.  At times melodic, lush and with repetitive rhythms, it was well-played by the orchestra.  Kim Cunio’s ’21 Mantras for Tara’ was a beautiful, soaring work that had its origins in the harmonic chanting of Tibetan monks.  Max McBride played double bass to represent the low-key chanting of the monks as well as conducting the orchestra.  Katrina Wiseman gave a hauntingly beautiful performance of the soprano part of this work.

Soprano: Katrina Wiseman

The concert concluded with a spirited performance by the orchestra of Richard Wagner’s demanding overture from his opera, ‘Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg’.

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