Wednesday, November 16, 2022



John Ma Musical Director

Holy Covenant Anglican Church, Cook, 12 November


Reviewed by Len Power


When you get a musical director and violinist as much fun as John Ma, a concert can’t fail to be enjoyable.  He has his own refreshing take on the music to be played and describes it in amusing and accessible terms.  Watching him playing his instrument and leading the orchestra is to see a man who obviously loves what he does and wants to communicate that to his audience.

The concert consisted of lesser known works by Heinrich Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Antonio Vivaldi and Georg Muffat, composers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Heinrich Bach was J.S. Bach’s great-uncle.  His Sonata II in F with its punchy opening set the tone for the concert.  The orchestra gave it a great performance, full of energy and colour.

John Ma leading the Musica Da Camera String Orchestra

The next work, Telemann’s Overture: Suite La Bizarre, was another busy work with 8 movements.  It was a good showcase for the skill of the orchestra who played it with great depth and feeling.  The Sarabande movement was particularly enjoyable with its sombre, melodic theme.

Vivaldi’s Concerto in D-major for Viola D’amore was prefaced with John Ma’s interesting and informative discussion about this instrument he was about to play.  Larger than a violin, it had seven strings and the same number of sympathetic strings strung through the bridge, giving it a special resonance.  It had a unique sound.

John Ma playing the Viola D'Amore

The busy first and third movements of the concerto were played with gusto and the second Largo movement was most memorable with the viola d’amore’s haunting sound rising so appealingly above the orchestra.

The final work, two movements of George Muffat’s Armonica Tributo Sonata da Camera No.5, were played very well by Ma and the orchestra.  The jaunty passages in the second Passacaglia Grave movement were unexpected and refreshing.

The concert was played without an interval break and this worked well, ensuring that the mood created by these works was not lost.  This was an afternoon of great music from the period, well-chosen and played.


Photos by Peter Hislop.


This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 13 November.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at