Elder Hall, Sun 29 Nov.
The sun smiled upon Elder Hall as it played host to all four performing ensembles of the Adelaide Youth Orchestras, which converged before a sell-out audience for a lovely Sunday afternoon of music.
First up were the Adelaide Youth Strings, conducted by ASO violist Martin Butler, and comprised of 50 members ranging in age from age seven to 13, but playing with technique and musicality beyond their years. Their performance began with Palladio by Karl Jenkins, with the upper strings playing off the downbeats provided by the basses and cellos, followed by Richard Meyer’s varied Who’s Who, which offered each section an opportunity to stand and introduce themselves while playing everything from a pastoral open to a waltz and even a playful section involving the snapping of fingers.
12-year old guest saxophonist Ethan Hurn was featured on soprano sax throughout Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1, earning enthusiastic applause from the full house. The AYS continued with A Gaelic Overture by David O’Fallon, featuring a traditional Irish melody, stomps, and a closing violin solo. The next piece, Bach To Rock, found the orchestra racing violinist Aaron Seymour, who stepped away from his instrument to attempt to solve a Rubik’s Cube before the group could finish an edited version of the piece, which he did with by just a few seconds, to one of the strongest ovations of the day. The Youth Strings closed strong with the hair rock classic, The Final Countdown.
Next was the Adelaide Youth Sinfonia, a 60-piece orchestra with winds, brass, and percussion, all aged from 12 to 20 years, and conducted by Elder Conservatorium professor Peter Handsworth. They opened with Edvard Grieg’s Symphonic Dances 1 and 2, Op 64. The first, Allegro moderato e marcato, featured percussive brass answered by the strings, bolstered by some impressive timpani work. The second, Allegretto grazioso, incorporated grand piano and featured bookending oboe solos.
Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 followed, with impressive attentiveness from the musicians as they navigated its strong melody through varying abrupt tempo shifts. Mossman Gorge, from Deirdre Foyster’s Southland Suite, added a touch of dissonance in its slow open, with bassoon and clarinet introducing its more uptempo section, before returning to the original motif. The Youth Sinfonia closed with Hans Zimmer’s Symphonic Highlights from Pirates Of The Carribean: At World’s End, which heavily featured percussion with two snares, chimes, xylophone, and a timpanist pulling double-duty between kettle drums and tom-toms. The piece was boisterous and filled with seafaring motifs set against dramatic brass swells and syncopated figures, bringing the first half of the program to an exciting finish.
After a brief interval, the 30-piece Adelaide Youth Wind Orchestra, a concert band with members aged 13 to 24, began the second half of the program, conducted by accomplished concert band Music Director Alwin Kidney. The AdYWO opened with Symphonic Variations on Amazing Grace before moving on to Jan Van der Roost’s Balkanya – Three Balkanese Dances, packed with Slavic melodies and notable use of alto sax, piccolo, glockenspiel, and muted trumpet. They closed by paying respects to the patron saint of concert bands, John Philip Sousa, with Sousa!, a rousing medley of some of the American march composer’s most famous works, including The Washington Post March and Stars and Stripes Forever.
Finally, the Adelaide Youth Orchestra, ages 12 to 24, came out to complete the afternoon, led by Elder Conservatorium String Chair Keith Crellin OAM. While the other groups all performed well, from the opening notes of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, it was clear that the AdYO was in a league of its own, with crisp and professional performances throughout. Opening slowly, the violins led the melody over a descending cello figure, before the solo clarinet’s ascending triplet arpeggios took centre stage, echoed later by the flute. Later on there was a fantastic chorale from the violins, followed by the cellos and then a solo oboe.
As the performance continued, the orchestra showed no signs of strain through the rhythmically challenging work, with clarinets, flutes, and violins swirling in ascending triplets around the powerfully-delivered melody from the trombones, before giving way to the calm resolution, marked by the solo violin’s sustained notes at the very top of the instrument’s register; just perfection. The audience emphatically applauded the outstanding work of the AdYO, demanding an extra bow from the ensemble before departing into the Adelaide evening.
For more information on the Adelaide Youth Orchestras, visit www.adyo.com.au