Review of LMO Concert

Lake Macquarie Philharmonic Orchestra Concert Review

Conductor Christopher Bearman OAM

Sunday November 6th at 2pm, Lake Macquarie Philharmonic Orchestra drew such a following to
the Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, that not all who arrived could safely attend, and so
some were turned away. While this reviewer is sad that those turned away missed a stunning
concert, it was a wonderful reward for Mercia Buck and the Lake Macquarie Music Society for their
commitment to providing an annual orchestral concert in the lake area. The presence of Lake
Macquarie Mayor, Kay Fraser, was timely. The demand for quality performance was clearly shown.
Christopher Bearman directed a varied program. The first half began with the Overture to Johann
Strauss’ opera Die Fledermaus, arias from fine opera singers, interspersed with the Intermezzo
from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and ending with the Waltz from Sleeping Beauty by
Tchaikowsky. The second half was devoted to Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikowsky, sometimes known
as the ‘Fate’ symphony.

The orchestra was a mix of mature experienced players and younger players at varying stages of
development. This made for a blend of enthusiasm and style, with all players attentive to the
conductor and intent on the music. The Die Fledermaus overture had a few untidy moments but
confidence and musicality grew with each orchestral piece. The Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo
began with more assurance and the beauty of the meditative string melody was very well
expressed. By the end of the first half, the orchestra gave a lively and lyrical performance of the
Sleeping Beauty Waltz.

Tchaikowsky’s 4th Symphony has 4 movements: Andante sostenuto, Andantino, Scherzo and
Finale. It opens with the ‘Fate’ theme stated by the horns and brass, while the second movement
presents a beautiful folk melody. It was the third movement that showed how this orchestra ca
rise to a challenge with the whole movement performed pizzicato by the strings. The Finale 4th
movement returns to the ‘Fate’ theme and brings the symphony to an exhilarating end. As
Christopher Bearman said at the beginning of the second half, it is only a symphony orchestra that
can bring this music to life and in the canon of symphonic music lie great gems.

The audience was in tune with the mood completely with many rising to their feet in appreciation of
what we had all experienced. Across the orchestra, solo instrumentalists were consistently reliable
and expressive, with special thanks from this reviewer to the piccolo player, for his accurate presto
playing in Die Fledermaus.

The inclusion of singers and arias was a delight. Jared Lillehagen, baritone, sang ‘Avant de quitter
ces lieux’ from Faust in addition to joining Alex Sefton, baritone, in the stirring duet ‘Suoni la
tromba’ from I Puritani. Sefton gave voice to the popular Toreador song from Carmen. Soprano
Georgia Hall presented the tragic aria ‘Pleurez, pleurez mes yeux’ from El Cid while Susan Hart
and Marian Moroney gave us the timeless and sublime Flower Duet from Lakmé.

I wonder whether next year, there may need to be a Saturday evening performance as well as a
Sunday afternoon? All I can say is that I will be getting my ticket sorted out early!

Dr Jennifer Barnes
November 8th 2016

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