Tag Archives | Kevin Purcell

Orchestra Musicians Never Fail To Amaze Me

Kevin_PurcellI had the great pleasure last weekend of working with an essentially ‘scratch’ orchestra comprised predominantly of musicians teaching instrumental music in Schools in Melbourne and regional areas; including some musicians from the ADO roster, all of whom gave so generously of their time.

The ADO, through Managing Director, Janine Hanrahan, and Artistic Administrator, Briony Buys, was asked to curate this concert for the inaugural Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) Arts Learning Festival. I was delighted to return to Melbourne to work with the orchestra on a program of music specifically composed for Children.

We really need to celebrate the capacity of orchestra musicians who live in Australia: their willingness to tackle difficult music – with far too little rehearsal time; an undaunted enthusiasm for the task of finding their musical way through a barrage of notes, rhythms, dynamics and endlessly shifting tempi and, ultimately, their conviction that they can “pull it off” when the moment really counts – the concert!

We underestimate and under-appreciate orchestra musicians generally.  I believe this is true in most places in the world with very few exceptions. What is asked of them – in terms of the minutely exacting technical and artistic expectations  – is a continuing feat of human dexterity and skill-level that belies any general understanding of what they individually and collectively accomplish in the process of making music. Continue Reading →

Two Weeks Until ISV Festival

Briony_BuysBeing part of a Festival is always an enormous commitment by everyone involved.  The organizational logistics are enormous, complex and time consuming.  The upcoming Independent Schools Victoria, Arts Learning Festival kicks off in just under two weeks.

Our maestro too, is flying in from New York especially for the ADO’s special collaboration with the Festival to conduct two Australian premieres of two American symphonic works composed for younger audiences.

The first piece, Miranda’s Waltz, by Susan Kander is for narrator and orchestra.  The piece is about a small girl – aptly named ‘Miranda’ – who learns to navigate the big, wide world through the assistance of an even smaller mouse over three days visiting her local park.  Miranda starts out not very confident in dealing with the grown-up world but, by the end, with the help of mouse and her friends, has been shown not to be afraid and whilst little, she is so very capable!

Inside the park Miranda meets an assortment of characters including a kind and gentle old man (who feeds mouse his cheese whilst reading to him!) ducks, a tenacious cat, a noisy dog, and myriad grown-ups who enjoy the park with their young children.  There is also an amazing kite-flying sequence not to be missed!  It is delightful in every way.

Mouse_Park_Entrance

The last work on the concert is the remarkable Imaginary Symphony No. 1 by fellow New York composer, Anthony Piccolo.  As well as a very fine composer, Tony is also Director of Children’s Chorus at The Metropolitan Opera, a job that is infinitely demanding in one of the world’s great Opera houses.  His work is scored for large children’s chorus and orchestra.  The symphony is in three movements with chorus text drawn from a variety of well-known and unknown poetry.  I think my favorite text is from the second movement Scherzo (‘Explore’) warning the unwary: Continue Reading →

The 2017 Season Announced

Janine HanrahanHappy New Year to everyone – or “Auguri” as they say in Venice from where I am writing this post.

Today I have announced the preliminary concert schedule for the ADO’s 2017 season.  More details, including dates and venues to be announced shortly.  If you haven’t already seen it, tap here.

For the Season opening concert, we’re absolutely delighted to present Lisa Cheney’s evocative The Pool and the Star in a new version for symphony orchestra which the ADO will premiere.  The Pool and the Star, originally conceived for chamber orchestra, was first performed as part of the MSO’s Cybec program (under the direction of Brenton Broadstock) at the 2014 Metropolis New Music Festival.

The second work on the concert is the Sibelian-inspired second Symphony No. 2 ‘Romantic’ op. 30 by 20th-Century American composer, Howard Hanson (1896-1981).  Probably the best know of his seven symphonies, the work was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director Serge Koussevitsky in 1930 as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.

This symphony became the subject of some notoriety when one of its most haunting themes was used in the closing credits of the original Alien film without the composer’s consent – much to his displeasure.  It’s a marvelous work of great beauty and not performed nearly enough.

The second concert in our season is a 50-minute thrill ride through the  ultimate music of  ‘love, murder and betrayal’ captured in Giacomo Puccini’s operatic masterpiece, TOSCA.  Whereas we’d love to play all of the opera our concerts as you know are only 50 minutes long, so we’ve selected equally the most sensuous and gripping moments to perform for you.  But don’t worry, we’re also developing a new 3D immersive game environment around Tosca’s Rome – where the opera is set – for you to explore the complete story in your own time.  Our principal conductor, Kevin Purcell, is currently in Rome preparing the media assets for this exciting new audience engagement platform.

The 2017 season kicks off  on May 7 with a special version of the ADO performing as part of Independent Schools Victoria’s Arts Learning Festival (May 3- 7).  More information about this to be posted shortly.

Lastly, just to note, we are having major issues with our Facebook page and not able to access it properly.  Basically we can’t write any posts onto our timeline right now.  We don’t know how long this will take to resolve with the ever-charming and helpful folk at Facebook!

Enjoy the remainder of the Summer,

Janine

We Begin Where We Ended

By: Kevin Purcell

I am delighted to have been asked to write the first blog on the Australian Discovery Orchestra web site.  As the ADO has yet to give a performance to share, the closest thing we have is an excerpt from a 2010 concert given by the Tasmania Discovery Orchestra conducted by the late, Myer Fredman.

This is fitting in several ways. Most importantly it shows the work of the British-born Maestro, in the twilight of an extraordinary life – notably as one of the finest Opera conductors Australia has seen – as well as providing the merest of glimpses of his consumate artistry during the ‘Indian Summer’ of his musical life. Myer passed away on July 4, 2014. He was 82 years young.

Secondly, the footage shows the depth of individual and collective talent of Australian orchestral musicians – notably spanning several decades – who came together from all across Australia up to four times per year (and sometimes even more) to perform masterworks from the orchestral repertoire mixed in with additional concerts of the American Songbook. With few exceptions (excluding the cast of professional Opera singers highlighted in this video) none of the TDO’s instrumentalists were engaged in full-time musical activities. Their musical commitment and resultant efforts are truly wonderful to hear and watch.

In 2016, the Australian Discovery Orchestra will pick up from where its ‘heyday’ activities left off under its previous (but different) guise, in the full knowledge that an orchestra like the ADO is a very much needed enterprise in the artistic life of Australia. The difference five years on is that computer and Internet technologies have advanced to a degree that the ADO is now able do things which, for all intent and purposes, were previously impractical (even in 2010). Continue Reading →

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