Queensland Youth Symphony
Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra conducted by Kevin Field
Old Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane, Australia
Friday 14 December 2012
Concert Review by Patricia Kelly
IF Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and all who proclaim Australia`s place in Asia wished to see this commitment in action, then they should have been in Brisbane to witness cultural ties strengthened at the performance by the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in a concert hosted by Queensland Youth Orchestras at the Old Museum Concert Hall.
If ever there was an occasion when the meaning behind an event was as significant as the outcome of the event itself, then this concert was it. Daniel Barenboim did it with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra uniting musicians from Israel and Arab countries. Now in a program that balanced two major works from the Western classical canon with two pieces highlighting Asian forms, these young Malaysian musicians showed how music can be a powerful and vital link across cultural and racial boundaries.
If only the pollies shared the awe-inspiring moment, truly an example of how people in this wild world of ours have so much in common. If only we opened our eyes and ears to the little miracles happening in organisations such as our own Queensland Youth Symphony that performed with the orchestra during its international tour in mid-2012, and hosted this MPYO concert with support from companies from both countries.
As 16-year-old pianist Kenric Taylor gave Grieg`s Piano Concerto in A Minor a great kick start with confident, powerful finger work, the orchestra was taking tentative steps and a little time to settle the music on a smooth trajectory. It stepped forward boldly, but then let the momentum slack, until conductor Kevin Field smoothed the textures and pulled it together.
With the budding virtuosic spark of Taylor`s strong delivery, and clear, confident solo playing among orchestral sections, Field sharpened the essence of Grieg`s compelling music to take it to a striking close to earn an enthusiastic audience response that seemed to fire up the young players for the remaining items.
Bertabuh Kala Senja`s composition, Drumming at Dusk, set a different pace. Against a background of beating drums and gongs, it wove contrapuntal layers and cluster harmonies into flickering, rhythmic patterns. For the composer, the music was assimilating Eastern and Western musical idioms as representations of time passing from night to day, of life unfolding in gentle ripples. The MPYO players relished the opportunity to exhibit sounds and idioms from their own cultural medium.
Adeline Wong used bolder strokes for her composition Ria! It is strong stuff, a potent blend of east and west, and like Drumming at Dusk, it takes in piano tones as it surges forward. The word `ria` means `happy`, and while the celebratory colours were obvious in her vigorous music, the `boiling timpani and explosive drums` gave the exuberance a hint of menace underlying the jovial intention, informing the configurations of sharp percussion, sustained strings, flutes, muted trumpets.
Shostakovich`s Symphony No 5 in D Minor Opus 47 did not daunt these young players. The symphony had restored the composer to Soviet approval after several rejections of his work. The miracle of Shostakovich was that he could bounce back after the political disgrace that befell him when he upset his Soviet masters, forcing him to conform to official edicts or suffer the consequences, not the most favourable conditions in which a creative soul can thrive. But he did.
That was all a long time ago. Another time. Another place. Far removed from the environment that nurtured this Malaysian band. And yet, so well did conductor Field direct and form this music that the players seemed to grasp its spirit as their own. They opened the symphony right on the edge of its drama, with conviction and confidence. Beautiful solo flute playing. The fairground music swaggered with all the impulse of Shostakovich in full satirical flight. A grand display from the tiny timpanist resounded ahead of the shimmering restraint of the largo.
Field excelled in creating the hushed mood of this evocative slow movement, an intense unity of vibrant string sound, expressive oboe solo, exquisite pianissimo work , taut and unified before the final allegro movement exploded into a burnished sheen of sound, building up and up, intense and rhythmical. Then back to a hush (they do hush very well). It was the quiet before the throbbing march to compelling close of a symphony that offers much opportunity for nuance and subtlety, for light and shade. The MPYO (with a sprinkling of QYS augmenting players) grasped every one of them to give a performance bristling with life.
28 May Romantic Impressions - Review by Patricia Kelly
WHAT a difference twenty-nine years can make. That is all that separated the birth dates of Johannes Brahms (born 1833) and Claude Debussy (1862), yet in that brief time span music changed so utterly, from the romantic fullness of Brahms` “Violin Concerto in D major opus 77”` to the musical “impressions” of Spain in festive mood in “Images for Orchestra No 2 - Ibéria” from Debussy, two examples that were included in this program.
And what a great title for this concert presented by our Queensland Youth Symphony. Romantic Impressions. It combines all the flavours that were blended with skill in the music, and its performance. The limpid impressions of “Daphnis and Chloé - Suite No 2” by Maurice Ravel and the glimpses of modern popular forms in “Pop Culture Parody” by young local composer-on-the-rise Joseph Twist, completed this menu.
Another young Australian artist, Kristian Winther, was soloist in the Brahms concerto, a confident performer who brought much of his own musicianship and personality to the music. For a time, the lengthy orchestral introduction lumbered heavily, lacking the affirmative stride needed to herald the soloist. In the nick of time it changed pace to prepare with a stronger momentum for the solo violin`s positive entry.
Yet no sooner was the violin on its legato way, than the soaring passages were swamped, which was not such a big deal perhaps, because the violinist Joseph Joachim who premiered the work suggested his friend Brahms lighten the orchestration in places. Gradually Kristian`s exquisite violin tone, albeit a tad lightweight for this big work, surged with a glowing warmth towards a free spirited cadenza. There was a time when a cadenza was seen as a moment of personal exploitation that pandered to a virtuoso`s vanity, but if you have something to communicate in a personal way, then go ahead and sing your song. This audience was up for it.
The adagio began with a melifluous oboe supported by quiet woodwind. Winther took an introspective position, spinning gossamer melody, a model of restraint and understatement. It was the quiet before the vitality of the allegro giocoso where Winther took the arpeggio figures with agility and ease. The orchestra played a cautious game but it did not curb the soloist`s exuberance. He leaped forward, living and loving every moment and every note.
The two French works exhuding the moods of Impressionism provided special challenges for these young players, which is to be expected for an orchestra-in-training. The Debussy score is very busy, re-creating impressions in sound of a Spanish festival, brisk, strongly rhythmic. The trick is to meld these sound colours with a smooth finish as the elements slipped from light to shadow, not attained here with complete success, although the violins playing and plucking like guitarists really lifted the spirit wonderfully.
From an audience perspective, the Ravel suite that followed was almost too much of the same. True, it was sensuous rather than glittering with exotic sounds. It was telling a romantic tale rather than describing a jolly revelry. This canvas was of softer but deeper hues, restful and dreamlike. We heard wonderful images of flutes fluttering the break of day, a rapturous development with delicate touches of solo instruments, and felt the rhapsodic atmosphere.
Perhaps it could have preceded rather than follow the Debussy, where the spinning polyphony would have pointed back to and rounded off a program that opened with Joseph Twist`s “Parody” on another cultural moment, another generation, another time.
Did Twist really imagine his pop music pastiche as a parody? It is a word with multiple nuances of meaning and it certainly did not come over as having sprung from any of those negative inferences - a caricature, a mockery, travesty, poor imitation, send-up, and so on. And if he were taking it as a humorous yet exaggerated imitation, I don`t think he was doing himself justice either.
The words “pop culture” also conjure up a series of squeaks, squeals and booms from a rock scene, but nothing like that happened. It was a skilful blend of motifs from a bygone age, but a very honorable, respectful one. And like the Debussy soundscape, Twist`s piece also slips in and out of melodies faintly familiar. Now you hear it. Now you don`t. You hear a solid orchestral tinge - of Gershwin? Romantic strings swirl. Is that flicker of “With a Song in my Heart”? Or “Some Enchanted Evening”, or “When I Fall in Love”, “Tea for Two”? Or is the imagination playing tricks and Twist is sounding a different drum entirely?
`Lady Gaga,` the composer mentions in his (elaborate) program note. Sorry, Joseph. Heard of her but not really listened nor absorbed her style. It doesn`t matter. It is jolly good writing that keeps the listener plugged into all the wondrous things composers can spin with just the few notes representing the black and white notes of an octave scale on the piano. A miracle? They are all miracles. So is this orchestra, half of which is renewed each year with a new batch of players keenly taking the place of departing graduates who must take those wonderful notes and memories with them throughout the lives. `Romantic Impressions` only says the half of it.
28 May Romantic Impressions - by Margaret McNamara
Having to miss one of the QYS subscription concerts left me feeling quite deprived, so imagine the pleasure of receiving a recording in the mail of Passion and Romance, their program performed in QPAC Concert Hall on Saturday 28th May with conductor John Curro and violin soloist Kristian Winther. Nothing can quite make up for the thrill of seeing those young enthusiasts in action, but it has proved an interesting experience to write about their recorded performance.
It was a world premiere that began the program with composer Joseph Twist’s overture Pop Culture Parody. In a few short minutes the audience would have recognised the QYS and its conductor in very good form as Twist’s music called on them to be dramatic and jazzy, then reflective and serene, then quite nostalgic. With the composer’s background including vocal, instrumental, jazz and film music, there was a happy match between his composition and the youthful zest of the orchestra.
Violinist Kristian Winther has described Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major as his favourite which he has been preparing for many years, and this was the occasion that he felt quite ready to perform it. How rewarding for John Curro to be able to look back to 2000 when this young performer, having just won QYO’s National Youth Concerto Competition, played the Sibelius Violin Concerto in a concert with QYS. Since then Winther’s career as a violinist with orchestras and in chamber groups has blossomed and now he joins every famous fiddler with Brahms’ Concerto in his repertoire. The audience heard a very confident performance of what is acknowledged as fiendishly difficult music, the first and third movements energetic, even rugged, with the adagio a beautifully silky contrast. With his mentor in charge of the orchestra, the young soloist must have felt that things could not have been better for his first public performance of the Brahms.
The second half of the program allowed the orchestra to create vivid musical pictures as they performed two early twentieth century French masterpieces. Debussy’s Iberia from his Images for orchestra is a three-part colourful evocation of the feelings and impressions aroused by Spain. Suite No2 of Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel, one of two derived from the ballet music written for Diaghilev, opens with a wonderful musical sunrise and develops into an energetic bacchanalia. They both call on large and varied instrumental resources and, in typical fashion, the orchestra seemed to relish the challenge of creating the impressionistic tonal colour and atmosphere in both works.
Debussy wrote in 1900, “ It is unnecessary for music to make people think….. it would be enough if it made them listen.” I’m sure my recording of Passion and Romance with QYS, John Curro and Kristian Winther will provide me with many great listening experiences.
26 March 2011 - Organ Symphony - by Patricia Kelly
Serge Prokofiev`s The Love for Three Oranges, Allan Zavod`s Concerto for Oboe and Symphony No 3 in C minor: Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns formed an excellent program to open Queensland Youth Symphony`s 2011 season at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre Concert Hall in Brisbane.
Factor in two of Queensland`s most outstanding talents, Diana Doherty as soloist in the oboe concerto and organist Christopher Wrench in the Saint-Saëns, and a night of great music-making was assured.
Conductor John Curro knows his charges well enough to allay fears that for this first concert of the year, when at least one-third of the players are making their debut with the orchestra, something might go amiss with such a challenging program.
But they were all in fine form, probably one of the strongest `firsts` among the many over the years. Under Curro`s attentive direction, it was delivered in all its brilliant, vibrant musical color and contrasts as the novices playing slotted seamlessly into smooth orchestral textures.
The Prokofiev was a great starter, music full of dramatic narrative and orchestral colours that appeal both to audience and to the young players who seemed to respond intuitively to its firecracker imagery. It helped settle nerves before the Zavod concerto. This substantial piece, a new commission from QYS and dedicated “to the resilience of the people of Queensland during the 2011 floods,“ made demands of a different kind. It was a music creation one might expect from a composer who combines a background as jazz pianist with educational work as lecturer in classical-jazz fusion and as a Research Fellow at Monash University.
Its sharp rhythms were perfect for these musicians and they seemed to move into the groove with ease, in spite of the difficulties it presented in shaping the mercurial modes into a unity. The multilayered opening glistened with rippling sounds, a fitting setting for the restless energy bubbling under the surface layers. Those energies broke free when little hints of jazz began to bob here and there throughout the orchestra.
A piano sounded like it was all happening in a jazz bar. Woodwind followed suit. Solo oboe offered simple statements until it all burst into a moto perpetuo pastiche. Doherty slipped through intricate runs, fiendish scales with an insouciance that only a virtuoso of her calibre could deliver.
Then the oboe settled into the well-named tranquillo movement, a reverie of music beautifully written to establish the peace. It gave a flutter, a momentary buzz, before returning to rhapsodic mode, reflective, easy listening. If you were weary enough it would have been a lullaby.
Jazz and classical melded in the playful yet frantic third movement. Here Doherty again showed her mettle in an almost non-stop, breathtaking display of bravura playing. Extraordinary breath control supported the liquid flow of warm, bell-clear oboe tones.
She was fearless in the race as the orchestral momentum built, so cool, so suave, so jolly as she caught the snappy jazz beat pulsing relentlessly towards her dazzling cadenza and the notes that soared to a glowing grand finale.
It was a fitting middle course between the Prokofiev and the might of the Saint-Saëns. It has been claimed that Saint-Saëns lacked imaginative power and musical individuality, yet even if he is working over older forms, he makes those forms say new and wondrous things. No matter how often you hear this organ symphony, its intricacies never cease to thrill anew.
Christopher Wrench showed his mastery of this instrument, bringing a rich spectrum of sound colors from the Klais organ that were powerful and subtle in turn, whether in pulsating chords or triumphant edges to the combined orchestral power. When the organ enters with the deeply, throaty growl that paves the way for the mood of anticipation and the eeriness of the pizzicato figures in the strings, then rises to such heights of power in the finale, it becomes one of the grandest musical ascents in the canon. Wrench certainly achieved this great height.
Curro is a whiz at balancing the orchestral sections. Just as he never let the combined sound overwhelm the oboe in Zavod`s concerto, he kept a clear grip on this multi- faceted this work. Brass and woodwind sections were crisp and secure, and although strings have yet to acquire that mature, burnished glow that comes only with time and growth, the playing was fresh, precise and of one heart.
Through all the quivering images, its expressive phrasing breathed intelligently with carefully applied light and shade. QYS players had many musical stories to tell in this varied program and they told them all with engaging conviction. - Patricia Kelly
26 March 2011 - Organ Symphony - by Barbara Hebden
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- The Queensland Youth Symphony (QYS) may be young in years, but bears a mark of maturity, both in musicianship and artistry. The QYS can confidently claim to equal the world best of its kind. A few blemishes did nothing to detract from overall music-making.
Under John Curro’s disciplined direction, the QYS opened its second concert this year with Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges Symphonic Suite, a challenge to any orchestra. Since he founded QYS 45 years ago, John Curro has guided this young ensemble to its present high standard.
A highlight of this performance was the exciting, vital playing of soloist Diana Doherty in Allan Zavod’s Oboe Concerto, dedicated to the resilience of the people of Queensland during 2011 floods. This work is a challenge to both orchestra and soloist. Doherty’s splendid performance combined eloquently tranquil passages with rhythmic buoyancy that captures the many moods of this imaginative work. This demanding program concluded with the Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3 (Organ Symphony), allowing soloist Chrisopher Wrench the opportunity to exploit the huge range of registration in which he excels.
I believe this to be one of the best concerts the QYS has given, and every opportunity must be provided for maestro Curro and his orchestra to travel to Europe next year.
26 March 2011 - Organ Symphony - by Margaret McNamara
The excitement of a QYS concert starts well before the music begins. There is a different feel in the foyer as an audience of younger brothers and sisters of Youth Symphony members, their parents, young friends and grandparents mingle with the many music lovers who wouldn’t miss a chance to hear QYS play in the Concert Hall.
On Saturday night there was a triple treat in store. The concert began with Prokofiev’s ballet suite of The Love for Three Oranges, the major orchestral work was Symphony No 3, the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saëns, and, between these two, the absolute highlight of a world premiere of Allan Zavod’s Oboe Concerto performed by Diana Doherty, the special guest whom the orchestra had invited to play with them for their first 2011 concert.
When the orchestra began playing the Prokofiev it signalled that it was well and truly up to the challenge of this hyperactive, often raucous music (in Parts 1 & 2). Prokofiev’s opera, from which he compiled this suite, was meant to send up grand opera and its absurd burlesque-style story fits the spiky tunes, the cheeky March (3) and the frantic Scherzo and Flight (4&6). The orchestra seemed to relish all this, but it also easily produced, as a contrast in the fifth part, the plaintive notes and dreamy violins for Le Prince et La Princesse.
Next, the audience was treated not only to a world premiere, but also to a world standard performance from the remarkable Diana Doherty. Allan Zavod has written a Concerto for Oboe, titled Resilient Spirit and dedicated it to the people of Queensland during the 2011 floods. Most appropriate then that it was this great Queensland musician, herself once a member of Queensland Youth Orchestras, who performed the work written specially for her and the QYS. Allan Zavod is both composer and educator in the field of Classical-Jazz Fusion so the work is a challenge for both soloist and orchestra, combining the classical and jazz worlds. Some phrases from the composer’s program notes may help describe the experience. In the first movement the oboe soloist introduces “the heroic main theme”, “embarks on many adventures, playing with and against the orchestra and conversing with various families and individual members”. In fact at times Diana seems to morph before the audience’s eyes into the solo oboe in a jazz quartet with “the jazz rhythm section of piano, bass and drums”. The second movement “sets a tranquil scene immersed in melodic and harmonic beauty” with “challenging moments for the oboe to create smooth-flowing phrasing” – all this “over an impassioned dynamic range of crescendos and decrescendos in the orchestra”. An understatement is that the Scherzo “rollicks along from start to finish”! “At a relentless pace” it is nimble notes all the way, including the amazing solo cadenza, returning towards the end to “the heroic main theme”. There certainly was a triumphant fanfare to end the piece and after it the applause and standing ovation said it all. The audience had seen and heard a soloist of exceptional skill and the composition also revealed the talents of all sections of the orchestra.
After interval there came another chance to admire and appreciate the young musicians and their conductor. Sustained concentration and physical energy lasting for forty minutes is required for the Symphony, and only towards the end of the Adagio was there a suspicion of their being a little ‘out of sync’. The Organ Symphony is on a grand scale, with the organ being used as an orchestral, not as a solo, instrument. So the organist Christopher Wrench appeared as an augmenting player in the orchestra list, but his presence added to the occasion. It is known that Saint-Saëns was influenced by the innovative compositional techniques of Liszt to whose memory he dedicated this symphony. Audiences respond to this work, with its range of moods, from the beginning; in the first half recognising the familiar basic theme, then enjoying the beautiful Adagio where quiet organ tones support the lyrical strings. The Scherzo which begins the second half is lively again, incorporating piano sequences; and then in the Presto/ Maestoso the organ’s full voice comes in with triumphant chords played against the orchestra, various sections and soloists featuring. What an optimistic way to end the concert!
The next concert in the QYS series is to be held in QPAC Concert Hall on Saturday 28 May.
Recommended highly! - Margaret McNamara
IN QYO concerts, it can be what is not expressed just as much as what is that gives occasions like this an exhilarating edge. The colossal sound-making potential is like a presence forever waiting for an opportunity to strike out. The anticipation that, at the first green light from conductor John Curro, the QYO will spring, roaring into the space like a wild, savage lion, is exciting. Curro’s management and containment of this talented massed voice and at what point he will unleash its might is a source of theatrical tension.
Last week, the widow of British composer William Walton died. Coincidentally, the first item on the program was Portsmouth Point, her husband’s youthful portrait that is stashed with nautical references. It was easy in this snazzy performance to imagine a bustling port with a newly arrived cargo ship of sailors, circling seagulls and joyful family reunions. The seafaring busyness of jagged tunes bouncing across sections with biting off-beats, the odd hornpipe jingle and jazzy off-cuts impressed. The confidently executed, but tricky stretched and shifting timeframes, were a measure of the warm synergy that exists between Curro and his vast instrumental team.
As for programming, the choice of the Lipman harp duo added interest because the harp is rarely heard in a solo guise. The accomplished Suo and Sebastien Lipman, so popular with the crowd, were involved in two performances - JS Bach’s Concerto for Two Harps and Strings and Maciej Malecki’s Concerto in an Ancient Style. Of these showpieces, the Malecki was the most coherent and the sparkling exchanges between harp and strings flowed effortlessly.
It was in Elgar’s Second Symphony in E flat that at times the glowing orchestral sound seemed to smile with pride. Like many youth orchestras, the QYO is in its element when growing sound, playing at peak volumes and nailing tough challenges. The players gave a strong account of this blockbuster.
Gillian Bramley-Moore, Courier Mail, 30th March 2010. QYS Concert ‘Passionate Pilgrimage’ on 27 March, QPAC Concert Hall.
Under John Curro, the Queensland Youth Orchestra has been the fertile ground from which so many of this state’s most talented musicians have grown. The QYO is one of this state’s most important cultural assets. Countless numbers of QYO alumni now perform in orchestras in Australia and throughout the world. One of the ways in which maestro Curro has helped their development has been through his choice of program - he has never shied away from the big, complex, challenging works. This was certainly the case in this concert.
The Elgar Symphony No 2 is not well known Elgar - it has been overshadowed by the more popular and, indeed, more accessible Symphony No 1. Composed in 1911, the second symphony is a work which benefits from a robust performance and this is exactly what the QYO provided. Their powerful, energetic playing held my attention from start to finish. In fact, it was the most enjoyable performance of this work I’ve heard. The opening movement was full of energy with an exciting ending played with great skill by the orchestra. The slow movement was beautifully measured - a solemn, moving, funeral march. This was followed by the lively and innovative rondo sounding very modern for the beginning of the 20th century. It was played with great commitment. The final movement brought back the motif from the first movement, the symphony ending in a peaceful mood. Such performances allow one to rediscover these major works. I’ll bring out my CD for another listen now that my enthusiasm for the work has been rekindled by this outstanding QYO performance.
The concert opened with a work by another British composer - William Walton - his Portsmouth Point. The music depicts the busy port on the coast of southern England. It’s full of energy and movement and the QYO did a great job in conveying the mood of the place and handled the meter changes and syncopated tunes very well.
The orchestra was reduced in size for the two concertos on the program with the Lipman Harp Duo. The Concertino in an Ancient Style for Two Harps by Maciej Malecki was an instantly appealing work, well written for the harps, allowing then to stand out from the orchestra. Sayo & Sebastien Lipman made this piece a joy to hear. It was composed in 1988 and shows that contemporary composers can write great tunes in works designed for sheer enjoyment.
The Lipmans also performed Bach’s Concerto for Two Harps & Strings in C minor, BWV 1060. The work follows the model of Vivaldi’s concertos which were greatly admired by Bach. The piece survived as an arrangement for two harpsichords and it sits well for the harps - indeed, the blending of the harps with the orchestra is masterful. The Lipman Harp Duo presented a fine and polished performance.
Overall, it was a great night of music.
Garry Thorpe, Radio 4MBS Classic FM, Queensland Youth Symphony concert at QPAC, 27 March 2010
…Jayson Gillham’s return to his native Queensland with the Queensland Youth Symphony (QYS) hit a resounding note of success with the audience which was enthralled from start to finish by a program which included a birthday surprise, a first for the conductor (John Curro) and Gillham’s performance of the Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor by Tchaikovsky. Pianist Jayson Gillham is currently based in London where he’s had several successes… The audience was in raptures after his powerful and fiery third movement which contrasted nicely with his gentle touch and sensitivity in the second - the andantino semplice.
Fern Ong, Radio 4MBS Classic FM, Queensland Youth Symphony concert at QPAC, 2 August 2009
…A youth orchestra which plays Mahler 1 is nothing new. But a youth orchestra which totally astonishes the audience with their elan and compelling and richly contrasted performance in a work such as this, is literally unheard of. There were long stretches of time during which one completely forgot that this was a youth orchestra and not one of the French or German professional orchestras performing.
Music Critic, Composer & Pianist Peter Visser on 2008 QYS international tour concert in Strasbourg, 6 July 2008.
[QYS] impressed with great precision… The major work on the program was Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. The work is difficult to play and its fame encourages comparison with other interpretations. The young Australians, however, had nothing to fear from comparisons. Their rendition was on a professional level. From the first to the last bar, the orchestra delivered a convincing, high voltage performance with beautiful solo contributions…
Music Critic Uwe Engel on 2008 QYS international tour concert in Speyer, 4 July 2008.
Conductor, John Curro, shaped an opening movement of turmoil and drama, with all sections of the QYS responding brilliantly to demands made of them … This demanding program concluded in a blaze of glory with the QYS giving its all in Respighi’s tone poem Pines of Rome, a work it loves to play and plays brilliantly… The Pines of Rome became very real and alive in Curro’s musical creation of such great spectacle. The QYS gets better and better…
Music Critic Barbara Hebden on Pines & Prokofiev, 2 June 2007.
They may be young in years but the musical maturing of the members of the Queensland Youth Symphony Orchestra is quite amazing.
Music Critic Barbara Hebden after Mozart & Mahler, 31 March 2007.
The expressive magnitude of the Holst collection gave opportunity to display the blazing musical colours for which the QYS is renowned.
Music Critic Patricia Kelly on the 40th Anniversary Spectacular Concert, 23 December 2006.
Collectively, they created the largest orchestral ensemble experienced in Brisbane in recent memory and the most memorable music-making since QYO mustered a similar orchestra to celebrate John Curro’s 70th birthday in December 2002 … In more ways than one, the Queensland Youth Orchestra movement has set the bar for orchestral playing in this state.
Music Critic Vincent Plush on the 40th Anniversary Spectacular Concert, 23 December 2006.
What moves me most of all … is the incredible care that you and all of the players have taken with the music. The accuracy that you have brought to every tempo, every ensemble balance, every melodic gesture and every tone colour is uniformly excellent.
Carl Vine on the September 9 QYS performance of his Symphony No.2, 7 November 2006.
Youthful triumph - The two major Russian works performed at the Queensland Youth Symphony concert were apt choices to mark the opening of the 2005 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition honouring this Russian Piano virtuoso. QYS finished in triumph at the Great Gate of Kiev, Professor Vlassenko would have been thrilled.
The Courier Mail, 8 August 2005.
Tim Freedman of rock band The Whitlams says the Queensland Youth Orchestra is ‘the best youth orchestra in Australia’. ‘They’re brilliant and handle anything that the symphony orchestras can’ he said.
The Courier Mail, 5 September 2004.
QYS is in the top handful of youth orchestras in the world….they are world class.
Conductor Sean O’Boyle, The Courier Mail, 5 September 2004.
From the moment the Queensland Youth Symphony entered the Keilberth Hall, the public was sure to remember the event with pleasure. It was due to the impressive performance that would not easily be forgotten, both because of the beautiful repertoire and the arresting interpretation.
Under the experienced leadership of John Curro, who has directed the orchestra for the last 37 years, the talented young players inspired the audience members. The youth orchestra played these [works] professionally in so many respects: dynamic and precise, homogeneous and colourful.
For the musical performance, which could be described with complete justification as “first class”, there was even a standing ovation at the end.
Frankischer Tag, Forcheim, Germany, 8 July 2004.
Conductor John Curro set an ambitious program to open Queensland Youth Symphony’s 2004 season… Respighi has always been a strong suit for QYS and this performance of his Fountains of Rome was no exception. Powerful images drew an exciting response before the music ebbed to its pensive close.
The Courier Mail, 22 March 2004.
For the best orchestral playing in town, go hear your local youth orchestra. For consistently good playing, enthusiasm and exhilarating edge-of-the-seat music-making, these youngsters often outclass their jaded professional colleagues. This is certainly the case in Brisbane…
The Australian, 22 March 2004.
Radiating superb tonal quality, all players accentuated the jagged rhythms and the reiteration of the opening material. An electrifying performance.
The Courier Mail, 12 August 2003.
The QYO’s performance of The Firebird was dazzling. The interpretation scaled a diverse emotional range but the intensity and the momentum never wavered. Brimming with character and vitality the instrumental solos throughout the orchestra were impressive.
The Courier Mail, 9 June 2003.
John Curro’s Queensland Youth Symphony never ceases to amaze with its mature, polished playing of the big symphonic repertoire.
The Sunday Mail, 29 Dec 2002.
Close your eyes and you could be hearing some of the great orchestras of our time.
The Courier-Mail, review of QYS concert on, 24 Mar 2002.
The crowning glory of the afternoon was a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams “Job, a Masque for Dancing” by the Queensland Youth Symphony conducted by John Curro.
Hobart Mercury, 15 Dec 2001, New World Festival of Australian State Youth Orchestras.
If there is a better youth orchestra in Australia than the Queensland Youth Symphony, I would like to hear it playing Carl Vine’s Celebrare Celeberrime, Symphony No. 6 by Prokofiev, Bassoon Concerto in F major (Weber) and Respighi’s Pines of Rome. In this program for its first subscription concert for 2001, the QYS was in vigorous form under conductor John Curro’s strong exacting direction.
The Courier-Mail, review of concert on, 9 April 2001.
It is as good a youth orchestra, if not better, than I have ever played with.
Lord Yehudi Menuhin, World Expo 1988, after a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with QYS.
If the first concert in the Masterpiece Series for 2000 was any indication, this year is shaping up to be one of the best, if not the best, for QYS.
The Courier-Mail, review of concert on 25 March 2000.
An electric performance of Prokofiev’s delightful and graphic Romeo & Juliet Suite completed an exhilarating programme.
The Courier-Mail, review of concert on 20 March 1999.
…Queensland’s musical youth did a magnificent job.
The Australian, review of concert on 28 March 1998.
QYS’ playing of Symphony No. 11 by Shostakovich was one of the best if not THE best symphonic performance in Brisbane so far this year - and it is unlikely to be topped.
The Courier-Mail, review of concert on 16 August 1997.
The decision to hold back the Queensland Youth Orchestra until all the orchestras had been heard is likely to have been taken in the expectation or knowledge that this Australian orchestra would prove to be the best of those participating in Aberdeen’s Festival. The best it most certainly is.
International Festival of Youth Orchestras, Aberdeen, Friday August 15 1980.
…the best youth orchestra in Australia and one of the leading youth orchestras in the world. This is surely the reward of the permanent conductor, John Curro, who has taken charge of the orchestra since its foundation. His achievement cannot be valued highly enough.
Hamelin, Germany, August 26 1980.