Queensland Youth Symphony
Conductor: John Curro AM MBE
Cello Soloist: Oliver Scott
Richard Strauss - Don Juan
Camille Saint-Saens - Cello Concerto
Soloist: Oliver Scott (Principal Cellist QYS)
Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 12
Concert concludes at approx. 8.45pm.
NEW:Concert Review by Gary Thorpe
A wonderful evening of music making with the Queensland Youth Symphony conducted by John Curro. It was a challenging program – Don Juan by Richard Strauss, Saint Saens Cello Concerto and Shostakovick Symphony No 12 ‘The Year 1917’.
The concert opened with the Strauss. The orchestra rose to the challenge of this masterful composition with a spectacular performance beautifully paced by Maestro Curro. All sections of the orchestra acquitted themselves very well, revelling in the glorious sounds of youthful Strauss, but particular mention must be made of the horn section. Don Juan contains some of the most thrilling and most difficult writing for this section and they delivered the sweeping melody that characterises the work with consummate ease. The performance was greeted with huge applause and cheers – a great start to the concert.
In an interview on 4MBS Classic FM heard on the morning of the concert, Oliver Scott,the soloist for the Saint Saens Cello Concerto, said that he didn’t like the work at first. He went on to say that it only started to appeal to him when he got to play the whole work. It is indeed an unusual Cello Concerto for the Romantic period – the orchestra is relatively small but the writing creates a fine balance between soloist and the ensemble. The orchestra accompanied very sensitively, never overwhelming the cello. Oliver gave a very committed performance and engaged well with the other players so that the whole piece was very cohesive. A thoroughly delightful performance.
After interval, the Shostakovich 12th Symphony composed in 1961, the year that the Berlin Wall was built. The title ‘The Year 1917’ relates the music to the turbulent happenings of the Russian Revolution, honouring the memory of Lenin, with movements of the work assigned names such as ‘Revolutionary Petrograd’ and ‘Dawn of Humanity’. Whether this helps with the enjoyment of the music is debatable. It is a turbulent work with plenty of opportunities for the orchestra to display their skill and enthusiasm which they certainly did, giving us a rousing rendition. The symphony is sometimes denigrated as being rather bombastic but the Queensland Youth Symphony under the direction of John Curro lifted the work above such accusations. The performance again showed the skills of the various sections of the orchestra to great effect. Again, cheers from the audience for a stirring performance.
A throroughly enjoyable night in the Concert Hall.
General Manager 4MBS Classic FM
Concert Review by Patricia Kelly
QUEENSLAND Youth Symphony players were all vim and vigor for Don Juan, the opening concert of the 2012 season that includes a concert tour to international northern regions.
Being the first concert of the year, it was a `settling-in` experience for players making their debut with QYS as graduating players who have completed their membership departed.
Conductor John Curro does not hold back when it comes to choosing repertoire for his charges. Richard Strauss, Camille Saint-Saëns and Dmitry Shostakovich are not for the faint hearted, and even though we have become accustomed to the way the young players rise to such challenges, it is always a wonder and a thrill to witness their response anew. They just get better and better.
This opening concert for 2012 was a cracker of a program and was performed accordingly. The Strauss tone poem Don Juan began with brisk, clean playing. The musicians meant business. From the breathless opening to the piercing trumpet call and fiery close, they uncovered the emotions represented in the romantic narrative, the longing, tenderness, the passion and finally debauchery and disgust.
Oliver Scott was a confident soloist in the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No 1 in A Minor. With violins and violas, he delivered the vigorous opening statement with firm strokes, never loosening the tension as this velvety music developed in a continuous stream, a taut design of musical ideas.
Scott`s easy style linked interrelated themes with eloquent flowing tones, as Curro balanced his forces with exemplary care, shaping the music, highlighting, shading, creating nuance and mood as playful elements morphed to serious matter. Scott maintained command of his unfolding melodic images, plunging to the cello`s rich depths, soaring to its extreme heights with technical grace.
Critics are not always kind to Shostakovich, but as a wit once noted, nobody has erected a monument to a critic. True enough, and many a great work has survived unkind critical cuts to rise in popularity. Like a good pudding where the elements are simple, the mixing is masterly and the proof is in the eating, this symphony centred on the composer`s ambivalent attitude towards Soviet leader Lenin, provided much opportunity for QYS players to stretch their orchestral muscles, and they did.
There was plenty to exercise their imaginative skills. The performance became a charged, potent force, with all sections of the orchestra alert to the drama, full of foreboding as it built layer upon powerful layer into a huge kaleidoscope of emotional expression. Subtle textures gave way to explosive orchestral colors and effects, simple melodic building blocks that Shostakovich moulded into monumental musical grandeur.
The playing was intense and coherent. Curro did not seem to, or need to fuss, yet he kept it firmly unified, highlighted by stunning ensemble and solo moments, from French horn and timpanist in particular. Engaging and exciting, it was one of the best performances Curro has drawn from this orchestra. It crowns his years of service to this, and other orchestras internationally, proving that the honors that have been heaped on him for his dedicated work, are well deserved.
The communications media will relish troubled youth, yet here is a big band of dedicated young people doing extraordinary things, making musical wonders right in our midst, with minor recognition. Queensland, be proud of QYS. - Patricia Kelly
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About the Concert
The 2012 Queensland Youth Symphony Concert Series begins with Richard Strauss’s masterpiece, Don Juan. A musical portrait of that great Spanish philanderer, it is one of Strauss’s most exciting creations.
QYS Principal Cellist Oliver Scott performs the inspiring Cello Concerto by French composer Saint-Saëns, prior to performances with QYS in Germany in July 2012.
A highlight of the concert is the mighty 12th Symphony of Shostakovich, dark, powerful and full of drama.
John Curro AM MBE, Conductor
John Curro AM MBE is both the founder and Director of Music for Queensland Youth Orchestras (QYO), conducting the Queensland Youth Symphony since its beginning in 1966. He is in demand as a conductor and tutor for professional and youth orchestras and festivals.
Mr Curro has conducted many of Australia’s professional orchestras as well as many opera and ballet seasons. His guest conducting appearances include the London Virtuosi, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Australian and Bavarian Youth Orchestra, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Throughout his distinguished career, Mr Curro has received many prestigious awards including Member of the Order of Australia and Member of the British Empire. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Queensland and Griffith University, Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow Award, the Australian Music Centre (Qld) Award, the Don Banks Music Award, the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award, the Orchestras Australia Lifetime Achievement Award and the Queensland Premier’s Millenium Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Oliver Scott, Cello Soloist
Oliver Scott is a student at the School of Music in the University of Queensland, studying cello with Patrick Murphy.
His previous concerto performances include Lalo Cello Concerto with Queensland Youth Symphony and Elgar Cello Concerto with Orchestra “Corda Spiritus”. In 2011 Oliver was prize winner of the “Sleath String Prize”, the highest award for string players at the University of Queensland, performing Shostakovich Cello Sonata. He was also an award recipient at the South East Concerto Competition performing Dvorak Cello Concerto.
Oliver’s current professional engagements include an augmenting position with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, acceptance into both the Melbourne and Tasmania Symphony Orchestra’s fellowship programs, and regular engagements with the Sydney Sinfonia.
He is heavily involved in chamber playing. In 2011, his string quartet was the winner of the Sid Page Memorial Chamber Prize. As a result, the quartet was given a performance at the Musica Viva function hosted by composer Carl Vine.
Oliver began cello studies at the age of ten. Under Mei-Lee Stocker’s tutelage he received his A.mus.A with “Distinction” in 2007, and his L.mus.A with “Award” in 2009.
Other teachers and mentors Oliver is indebted to are David Lale, Kejia Wang, John Curro, Robert Manley and Sergei Korschmin.