Queensland Youth Symphony

PINES OF ROME

 

Saturday 22 September 2012 7pm QPAC Concert Hall

Conductor: John Curro AM MBE

Soloists: Graeme Jennings and Yoko Okayasu


Concert Program

Vaughan Williams - Job: A Masque for Dancing

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Sinfonia Concertante

Ottorino Respighi - Pines of Rome

 

 

NEW: Concert Review

TWO explosive music sagas surrounding a calm, stylish centrepiece formed an ideal program for this final 2012 concert given by Queensland Youth Symphony, fresh from its 12th international concert tour to Asia and Europe in July. Australia could not have had better ambassadors nor exemplars of what our country is about and what its youth can achieve.

Job - A Masque for Dancing by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi, Mozart`s Sinfonia Concertante gave ample scope for artistic expression within a wide range of orchestral styles and colours. Some might quibble with a collection so heavily laden with program music, an often denigrated compositional style supposed to rely on image or narrative rather than standing on its own feet as `absolute` form. Take that argument to its logical conclusion, then Mozart would never have created some of the greatest operas ever written, narrative constructions all of them.

The Vaughan Williams ballet piece gave the program a powerful start. Fashioned after the biblical tale of Job, it was strongly influenced by William Blake`s engraved prints of the man of patience, enlarged copies of which were presented during this performance. If ever music exemplified this composer`s belief that art should express the entire inner life of a community, this Job text was it. Complex yet direct, mystic yet realist, its moods embrace the contemplative, the gentle and stormy, alternatively quietly brooding or darkly shaded befitting Job`s fluctuating fortunes. 

Curro moved its performance at a judicious pace. Individual instrumental sections had their moments of glory, the fullness of rich string sonorities as the first movement unfolded stealthily, outlined by flutes, brass in fine form blazing an arresting path into the second state as Satan begins his games of temptation. A jaunty dance gathered in ferocity until flute, harp, cello and lower strings changed the mood, underpinned by an ominous pedal point. Intense playing in the nine scenes of this piece was highlighted by a violin solo in the distinctive pastoral style of Vaughan Williams, played exquisitely by concertmaster Zoe Freisberg, until dramatic percussion playing turned gloom to triumph. 

After that confronting exercise, Mozart was sheer joy. Soloists Graeme Jennings (violin) and Yoko Okayasu (viola) were delightfully attuned to their interweaving music texts in the Concertante. Their delicately poised partnership fitted effortlessly within the orchestral textures, although at times the velvet tones of their instruments were slightly lightweight in this huge hall setting. Mozart is not a QYS forte and it did take the first movement for the ensemble to gel. It may have been the inspiration of the mystical quality of the first movement cadenza, but from then on, the playing settled and the next two movements were to savour.

Brisbane (and Queensland) audiences owe a huge debt to John Curro for the opportunities he has given us, via these QYS concerts, to share the brilliant music of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. It is way too neglected in this country where Italian migrants have contributed significantly to its character and development. The stigma of program music versus absolute music problem may be part of the neglect, but whatever the reason, Respighi`s absence in regular programs is a sad loss.

To hear The Pines of Rome is joy enough. To hear it played with such precision, such fire, passion and verve, to hear sounds sparkling like crystal in sunlight, is a rich blessing. Forget, if you must, the images of Villa Borghese, catacombs, the Gianicolo Hill, Appian Way that inform the piece. Just enjoy the tremendous blaze of French horns (an instrument so often prone to accidents and slips of the tongue), the doleful dark place visited by the strings, trombone intoning the Sanctus chant from the Cum Jubilo Mass. Forget the objections to inserting recorded nightingale song amid the unfolding orchestral spectrum.  Just relish the way Curro led his QYS players through these exciting places, down the Appian Way to a triumphant, dazzling close. Bravo.  -  Patricia Kelly

 

Tickets

Tickets are available at QTIX, online or phone 136 246

Adult $36 | Concession $29 | Full Time Student $14

 

About the Concert

Pines of Rome opens with Job - A Masque for Dancing by Vaughan Williams. This rarely heard orchestral masterpiece, originally composed as ballet music, is a series of vivid musical portraits inspired by William Blake’s “Illustrations of the Book of Job.”

The famous Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra by Mozart features Graeme Jennings and Yoko Okayasu as soloists. Graeme, a former Concertmaster of QYS and former member of the Arditti String Quartet, is now a Senior Lecturer at the Queensland Conservatorium, and Yoko is the esteemed Principal Viola of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The concert concludes with the wonderful tone poem, Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi. Full of the beauty and grandeur of ancient Rome, this will be a spine tingling finale to this concert.

 

More information / recordings 

Vaughan Williams - Job: A Masque for Dancing

Watch performances of the piece on YouTube

Read about the piece on Wikipedia

Find William Blake’s “Illustrations of the Book of Job” here

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Sinfonia Concertante

Watch performances of the piece on YouTube

Read about the piece on Wikipedia

 

Ottorino Respighi - Pines of Rome

Watch performances of the piece on YouTube

Read about the piece on Wikipedia

 

Biographies

Graeme Jennings

Australian violinist and violist, Graeme Jennings, is a former member of the legendary Arditti String Quartet (1994-2005). He has toured widely throughout the world, made more than 70 CDs, given over 300 premieres and received numerous accolades including the prestigious Siemens Prize (1999) and two Gramophone awards. Active as a soloist, chamber musician, ensemble leader and conductor, his repertoire ranges from Bach to Boulez and beyond. He has worked with and been complimented on his interpretations by many of the leading composers of our time.

Graeme is a member of Australia’s internationally acclaimed new music ensemble ELISION as well as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Lunaire Collective and the Kurilpa String Quartet. He has also performed as Guest Concertmaster of the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras and Guest Associate Concertmaster with the Sydney Symphony.

Graeme is an alumnus of the Queensland Conservatorium where he studied with Anthony Doheny and John Curro. He graduated in 1989 and was also awarded the Conservatorium Medal. From 1983 to 1990 he was a member of the Queensland Youth Orchestra and served as concertmaster from 1989. He was also concertmaster of the Australian Youth Orchestra in 1989 and 1990 and the International Youth Orchestra at Expo 88. He was a finalist in the National Youth Concerto Competition in 1984 and twice a finalist in the ABC Young Performers competition.

As a recipient of two Australia Council grants, he undertook further studies at the San Francisco Conservatory with Isadore Tinkleman and Mark Sokol, completing a Masters Degree in 1992 and an Artist Certificate in Chamber Music in 1994. Having previously served on the faculties of Mills College, UC Berkeley and Stanford University, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in violin at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in 2009.

His recent recording of Brian Ferneyhough’s “Terrain” with the ELISION Ensemble was released on the Kairos label to much critical acclaim. Also available on Kairos is his recording with Irvine Arditti of Luigi Nono’s “Hay Que Caminos (Sognando)”.
Increasingly active as a conductor, Mr Jennings has conducted ensembles on four continents and in recent seasons has presented major works by composers as diverse as Birtwistle, Harrison, Ives, Nancarrow, Pärt, Prokofiev, Sculthorpe, Stravinsky and others.

 

Yoko Okayasu

Born in Tokyo, Ms. Okayasu began her professional training on violin under Yuri Vladimir Ovcharek at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (Russia), and continued with Camilla Wicks at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (USA). As a violinist, she earned her Masters in Chamber Music under the direction of Mark Sokol and Ian Swenson, and studied viola with Jodi Levitz. She also holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture from the Tokyo University of Science and worked for the design firm Hisao Koyama Atelier in Tokyo.

She has served as principal violist of the Filharmonica Arturo Toscanini (Parma, Italy), the Danish Radio Sinfonietta (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Sydney) and has also worked as a member of the San Diego Symphony (California, USA). She currently holds the principal position with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

As a devoted chamber musician, she has appeared with the Satori Quartet (Colorado, USA), ADORNO Ensemble (San Francisco, USA), Sound of Lyons (Colorado, USA), Kurilpa Quartet (Brisbane), Lunaire Collective (Brisbane) and as a guest leader with the Camerata of St. John’s.

She plays a viola made by the Berlin maker, Kevin Gentges, in 2009.

 

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.

 

Tickets

Tickets are available at QTIX, online or phone 136 246

Adult $36 | Concession $29 | Full Time Student $14