Archive for the ‘performing’ category

Playing for a Summer Wedding

March 5, 2013


We recently had the pleasure of playing for the wedding of a lovely young couple in a beautiful garden in West Gawler.  As with most garden weddings there is always the element of anxiousness with regard to the weather, however on this occasion, we could not have asked for a better day.

We arrived around 2 pm to set ourselves up under the shady trees. Chairs had been set in rows facing north, with a little aisle in the centre. While we were warming up paper cones of rose petals were set out on each seat, their scent wafting in our direction as the wind began to swirl a little.Guests began to arrive about 45 minutes before the ceremony was due to start. They chatted amicably together, enjoying the refreshments provided, while we played Handel, Hummel, Klengel and Schubert. Our pianist, Dominique, had an ongoing battle with the wind, which, although not strong, presented her with a continual challenge.

The bride had chosen Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for her entry. Unfortunately, with all the guests crowding between us and where the bride was entering it was rather difficult to see when we should start playing! One young man offered to be our ‘scout’ and when he gave us the nod we began to play.

Pachelbel’s Canon was chosen for the signing of the register. Much to our cellst Dave’s relief, we have an arrangement in which the cello part is not the usual soporific pattern of D-A-B-F#-G-D-G-A!  We ended with the Hornpipe in D, by Handel, from the Royal Fireworks Suite – a very bright and joyful piece to end such a beautiful occasion.


Rhodri Clarke at Hans Vonk Music House

April 1, 2012

Today I had the pleasure of attending a concert given by Melbourne pianist and first class honours graduate of the Royal College of Music, London, Rhodri Clarke. Rhodri is a very talented young man who gave a splendid performance of pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. His program included an excerpt from Bach’s Toccata in D major BWV S-912, Beethoven’s Sonata in D minor Op 31 No2 (“Tempest”), Chopin’s Etude in A flat Op 25 no 1, Ballade Op 23 in G minor, Prelude in D flat major (“Raindrop”), Liszt’s famous Liebestraum No 3 and a wonderfully dramatic finish with Liszt’s Concert Paraphrase on Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto. Rhodri is a pianist of astounding experience and ability, and it was a priviledge to hear him play. He plays very sensitively, with beautiful touch and magnificent dynamic range. His fingers flew over the keys all pieces, but particularly in the lyrical Chopin and Liszt pieces.

To give you a taste of Rhodri’s superb playing here is a clip of him playing Chopin’s Nocturne Op 48 No 1.

The concert took place at Hans Vonk Music House in Spreyton, which was a perfect venue for a warm autumn day. With the windows open, sun shining, cool breeze wafting gently in, wine and nibbles, and superb piano playing to listen to, it made for a most pleasant Sunday afternoon indeed.

Hans Vonk Music House

Playing when your toes are freezing – Chocolate Winterfest

July 22, 2011

Trio Al Dente, had the pleasure of playing at the Anvers Chocolate Winterfest on Sunday July 10th. The Winterfest is a regular event in our part of the world and attracts many chocolate lovers from all over the state. Our trio was playing for the “Chocolate High Tea”. Guests were served a three tiered selection of sandwiches, baked goods and the delicious Anvers chocolates and fudges.

Getting ready to play our next piece

In previous years, it has usually rained on the festival. This year it was just plain freezing!

As it was our first time at the event we didn’t really know what it would be like to play in 8 or 9 degrees Celsius. We were playing in a marquee which was heated but obviously it was nowhere near as warm as being inside.  As we played the day warmed up a little. We didn’t have many breaks so not much opportunity to warm up completely. Close to the end we even had a downpour and a thunderstorm…we just kept playing!

We were well looked after by the Anvers staff and, despite the cold, we thoroughly enjoyed playing together for 4 1/2 hours! Hopefully we’ll be asked back next year 🙂

Our experience with outdoor performance

March 8, 2011

A couple of weeks ago our trio, Trio Al Dente, performed at a local outdoor event, Classical Meets Jazz.  The event has enjoyed much success for about 10 years. Imagine a lovely warm summer day, sitting outdoors, listening to a variety of music whilst eating your picnic lunch.  Sounds very relaxing and enjoyable doesn’t it?

It had rained all day on the day before our performance.  We were unsure whether the event would even proceed or not  early that morning.  The forcast suggested the rain would mostly clear. The organiser made the decision: it would go ahead.

From a player’s point of view it was not at all pleasant.  The wind tore through the stage area, threatening not just to blow the music off the stands (it was pegged on) but to blow the stands themselves over! They were pretty sturdy ones too. Our pianist needed not just a page turner, but someone to hold the music down during the whole time she was playing. At one point our cellist’s music blew off the stand completely. He just kept going as if nothing had happened and picked it up when the piece finished! Meanwhile, I just pinned the music to the stand with the scroll of my violin. 🙂 The stage was covered from above, but completely open at the front and a couple of times rain fell on the performers.  How the grand piano survived I’m not sure. It was well under the shelter though so I think that was what helped protect it. My violin was not as fortunate though.  😦

From the audience point of view, it was a different story. They were well rugged up.  Many had not only brought blankets to sit on but also to wrap themselves in. They could buy coffee and barbequed sausages – they definitely were not suffering too much!  From comments we heard later, we discovered that the sound had been very good, the atmosphere of the event was wonderful and people enjoyed it.

So was an outdoor performance a good idea?  If we had trusted our own instincts we would have said “Not in that kind of weather”! However, the audience reponse and comments seem to prove that sometimes you just have to keep going even if it’s tough.

Will we do it again? Ah, you’ll just have to wait and see………..

Tasmania Discovery Orchestra Meets Stephen Schwartz

June 22, 2010

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of playing with the Tasmania Discovery Orchestra in  An Evening with Stephen Schwartz as part of the Festival of Broadway.

The Tasmania Discovery Orchestra (TDO) is an initiative of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and came into being in March of this year. It is an orchestra designed to offer musicians with advanced orchestral instrument skills the opportunity to come together and make great music in Hobart, Tasmania. Entry is by audition.

Stephen-SchwartzThe rehearsal arrangement is designed to encourage interstate players and so is quite compact.  We had five rehearsals: two on Thursday, two on Friday, and one on Saturday, followed by the concert.

Stephen Schwartz is an extremely talented musician and lyricist. It was a delight to see and hear him,  both in interview and performing. The interviewer for the night was Michael A Kerker, the Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). 

Schwartz’ description of the writing process was quite illuminating. It is very easy to have the impression that composers or lyricists sit down and just write what comes to them in an unending flow.  This idea was soon corrected as Schwartz told of many incidences of having to write and re-write until he was satisfied with the end result.

Later on he played a piece he had re-worked, in its original form, at the piano. He then went on to play the second re-write and finally the third, explaining along the way his reasoning for changing the lyrics and the eventual title of the song.  All this was done completely without written music!

Soloists at the concert included some absolutely amazing singers: Liz Callaway, Michael Rose, Silvie Paladino, Adrian Li Donni, Ben Davidson, Julie O’Reilly and Michael Lampard. Musical numbers were from Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, Children of Eden, The Baker’s Wife, Rags and Wicked.

The first Australian performance of two excerpts from Schwartz’ first opera, Séance On A Wet Afternoon, were also performed by Julie O’Reilly and Ben Davidson. The opera premiered at the Opera Santa Barbara late last year and will be performed  in Australia in 2011.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening and a thrill to be in the orchestra for such a pleasurable event.

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