A wonderful, eclectic mix of music was performed by the Gold Coast Chamber Ensemble on Sunday afternoon, 13 October 2013 at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Murwillumbah. Entitled A Strings Odyssey, the program drew on European dance and folk music, including Bartok’s Rumanian Dances, an Argentinian Tango and Greek Dances by Skalkottas, conducted by the renowned Spiros Rantos. The popular Fantasia on Greensleeves by Vaughan Williams also featured. The talented players produced a crisp, spirited sound, particularly in JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no 4, in which the three soloists were Hugh Won (violin) and Anna Stoddart and Joanna Sullivan (flute). More reflective and lyrical moments came in the Holberg Suite by Edvard Greig. The encore, an exuberant rendition of Strauss’s Pizzicato Polka, ended a well-received and -executed concert, of a standard to match any performed in a major concert centre. The light and airy church with reliable acoustics make it an excellent venue for such a concert, the third to be performed there in the last 12 months, with more planned for the future. The warm welcome of the parish and the involvement of the community made the occasion particularly enjoyable.
Vivienne Roberts Thomson
I got to the Tweed hall just in time for the first piece on Sunday 22nd June and was immediately struck by the high standard of musicianship in the Capriole Suite by Warlock. The orchestra had contrasting dynamics and rhythmic precision making it exciting to listen to. The guest artist – Louise King had a world class stage presence and captivated the whole audience with her showmanship. The Tchaikovsky was sad and moving, but my personal favourite of the whole concert was the Adios Noninos by Piazzolla – inspiring, spine tingling and an amazing variety of colours produced by a single cello!
After an unusual combination of a cello quartet playing an entertaining waltz came the piece de resistance . . . the famous Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings. I have heard this many times on recordings by world class orchestras, but never played live. I didn’t realise what a technical challenge this music really is until I saw it played before my eyes. There is so much going on at the same time in different sections of the ensemble! And it was delivered in a spectacular fashion by this talented group. At times it was just a whispered long note that grew in harmony that made my hair stand on end, and other times I found my toes tapping to an exhilarating fast movement. The GCCO did Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece justice, and I am grateful that I was able to leave my troubles behind me that afternoon to be transported to another place, even if it was just for a short while.