2009 March Concert

 Tutus and a Tenor

St James Church, Woburn Road, Central Lower Hutt
Saturday, 28th March.

Brief review

The first concert for the year featured tenor Michael Gray singing three arias, two by Mozart and one by Verdi. It concluded with the substantial 'Swan Lake Suite' by Tchaikovsky. This was the origin of the title, "Tutus and a Tenor".

The succinct title understates the concert. The orchestra additionally played four pieces from the Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg and four Canzonas by Lilburn. It also held to its principle of encouraging young local talent when soprano Dani Yourukova sang a Puccini aria.

The Peer Gynt pieces are popular, and made a good start to the concert. Dani to me was the highlight of the first half, beautifully and powerfully singing 'O mio babbino caro'.

Michael Gray sang once in the first half, but really warmed his audience with two arias in the second, beginning with a brief introduction of the double dealing characters who are testing the fidelity of their fiancées by posing as Albanians. ('Well, it is opera.') He then dramatically removed his coat to sing the love song to Violetta of Alfredo, who is unaware that she is dying of tuberculosis.

The concert ended with seven pieces from the Swan Lake Suite, itself a dramatic work that can compete with opera. It begins mezzo forte and builds from there. Conductor Brent Stewart was at pains to state that there were periods of relative calm in the work, and the full dynamic range of an orchestra would be displayed. The Valse movement, chosen to end the concert, was just that dramatic mix of quiet lilting segments and then excitement. It built to a memorably powerful finale.

Photos from the concert.

The full size of the orchestra may be seen as they await the entrance of the leader of the orchestra, and then conductor Brent Stewart. 

Orchestra and audience.
Dani Yourakova
Soprano Dani Yourukova of Upper Hutt singing Pucinni's aria ' O mio babbino caro' from his opera Gianni Schicchi.  The aria is noted for the octave leap in the second line.

It was her first outing in front of a full orchestra, but I am sure this occasion will happen many times in the future.
Brent conducting

Brent Stewart conducting the opening Peer Gynt Suite which began the concert. Two of the pieces were for strings only, as were the Canzonas by Lilburn.  
Tenor Michael Gray singing the first of his arias, 'Il mio tesoro intanto', which is Don Ottavio swearing vengeance (as you do) in Mozart's Don Giovanni. 

Cello to windView of the orchestra, from cello, viola and second violins, to woodwind and distant brass.

 I just like the warm wood tones of the cello against the sober black of the players.

Incidentally, while the organ pipes are on the left of the altar area, the playing console is quite near the cello players, out of sight to the right.

Anton Erasmuson