2011 Final Concert - Humoresque

St James Church, Central Lower Hutt.
Saturday, 3rd December, 7:30 pm.


The final concert for the year is always a fun one. This time it departed from the Proms style and looked for orchestral humour from a variety of sources. These were mainly British and American as the singing was in English (apart from the cat fight). Conductor Brent Stewart added in a lot of parts and gave an excellent commentary throughout.

imperial concert grand typewriter
The Typewriter. The NZSO Concert Grand Imperial, tuned to A440

The Introduction involved audience training. There is a big efficiency difference between a good clap and a round of applause. People kept forgetting and Brent had to glare a number of times. There were a lot of items and no time to waste.

How the programme played


The concert began with an infomercial for the revolutionary leading-edge eConductor remote that allows a listener to stop an orchestra (illustrated at left), plus play, mute, fast-forward and other expected  tasks.

CD and LP simulations were included which gave much scope for orchestra and the remote operator to ham it up.

Stand or sit on a B Audience carrying out a simple 'stand & sit in unison' task to illustrate the complete control a conductor has.
All in the bonnie key of B.
some Duke of York echo meant the last line seemed to be "They were neither up nor down".

Soprano cat fightSoprano Ruth Armishaw sang I'm Calm, then with a dress upgrade (deeper purple and can the tiara) I'm Georgeous.

However, singing 'Memory' somehow tangled Cats with Rossini. The appearance of another cat (Sharon Yearsley) degenerated the song into a cat fight, (all miau and no claws) which eventually collapsed as cat fights can with the protagonists disappearing in opposite directions.

The duet is a popular soprano encore, and was well acted, with a distinct air of fur about to fly.

Gallery Wind - through a harp

Light was fading. These two photos are from rehearsals.

At left is a view of the treble recorder player who showed that there is a place for a recorder. His "Doggie in the Window" began with deceptive simplicity, but rapidly moved into a complex and excellent jazz version.

At right is Stewart Mann, outside his usual role as the leader of the orchestra to sing "I've lost my Horn"

Stewart Mann singing "I've Lost my Horn"
Lydia Laine-Smith

Lydia Laine-Smith singing 'Nothing', which was followed by 'Sing!' in a duet with Sharon Yearsley. The song is challenging as it required 'student' Lydia to not only sing off key, but out of sync with 'teacher' Sharon .

At right: percussionist John Toon performing Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter". Very formal, including the inital buffoonery tuning it.

John Toon and typewriter

All alone
Richard Armishaw singing 'I'm All Alone", oblivious to trusty two-steps-back-and-one-to-the-sidekick Sharon Yearsley.

Life is tough at the top.

Sharon's part required more mime than singing, and she played the part well.

Recipe for DisasterThe final piece was Claire Cowan's Recipe for Disaster.

This piece was a 2008 commission from SOUNZ to celebrate HVO's 50th anniversary. It has the orchestra split into two, with Maestro Stuart Douglas in chef's hat vying for control with Conductor Brent Stewart.

The final picture seems apt. The conductors are busy, Brent's arm just a blur, but the orchestra is much slower as disaster unfolds.

But the disaster is sealed at the end with the shooting of the piano accordionist.

Higher resolution versions of the photos are available on-line in a Picasa Album.