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NSW Drs Orchestra Concert at The Concourse, Chatswood - Andrew Kennedy



"World leading and world premiere!"

At our first rehearsal there was something more new than usual for me to experience, my first orchestral world premiere.

One of our violinists has commissioned world leading composer, Elena Kats-Chernin, to write an overture for our 10th anniversary concert. Until 2011, I hadn't played all that much orchestral music, chamber music was more my specialty. In recent years though, after joining the NSW Doctors' Orchestra, I've played symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Schubert, and Sternhammar, and major works by Elgar, Walton, Berlioz, and Mahler. It really has been a huge boost to my enjoyment and understanding of the clarinet's role in music.

Our special guest artist, Elena Kats-Chernin, is an Australian composer, originally from the Soviet Union, with a large output of very appealing music. She uses lots of dance ideas and folk music, which audiences relate to easily. Some say her film is well suited to evocative films, especially her famous ballet "Wild Swans". Would we hear more of this great composition in the brand new "Scherzino"?

AND NOW! - a piece nobody has ever heard, because it hasn't even been rehearsed before. I had the musical score of "Scherzino" emailed to me and was able to hear an artificial rendition by my computer, getting the gist of it's harmony, rhythm, and style. I was expecting a somewhat relentless, dire sound for much of the piece, with just some moments of elegance or cheekiness. But it was listening to elevator music, in contrast to the vast shapes and rich colours an entire symphony orchestra would concoct.

Finally, the orchestra of 70 musicians brought Elena's art to life. I'd say that the harp, xylophone, and trumpets make the biggest impact on the beauty and character of this piece. The harp creates magic and haziness, the xylophone adds zing and brittleness, and the trumpets take us to a haunted hunting ground, or a holy crypt.

We videoed the last rehearsal on Sunday and shared the clip with Elena who is in Germany working on a major operatic project. It's amazing how the technology allows her to experience the "musical second draft" and tweak a few parts to get it to match her imagination.

Next weekend we will get our chance to check out the acoustics in the brand new Chatswood Concourse before our performance on Sunday 26 May.  We hope to welcome people from all over to support our charities and let us bring you into our passionate musical world.