‘Animal Kingdom’ was majestic.
If the audience closed their eyes you could almost hear the wild swans, buzzing bees and vicious sharks parading through QPAC’s concert hall. However, this menagerie of creatures was played into existence by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in their ‘Animal Kingdom’ concert. Conducted by nationally acclaimed Richard Davis and hosted by musician and commentator, Guy Noble, the orchestra led their audience through gripping, relaxing and musically complex pieces which traversed the animal kingdom in a single act performance.
The programme consisted of orchestrations that any classical music connoisseur would appreciate and recognisable pieces for those less well versed in the cultural orchestral experience. Music such as ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ from ‘The Tale of Tsar Saltan’ and ‘Shark Theme’ from ‘Jaws’ piqued audiences’ interest while the ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’ by Claude Debussy allowed audiences to sit back and soak in the sweeping chords and harp glissandos.
A few audience members may have even nodded off during the soothing melodies that accompanied this Prélude, however, they were jolted awake by ‘Chicks in Their Shells’ which immediately followed. The Symphony Orchestra was successful in organising a programme which ebbed and flowed, allowing audiences to breathe throughout the 70-minute performance.
Guy Noble was an informative, comedic and light-hearted host who not only introduced the audience to each piece but provided repartee with orchestra members and the conductor. For those who may not be indoctrinated into the symphony orchestra or be unfamiliar with the great classical composers, these breaks allowed the audience to understand how each piece slotted into the menagerie that was ‘Animal Kingdom’. To know that the staccato rhythms and high melodies within ‘L’usignolo’ (The Nightingale) by Ottorino Respighi represented birds gave context and understanding to how each piece had found its way into the performance.
The stunning acoustics of the Concert Hall allowed for the orchestra to perform without the need for further amplification. There is beauty in hearing music in its purest form. The sound was balanced, crystal clear and allowed the skilful dynamics used within the orchestra to shine through.
‘Animal Kingdom’ was beautiful in its simplicity. There was no need for flashy lights, impressive sets or costumes, the music was the only medium necessary to transport the audience to a different world. You could see the emotion of the music on the musician’s faces and tangibly feel the audience tense and relax as each piece brought its own emotional weight.
We live in a world that is constantly switched on, from the moment we wake in the morning to the instant we lay back down in bed, our brains are stimulated with input from the world around us and the ever-increasing need to be connected. ‘Animal Kingdom’ gave audiences the chance to focus their attention on a single experience. At points, the Hall was encouraged to close their eyes and purely focus on the weaving melodies. When you are in an environment such as this, the shortness of our attention spans becomes evident. ‘Animal Kingdom’ gave audiences the opportunity to appreciate the present moment and immerse themselves in the purity of an orchestral experience.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra has an extensive program for the remainder of this year. For event listings and ticketing information visit their website at https://www.qso.com.au/