‘Sounds From the Deep’ was evocative.
At the ‘Home of the Arts’ (HOTA) on the beautiful Gold Coast on a peaceful Friday evening, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) performed their concert ‘Sounds From the Deep’. The two-hour concert conducted and hosted by the accomplished Guy Noble and featuring one of Australia’s finest guitarists, Karin Schaupp, took the audience on a musical journey of ‘the power of water’.
This concert was performed as a part of QSO’s current regional tour, bringing their music to people who may not be able to travel to Brisbane to attend their concerts regularly. QSO’s regional touring has been extremely successful, proven by the almost sold out performance hosted over the weekend.
The concert was also a part of the 2019 Queensland Symphony Orchestra Prodigy Project. Where selected students receive mentoring from the musicians of the orchestra and become honorary members to rehearse and perform at public concerts. This program is a wonderful opportunity for young musicians to improve their skills and experience the magic of being in a symphony orchestra. The first two pieces of the concert featured six honorary members.
The adventure started with Mendelssohn’s concert overture ‘The Hebrides’; also known as ‘Fingal’s Cave’. Following that was the first movement – named ‘The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship’ – of Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite ‘Scheherazade’ with the beautiful violin solos played by concertmaster Shane Chen. Schaupp then joined the orchestra to perform two pieces of film music showcasing guitar.
The first was movements one and three of Westlake’s ‘Antarctica: Suite for Orchestra and Guitar’ named ‘The Last Place on Earth’ and ‘Penguin Ballet’ respectively, which he wrote for the 1991 IMAX film ‘Antarctica’. The first half finished with the poignant ‘Cavatina’ from the film ‘The Deer Hunter’ written by Myers with the lush orchestral arrangement by Australian composer and arranger Jessica Wells.
The repertoire for the first half was well-chosen and immersed the audience into the theme of the concert. The audience particularly enjoyed the works that Schaupp joined the orchestra for as having almost concerto-like pieces with the guitar is rarely heard and adds something special to the experience of seeing a symphony orchestra.
The second half of the concert started with ‘The Moldau’, the second movement from Smetana’s symphonic poem ‘Má vlast’. Britten’s third movement – ‘Moonlight’ – of the Four Sea Interludes from his opera ‘Peter Grimes’ was next, followed by the most famous piece in the program; ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ by J Strauss Jr. The powerful finale of the concert was the act four finale from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’, though the audience was surprised with an encore of a medley from the much loved ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ by Badelt.
The second half had more well-known pieces and was just as delightful as the first. The encore choice of ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ rounded out the concert well and balanced the modern and more classical works. By including film music in the concert – and their various specialty concerts of playing film scores alongside the film – QSO is making the world of the symphony orchestra and classical music more accessible which is a clever way to influence audience members to go to their other concerts.
Noble interacted extremely well with the audience, sharing funny anecdotes before certain pieces, and responded to the energy of the audience. He also explained the composer’s inspiration for their pieces which gave the audience more detailed knowledge of the pieces and their relationship to the theme. It was a wonderful approach to hosting as it made the concert even more pleasant.
Noble has worked extensively with the QSO for many years and it was clear that he has built a good rapport with the musicians, though sometimes it felt as if there was a slight lapse in communication between himself and the orchestra. The various tempo changes in the piece ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ by J Strauss Jr. where it took a couple of bars to get settled into the new tempo were an example of this.
Another slight issue with the orchestra was the intonation. In some of the pieces with exposed solos or section solos, it was more audible. This could have occurred from not properly tuning at the beginning of each half, or from the instruments reacting to the temperature of the room throughout the concert and therefore affecting the tuning.
The balance of the orchestra was great, though the venue itself lost the sound of the woodwinds when the whole orchestra was playing as the sound went into the ceiling above the stage and not to the audience. Other than that setback, the venue was decent and the orchestra’s sound came across nicely. Schaupp’s guitar playing stood out against the orchestra even in louder parts or when sharing the melody with other instruments, and credit must go to the sound team for getting this part of the balance perfect.
The skill of the players is undeniable and the audience showed their enthusiasm and appreciation by clapping and cheering loudly at the end of each piece. Some gave a standing ovation right at the end, prompting the conductor to reappear three times at the podium to accept the audience’s applause on behalf of the orchestra.
Overall, ‘Sounds From the Deep’ was a very entertaining concert and the repertoire choice was impeccably suited to the theme. The charismatic hosting and conducting of Noble, Schaupp’s phenomenal guitar playing, as well as the dedication and talent of the orchestra made for a very high-quality concert and a very happy audience.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) performs their ‘Sounds From the Deep’ again on Thursday, 3 October 2019. For more information visit regarding that concert and other items in their 2019 program, visit Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Website.