Review by Marita Bellas Miles
2022 is a big year for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1897, 2022 marks the 75th year of it’s existence. To celebrate this significant milestone, QSO are kicking off their season with a concert dedicated to both fan and orchestral favourites. Conducted by principal conductor and artistic advisor Johannes Frtizsch, QSO favourites was a two-hour journey which took the audience through the past, present and future of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
QSO had asked its loyal patrons to contribute to the curation of the program by submitting their all time QSO favourites for consideration. The top audience choices were selected to be included in the performance. This created a strong audience-orchestra connection and made the concert feel extremely personal.
The pieces which made the top of the fan favourite list were chosen to bookend the show. Opening with Beethoven’s instantly recognisable Symphony no. 5, QSO ensured the audience would be champing at the bit, hungry for more. Performing the piece in its entirety was an absolute treat for the audience.
The next couple of pieces, Hector Berlioz’s Hungarian March, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no.5 took the audience through an exploration of love and loss. Berlioz’s Hungarian March was very meaningful as it was performed in the very first Queensland Symphony Orchestra concert 75 years ago. These pieces were all wonderfully conducted and played, telling various love stories, both tragic and beautiful.
Act 1 culminated with Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3 in C minor; A stunning, extravagant piece. The guest organist was amazing and brought an intense grandeur to the concert hall.
All the musicians who shared their rich insight and stories about the history of the orchestra and the pieces being played were witty and charming. Little jokes and lots of banter had the audience chuckling along. It was lovely to hear about the significance of the pieces before they were performed. It allowed the audience to have a greater appreciation for the song choices.
A massive highlight of the day was QSO’s very own Craig Allister Young’s original composition: Fanfare for the Seventy-fifth Birthday of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The cellist and composer created this piece specifically for these birthday celebrations and it was a privilege to witness the world premiere of this magnificent number.
Filling out the rest of Act 2 were an array of classics. Prokofiev’s ‘the Montagues and the Capulets’ from Romeo and Juliet was one of my personal favourites. It was dramatic, intense and extremely moving.
Selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and J. Strauss Jr’s On the Beautiful Blue Danube shortly followed. These are essential orchestral and fan favourite pieces that told some classic stories and evoked a lot of emotions.
QSO chose a movie favourite to round out the concert. John William’s Star Wars is probably one of the most well-known pieces of movie music and was incredible to hear performed live. It is a rich and uplifting piece that flowed seamlessly. It was the perfect ending to the celebration concert.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s favourites featured a perfectly curated repertoire of fan chosen and orchestral favourites. It was a love letter to the orchestra and its audience.
Image Credit: QSO