The SYO Philharmonic opened the night with a spectacular rendition of Wagner’s Der Meistersinger Von Nurnberg Overture, conducted by the inimitable Brian Buggy OAM. This short but sweet composition of Wagner, a grand musical gesture in itself, and it’s outstanding performance were an exciting taste of the marvelous pieces yet to come. The energy and passion that emanated from behind the baton seemed to be contagious, captivating the musicians and audience alike with their rich romantic symphonic tones filling Sydney Town Hall more exquisitely than it’s own elaborate architecture.
An almost antagonist level of excitement ran through the patrons who were overflowing into the mezzanine level, as SYO alumna and London Symphony Orchestra violinist Naoko Keatley took to the stage accompanied by The Sydney Youth Orchestra and their prophetic conductor Alexander Briger AO. Rivalling the compositional virtue of the violin concerti of Brahms or Beethoven also in D major, the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s concerto was enhanced by the elegance and expertise of Keatley, whose performance could not be surpassed in majesty, facility or expressive prowess.
A luxurious yet delicate tapestry was woven between soloist and orchestra in the Andante second movement, proving to subdue and relax the audience after such a magnetic opening. The subtle temperament of the Andante was a rare and beautiful gem, in an otherwise electrifying set, compared to the exhilarating character of the Allegro Vivacissimo which followed. Continuity throughout the performance was provided by the reserved maturity of the orchestra, cultivating a graceful accompaniment for the melodious passagework of the soloist to shimmer above.
Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony highlighted the grace and grandeur of the woodwind section, who played with dignified nuance whilst the overarching narrative was conveyed with effortless finesse by Briger. The opening movement was slightly less dazzling compared to the capabilities the orchestra had already exhibited in the first half of the program. However renewed concentration in the second movement lead to a determination to capture the sentiment of oppression, indignation and civil unrest of the Czech Republic the Scherzo. After opening with an almost feverish anticipation in the Finale, the orchestra gathered all it’s remaining stamina and thoroughly satiated the audience in the menacingly triumphant symphonic language of Dvorak.
Christine Savage – Christine is one of SYO’s Conducting Fellows for 2017 thanks to Bijl Architecture. She studies a Bachelor of Music (Classical) at AIM and is President – AIM Student Association for their Sydney campus.