Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Symphony Hamilton on May 29

Symphony Hamilton have played their last concert at the auditorium of the Royal Botanical Gardens. I am a member of the RBG and it is a treasured institution. I've even performed in their auditorium with my school choir but the space is awkward for a group as big as Symphony Hamilton and the acoustics are difficult. The orchestra will be better served in their new home.
The orchestra will perform next year in the brand new Burlington Centre for the Performing Arts. They open with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and follow with an ambitious season the details of which are available at their web site.
On this occasion they began with the Imperial March from Star Wars by John Williams. I'm a big fan of John Williams and am generally interested in film music. As a curtain raiser this piece did its job and the orchestra gave an adequate reading. It doesn't work very well as a stand alone concert piece and I'd rather have heard the Star Wars theme, as familiar as it is.
They followed with performances by their Young Artists' Competition Winners. Adam Despinic played beautifully the first movement of Marian Mozetich's Affairs of the Heart for Violin and Orchestra. The piece is a successful blend of musical romanticism and minimalism. I'd be interested to hear more of this composer's music.
Next, Bogdan Chetraru played the first movement of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto. He's in Grade 10 at Westdale Collegiate which makes him 15 or 16. He plays with great spirit and determination and it was a joy to watch a young virtuoso in the making.
The first half closed with Three Piece's from Schindler's List played with appropriate sensitivity by the orchestra's Concert Master, Corey Gemmell. I supposed there are those who object to the kind of emotional manipulation that is integral to this music, tied to the film for which it was written. Even so, I find the main theme touching and sincere, surely a remarkable achievement by John Williams, especially since it is so different from his other scores.
The concert closed with a spirited reading of the Dvorak Eighth Symphony. I came away with the main theme of the last movement stuck in my head. Particular kudos to First Flute Laurel Trainor who was very busy indeed and played so well, and to Graham Young who played the exposed opening of the last movement flawlessly.

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