With the gigantic sounds of Grainger’s The Warriors still ringing in our ears we say farewell to this extraordinary season of two concerts. Certainly the biggest orchestra ever assembled by the FSO (with about 100 players), many audience and orchestra members alike will remember this as the best concert series we’ve ever done. Who would’ve thought we could top the performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 1 in 2000 or Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 2006?
Undoubtedly a score of the grandest designs and ideals, The Warriors was thrilling to learn and to perform. Who could forget the dramatic, pulsating energy of the piano-percussion battery which propelled the opening of each fast section, and the brilliant orchestration and atmospheric writing of the slower interludes.
Much, if not most, of the credit for these two successful concerts must go to our musical director and “spiritual leader” David Pye. Several years in the planning, this concert was the culmination of David’s idea of using percussion ensembles as orchestral soloists in these pieces. Having succesfully guided the FSO through several major projects in previous years, the orchestra was happy to accept this challenge under David’s leadership.
David’s unwaveringly positive attitude, clear direction and (most importantly) calm and reassuring presence at the podium are hallmarks of his success as a conductor. He was a tower of strength in this repertoire of demanding contemporary works. So effortlessly eloquent are his remarks introducing each work it is easy to take them for granted.
“Utterly mesmerising” was how one audience member described the world premiere of David’s work Cicadan Rhythms which was a show-case for the talents of the Bells West and FSO percussionists on the anklung.
The orchestra’s performance of Kodaly’s Hary Janos Suite was one to emphasise the contrasting moods of the work – from the delicate flourishes of the cimbalom in the “Song” (played with great technique and style by Josh Webster) to the violent outbursts of the lower brass in “The battle and defeat of Napoleon”.
Thanks to all our guest artists including assistant conductors Aaron Wyatt and Monica McTaggart; pianists Roland Brand, Kathy Chow and Kevin Chow; tenor saxophonist Phillipa Gibson; celeste Rebecca Cossen; cimbalom Josh Webster; harp Jessica Khoo and Ariel Lyons and all the members of our fabulous percussion ensemble soloists Bells West and Defying Gravity.
Thanks also to Tim White, director of Defying Gravity, who backed up some amazing playing with WASO on the weekend with our concert at WAAPA today.
Thanks for a great season!