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28 March, 2021

REVIEW: Queensland Symphony Orchestra delights, stirs and delivers

It was a very typical, tropical evening at the Cairns Tanks Art Centre last Friday (March 26). The humid atmosphere hung heavy, as 500 eager classical music patrons queued for the performance of ‘Bolero and Beyond’ by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

By Peter McCullagh

What surprised me was the diversity of ages attending. Pre-school aged children eagerly and most willingly, through to retirees and all aged in between, the attraction of the QSO was most evident.

To a packed and appreciative audience, approximately 500, the QSO Connect Ensemble took to the stage, albeit slightly late, but totally forgiven by the audience.

The 90-minute performance started strongly with a selection from Bizet’s Carmen. An exciting program followed. We were entertained, enthralled, and amused throughout the performance.

Classical classics were not the only pieces performed on the night. We were treated to a program spanning the eras, Glenn Miller’s ‘In The Mood’, a soulful rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ through to a stirring and toe-tapping version of Joplin’s ‘Entertainer’. We must not forget that Gershwin made an appearance as well.

A musical evening of light and shade, diversity of emotion, but most of all an evening where we as the audience were treated to one of the finest orchestra ensembles in Australia.

Many of the classics were written for full orchestration. The QSO 13-piece ensemble consisting of brass, woodwind, string, and percussion captured the essence of each piece. Expertly arranged and adapted for the ensemble and beautifully interpreted and performed to most appreciative audience.

The finale came with ‘Bolero’, from Ravel. This is perhaps one of the most memorable orchestral compositions ever. Simply beautiful and stirring, interpreted with emotion, and performed with gusto. A standing ovation and thunderous applause were the result.

When we thought we had reached a musical pinnacle, we were treated to a magnificent encore performance of Brahm’s ‘Hungarian Dance No. 5’.  No better piece could have been chosen to showcase the skills of this amazing ensemble. Originally composed as a piano piece by Brahms, later super-sized for a full orchestration, the QSO’s Ensemble did it no shame. Wildly energetic, remarkably soft, and totally stirring.

It was an amazing evening, The Tanks Art Centre a suitable acoustic venue for a performance of this nature. What worked on the evening was the intimacy of the performance, 500 guests, 13 super- talented musicians and 90 minutes of beautiful music, interpreted and performed by Queensland’s finest.

Please come back, next time the Concert Hall at CPAC would be the ideal venue for the full orchestra.

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