October 21 2017, Review by Len Power

The evening commenced with ‘Chambers Of The South’, composed by Natalie Williams in 2001. The work was inspired by a photograph of the Pleiades star cluster by astro-photographer David Malin at an exhibition in Adelaide in 1997. The colours and form of the formation are reflected in the different texture and tone colours of her composition. It’s a beautiful work, shimmering with atmosphere and colour and it was played extremely well by the orchestra.

It was followed by ‘Queen of Sheba’, a four movement suite by Ottorino Respighi from his epic 1932 ballet, ‘Belkis, Queen of Sheba’. As with other compositions by Respighi, it’s a highly visual work with sensual dance music and romantic themes creating a mysterious world around the story of Solomon and Sheba. The four movements vary considerably from romantic dream sequences to a war dance and leading to a final movement of orgiastic dance. The orchestra was impressive in the quieter sequences and the finale was spectacularly played with clarity and full colour.

Composed in 1887, the Brahms Double Concerto is apparently not frequently performed today, perhaps because of the requirement of two equally matched virtuosic performances. Both Dimity Hall and Julian Smiles showed that they were more than equal to the task, playing with precision and great feeling and supported with fine playing by the orchestra. This work may be more familiar from recordings but to see it played live gives it another dimension, watching the performers passing the melody back and forth, creating the illusion of a single instrument.

This was another evening of fine music by the National Capital Orchestra. The musical director, Leonard Weiss, took the opportunity during the concert to announce a particularly exciting program for 2018.

March 26 2017. Review by Len Power

In the National Capital Orchestra’s (NCO) first concert for 2017, the orchestra performed three very different works – “The Wood Nymph” by Jean Sibelius, the “Horn Concerto” by Reinhold Glière and Antonín Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 5”.

The tone poem, “The Wood Nymph” by Sibelius, was first performed in 1895 but, after disappearing for many years, it was finally published in 2006. The NCO performance of this work was an Australian premiere. It was good to have the opportunity to hear this unfamiliar work. The classic and appealing music of Sibelius was powerfully performed by the orchestra with clarity and charm.

Rob Gladstones joined the orchestra as horn soloist for the second work, Glière’s Horn Concerto in B flat major, Op. 91. Gladstones studied horn at the Canberra School of Music and now holds the position of Principal Third Horn with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Glière’s Horn Concerto premiered in 1951 and has become one of the most popular in the horn repertoire. Gladstones gave a strong solo performance and the orchestra accompanied him with very fine playing throughout.

The final work, the Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76 by Dvořák was composed in 1875. It’s a melodic work with great appeal and the orchestra performed it very well, especially the quieter passages of the second movement and the lively, dramatic finale.

Queanbeyan’s Q Theatre works very well as a concert venue. Audience members are close enough to the orchestra to hear the music crisp and clear.

The orchestra impressed with the quality of their playing and their confidence. Conductor, Leonard Weiss, has done excellent work with this very enjoyable concert.

Carmina Burana July 23 2016 Review by Jennifer Gall, Canberra Times

Forget shivers down the spine – it was a full body-tingling experience for the audience in the modulation from the penultimate Blanziflor et Helena into the concluding Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi and Llewellyn Hall reverberated with the climactic chorus of Carmina Burana. Leonard Weiss kept the orchestra, choir and soloists in precise accord throughout this magnificent, demanding performance. Jeremy Tatchell stepped in to replace David Greco, who was indisposed, and performed with his customary strength and vocal agility, particularly in the solo In Taberna: Estuans interius.Tobias Cole, wreathed in an evocative – perhaps also provocative – black feather boa, delivered his solo, Olim Lacus Colueram, with beauty and wit as well as inimitable style. Soprano Susannah Lawergren’s solos were distinctive for their purity and the clarity of her highest notes, contrasting with the more lascivious lyrics of the chorus and baritone.

Singing from the chorus was robust and included many memorable sections: the sopranos executed their high entries on cue in Floret Silva and the male unaccompanied chorus in Sie Puer cum Puellula was impressive. Perhaps the real sensation of the evening were the Turner Trebles, a band of young voices who conducted themselves with aplomb and sang with confident clarity. There were lovely moments from the flutes, the bassoons and the extremely hard-working percussion. In the first half of the evening, the opening work, Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, offered some challenging opportunities for the brass and served to bring the orchestra into focus for Sean O’Boyle’s River Symphony. Here the strings really asserted a warm, united sound and the cello and violin solos were welcome vignettes.

In a feast of choral and orchestral collaboration, River Symphony used the chorus and soloists in very different ways to Orff’s more structured score. The choir blended their voices to create intersecting currents and a sense of an eternally flowing journey through time as well as landscape. The soprano soloists sung by Lawergren and Sarahlouise Owens as Mother and Child of the River were well matched in their duet, Memory of the Sea, Riverflow and the River of Life. I wish that I liked the composition more than I do, but I’m afraid the writing often seemed derivative and reminiscent of the music accompanying 1970s films. However, the performance surpassed the limitations of the score and the musicians created something unique. It is this overwhelming spirit of commitment to the music and to each other as performers that infused the National Capital Orchestra and Canberra Choral Societies’ concert with integrity and guaranteed a great success.