Battling the acoustics, the orchestra shines through

“Firebird”, The Q, 24 March 2024.

Its first concert for the 2024 Visions series, Firebird was conducted by musical director Louis Sharpe and presented a jam-packed program of Prokofiev and Stravinsky alongside the works of two esteemed local composers… the orchestra was able to deliver a commendable and overall enjoyable performance.

Photo by Frank Ingwersen.

Reviewed by Dante Costa for Canberra CityNews

National Capital Orchestra strong and on the mark

“American Melodies”, Albert Hall, 12 November 2023.

The NCO was strong and on the mark in… all the pieces performed. The low strings were exceptionally fine. 2024 looks to be a huge year for the NCO. With music-making like this and their smart programming, they will be bringing in greater audiences.

Photo by Peter Hislop.

Reviewed by Rob Kennedy for Canberra CityNews

Orchestra triumphs in ambitious concert

“Hope, Struggle, Victory”, Albert Hall, 24 September 2023.

Photo by Peter Hislop

This ambitious concert was presided over by music director Louis Sharpe, who was affable and communicative with his audience, stressing the community aspect of its work, although in reality presenting music of great complexity. The afternoon began with a Canberra premiere of Melbourne composer Nat Bartsch’s composition “Hope”… allowing for exciting work from the horns and brass, of which we were to see far more.

The centrepiece of the day was Shostakovich’s cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, composed after Stalin’s death. The soloist was the brilliant young ANU cello (and mathematics and physics) student, James Monro, who has been winning prizes and accolades all around town this year… The final allegro con moto, where the full orchestra returned, featured some brilliant horn work before Monro brought the work to a dazzling conclusion, to wild acclaim.

If you thought the Shostakovich was difficult enough for a community orchestra, Tchaikovsky Symphony Number 4 in F Minor was, if anything, even more difficult… the thoroughly enjoyable concert ended on a triumphal, hopeful note.

Reviewed by Helen Musa for Canberra CityNews

Orchestra anniversary big, penetrating and thrilling

“Anniversaries”, Albert Hall, 25 June 2023.

Photo by Peter Hislop.

Under music director Louis Sharpe, they began with “Through Healers’ Eyes” by the Ukrainian-Australian composer, Catherine Likhuta. Dramatic bell tolling, pounding timpani, deep, dark brass and an elusive, almost threatening tune swelled this opening work.

The huge orchestra, with many percussion instruments, piano and booming brass above the other players on stage, all created a fanfare of music that belied the gentle title of this piece. Epic stuff.

The “Paganini Variations”, by Sergei Rachmaninoff with soloist Kristian Chong on piano is an exhilarating work. Chong is a captivating pianist with thrilling technical and emotional brilliance.

Through this demanding long work, the NCO created a powerful sound… For a community orchestra, they punch above their weight. Sharpe had them sounding at their best

Reviewed by Rob Kennedy for Canberra CityNews

Four seasons with a Canberra feeling

Haydn’s “The Seasons”, with the Canberra Choral Society. Llewellyn Hall, 1 April 2023.

Photo by Peter Hislop.

The orchestra portrayed the lively imagery of nature in bloom with gentle ornamentation in the woodwinds and sprightly sounds in the strings… Overall, it was a thrilling performance and great to see local musicians celebrating the nation’s capital by modernising music and giving it a Canberran twist.

Reviewed by Dante Costa for Canberra CityNews

Orchestra’s bright concert of cheerful music

Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 / Elena Kats-Chernin’s “Night and Now” Concerto for flute and orchestra, The Q, 13 November 2022.

Photo by Peter Hislop

The National Capital Orchestra created a joyful experience when they performed Symphony No. 2 by Brahms to a large audience… As it built towards the end of the final few bars, sweeping all before it away, the pounding timpani, and the whole orchestra created an incredible volume as the brass drove them all to a compelling finish.

Teresa Rabe’s solo performance contained many tricky techniques, plus floating lines and playful passages, which created a sensational musical journey… The NCO was totally on song and sounded strong throughout.

Teresa Rabe and the National Capital Orchestra directed by Louis Sharpe. Photo by Peter Hislop.

Reviewed by Rob Kennedy for Canberra CityNews