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Newsletter No 2: 2018 Season

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From the President: Daniel Kirkham

Finland in 1925

I've always had a deep interest in maps, and have a particularly interesting volume that shows the geo-political history of Europe going back 3000 years. The maps show how the region we now know as Finland has been successively subjugated by the Swedes and the Russians. It was only the growing Finnish nationalist movement in the late 1800s that ultimately led to an independent Finnish nation in late 1917 — the timing a consequence of the October revolution in neighbouring Russia.

Our coming concert, Northern Lights, includes two of the most famous nationalistic works by the Finnish Sibelius. The Russian side of that ever-changing border is represented by the works of Tchaikovsky, the beautiful Variations on a Rococo Theme and his fourth Symphony.

So we invite you at this concert to sit back and think about the struggles of these two nations and at the same time, imagine the vast forests of Finland and Karelia with the colourful Aurora Borealis dancing away in the heavens above.

Daniel Kirkham
President, ZMSO Inc.

From the Artistic Director - Rick Prakhoff

I must begin this introduction to our second concert for 2018 with heartfelt congratulations to everybody who played in the first concert. Whilst not a perfect performance, it had everything I had asked of the orchestra — some beautiful phrasing and sensitive rubato, well-judged dynamics and nobody throwing down their instrument in despair and running out of the hall screaming!

It helped enormously to have a musician of the calibre and sensitivity of Caroline Almonte join us for the tricky Ravel G Major Piano Concerto but ultimately it came down to the orchestra pulling out all stops to make the whole programme a musical success. And now to the second concert — a totally different beast from the first. The excitement generated by the opening bars of Tchaikovsky’s great Symphony No.4 is anticipated by the concert opening with Sibelius’ dramatic Finlandia. Written in 1899 as a patriotic protest against Russian oppression, it is a wonderful showcase for the brass and horns in particular. The memorable tune that arrives quite late in the work became a nationalist anthem for Finns and remains so today.

While Finlandia was the work which truly launched Sibelius’ career, his Karelia Suite (originally eight movements) was written in 1893 and was his first real success as a composer. The three movement version performed today was created in 1899. Karelia is the region bordering Finland and Russia much of which was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1940 following Russia’s invasion of Finland in 1939.

We are joined by the dynamic cellist Svetlana Bogosavljevic for the lovely Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky. A delightful work for cello and reduced orchestral forces — a lovely contrast to the fireworks of Finlandia and the 4th Symphony. In composing his Rococo Variations, Tchaikovsky took advantage of the cello’s ability to sustain a long vocal line giving ample opportunities to the soloist to show off with many virtuosic moments.

And now to the magnificent 4th Symphony which demands attention right from the opening horn salvo, announcing the ‘fate’ theme. This is a justifiably popular work and I’m sure one which will top off a highly enjoyable programme for both players and audience alike. I’m really looking forward to putting this programme together with the orchestra — a real contrast to the demanding but rewarding first concert but a brilliant way to continue the year with a programme which shows off each section of the orchestra.

2018 Concert Season

All our concerts in 2018 are now on sale. Please go to our Concerts page for further details and booking links.

Northern Lights

8:00 pm, Saturday 19th May - Xavier College, Kew
Daylesford Town Hall - 2:00 pm, Sunday 20th May
Sibelius – Finlandia
Sibelius – Karelia Suite
Tchaikovsky – Variations on a Rococo Theme
Svetlana Bogosavljevic – cello
Tchaikovsky – Symphony No.4

Boroondara Eisteddfod Piano Concerto Award Final

2:00 pm, Sunday 17th June - Hawthorn Arts Centre
Program to be announced once finalists are determined.

From the Old World to the New

8:00 pm, Saturday 1st September - Xavier College, Kew
Dvořák – American Suite
Barber – Adagio for Strings
Barber – Canzonetta for Oboe & Strings
Martinů – Oboe Concerto
Nick Deutsch – oboe
Chris Pickering – Premiere of a new work
Dvořák – Symphony No.8

End Games

8:00 pm, Saturday 1st December - Camberwell Grammar School PAC
Haydn – Symphony No.104 in D major
Richard Strauss – Four Last Songs
Miriam Gordon-Stewart – soprano
Brahms – Symphony No.4

ABC Classic FM Broadcast

In another first for Zelman Symphony, on Sunday 22nd April ABC Classic FM broadcast the beautiful Elena Kats-Chernin Flute Concerto recorded at our Babi Yar Hamer Hall concert last September. The concerto, entitled Night and Now, was composed for and played by Sally Walker.

DVD and CD of Babi Yar Concert Available

The DVD of our Shostakovich Symphony No.13 Babi Yar is now on sale. We've had some wonderful feedback about it, some saying it is "world class". Go to to purchase your copy.

From the Concertmaster - Susan Pierotti

Orchestras are a bit like footy teams. There is the coach, most of whose work is done at training (or rehearsals), and the captain, who works with the coach’s ideas on the ground and encourages and leads the players in the game, or concert.

One of my roles is to liaise between conductor and orchestra in rehearsals, being a conductor’s second-in-command in a way. I am an extra pair of ears, an extra sounding board. Conductors have to listen to so many aspects of music that they cannot be expected to notice everything. For instance, in a certain piece, the conductor may be focusing on getting the brass to play together while I notice that the violins are playing sharper than the cellos.

The skill in being a concertmaster is to know when to deliver that information to the violins. Do I interrupt the rehearsal and the conductor’s train of thought now or do I leave it till we play it next week, when the violins may have practised it so that it is in tune? Choosing the moment relies much on the trust that the conductor and concertmaster have established between them.

I have worked with Rick Prakhoff, Zelman’s newly appointed conductor, over many years. As with our previous conductor, Mark Shiell, Rick makes my job easy as we respect each other’s musicianship and roles. If only all concertmasters and orchestras were this fortunate!

Player Profile - Elizabeth Clancy

Elizabeth Clancy was born into a musical family. Her father was a pianist and organist and her older siblings played violin, so it was not a surprise that she found the piano. At about two years of age she was already playing a “J major” scale!

Elizabeth started playing violin at three but commenced formal lessons at school with Margaret Griffiths. She later studied with Susan Pierotti (yes, our fantastic concertmaster) and Mary Nemet. She was a member of MYM’s Junior Strings through to MYO and participated in May Music Camps and Summer Schools.

Elizabeth commenced Engineering studies at Monash University in 1991, quickly joining Monash Philharmonic as Concertmaster and serving as President. She also became involved in theatre and ballroom dancing and played for CLOC and the G&S Society.

After university, music was pushed to the back seat for some years by full time work, dance competitions, further study, career changes and starting a family. Elizabeth found Zelman about four years ago and for the past 18 months has been joined by her daughter, Katie. Elizabeth also plays with Camberwell Camerata and Heidelberg Chorale amongst other groups, and co-coordinates music at her local church.

Elizabeth is a registered Psychologist and Research Fellow at Deakin and also maintains a small private practice. She is currently completing her PhD at Deakin.

Of Zelman, Elizabeth says “it gives me a chance to do something I love, to challenge myself and work towards goals, to practice and to play great music at a high standard. I’ve made some lovely new friends here, and now I get to share this experience with my daughter”.

Reviews of our Last Concert

We received two nice reviews for our last concert, which you can read at Concert Reviews.

Arts Hub’s Barbara Booth rated us ★★★★☆

Writing about the Ravel Piano Concerto, she said: “It was a breathtakingly passionate performance to which even Ravel would have bowed.”

About the orchestra, she wrote “The Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra has done it again and more than lived up to its reputation as a premier orchestra.”

Rick Prakhoff, our new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, also rated well: “… the audience departed exhilarated, in no small part due to the vitality and enthusiasm of Prakhoff which resonated throughout the orchestra.”

Bohemian Rhapsody Club’s Sylvester Kroyher was equally complimentary.

Audience members were heard to say things in the foyer and after the concert like:
“It was great to see so many young people in the orchestra.” (Our age range at present is 13 to 87!)
“Fantastic concert.”
“The orchestra is getting better all the time.”
“Amazing Soloist.”
“Excellent new conductor.”

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Page last modified on May 06, 2018, at 10:46 PM