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Newsletter No 2: 2015 Season

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From the President: Daniel Kirkham

Welcome to our second 2015 Audience newsletter!

I write this as the dramatic themes and intensely beautiful strains of the Verdi Requiem are still whirling around my head... it certainly was a thrill to present this most operatic work to a near capacity audience with the choir and four world-class soloists at Melbourne Town Hall. We received some wonderful feedback from the concert, which you can read in this newsletter and on our website; there is also Mark's usual fascinating commentary, our player profile and a piece on our upcoming Emerging Composer.

Our two September concerts will feature Geoffrey Payne, Principal Trumpet in the MSO, and Beethoven's mighty Eroica Symphony. Need we say, "Book now"? In the lead up to these concerts, 3MBS-FM will be broadcasting our March concert featuring Roman Ponomariov with the Struass Horn Concerto on Sunday 13th September at 8.00pm.

Daniel Kirkham
President, ZMSO Inc.

Player Profile: Greg Hannan

Greg began his musical education and appreciation from an early age learning both the recorder and piano. With encouragement from his grandfather, an accomplished cornet player and Band Master, Greg began learning the Bassoon whilst still at primary school with hands barely large enough for his fingers to reach the keys on the instrument.

His aptitude for the Bassoon was immediately apparent. After learning the instrument for only 10 weeks, he auditioned for Camberwell Grammar School and was awarded a music scholarship. The school provided an excellent grounding in instrumental, orchestral and ensemble playing as well as choral works. It was whilst playing in the orchestras for school musical productions that he first developed his interest in musical theatre.

Although Greg went on to study Computer Science at Melbourne University, he continued his strong interest in music, playing in a variety of youth and chamber orchestras and eventually joining Zelman Symphony. He also continued pursuing his musical theatre interests playing in orchestras for over 80 musical productions with a number of companies around Melbourne.

It was with the Loyola Musical Society that he first developed a taste for musical direction taking on the role of Chorus Master. This was soon followed by the role of Musical Director and Conductor for two productions with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Victoria — HMS Pinafore and Ruddigore. He was subsequently appointed as the Musical Director and Conductor of the Savoy Opera Company — a role he enjoyed for a number of years and where he conducted most of the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.

During the past 10 years, the pressures of raising a family and running his own Information Technology Consultancy have greatly curtailed Greg’s musical theatre activities. This has seen him concentrate his musical interests almost exclusively on Zelman Symphony although he will return to the role of Musical Director and Conductor for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of Patience this October.

Kudos for ZMSO Proudly Quoted

Bohemian Rhapsody Club's reviewer, Irina Ivanova, wrote of the orchestra's Verdi Requiem performance with Star Chorale, Box Hill Chorale and four fabulous soloists: "The orchestra plays with true passion, releasing the depths of artistry and pampering the taste buds of musical connoisseurs" and "... beautiful and striking notes from the excellent Zelman Symphony."

Sylvester Kroyherr, reviewed our March concert for Bohemian Rhapsody Club writing that: "The massive Symphony No.1 by Brahms followed the interval with the orchestra generating commanding contrasts between throbbing and energetic themes and mysterious haunting passages. With some well presented staccato sections from the violins, the first movement finished majestically. In the second movement, the interplay between the strings and woodwinds was well rounded with some sweet passages from the solo violin (Mary Johnston). Flowing into a gentle march like rhythm in the third movement, the clarinets and the plucking of the cellos was very effective, finishing the section with bounce and sparkle. As expected, the finale began energetically which eventually built up to Brahms' so called "most noble melodies" — beautifully handled by the violins. Maintaining energetic momentum, the orchestra finished the symphony with exuberance and style."

Message from the Artistic Director

There is a fascinating film which documents the Berlin Philharmonic on tour in Asia with Sir Simon Rattle. It’s called Trip to Asia and I have watched it several times. In the film, strong parallels are drawn between the demands of the life of an orchestral musician with the immersive and meditative practices of the Zen Arts in Japan. The rigour and discipline required are common themes as is the quality of presence reaching towards ever greater sensitivity and skill. It’s fascinating stuff.

What appealed to me strongly was the theme of dedication and immersion in the process involved. An approach in which the individual isn't the focus so much as the art form itself. As a musician I never want to feel that music making is subject to a sense of routine. Routine is death for aliveness in music — "I play it this way because I always have!" Never was there a less inspired approach to making great music come alive in the here and now. We are handed great music through the medium of printed notes on paper. They live through us in a more or less inspired fashion. How do we find the way to ignite the music? I think it's the matter of a kind of deep listening. An openness to interpreting what is on the page that is beyond simply a routine rendering of signs and symbols in print. We are reaching to find the essence of the music and then to understand the reasons for all those signs and symbols.

That's why I think the most important question a musician can ask when looking at a piece of music is WHY? Why did the composer choose those instruments at that moment, why is there a crescendo, etc., etc. There is something both intellectual and mysterious happening. You can see how banal 'routine' might seem in an environment such as this. We don't need to be the Berlin Philharmonic to love the process of delving deeply into great music. At Zelman Symphony, we don't just rehearse to 'get it done', we rehearse because we love to discover the essence of great works. One can't be in too much of a hurry on a journey of discovery. Enjoy your own deep listening at our concerts!

Mark Shiell,
Artistic Director & Principal Conductor, ZMSO Inc

Introducing Harry Sdraulig

Our September concerts will see the premiere of Sinfonietta by Harry Sdraulig, the 2015 Zelman Symphony/Melbourne University Emerging Composer. In this vignette, Harry gives us an insight into his musical thinking and personality:

I am delighted to be composing a new work for Zelman Symphony, one of the finest and most adventurous community orchestras in Melbourne. Orchestral composition is always something I look forward to immensely — the scale and variety of colours and textures available to the orchestral composer are endless. But equally, orchestras have a rich, established tradition of works to draw upon and perform, and a deep understanding of this repertoire is essential for any aspiring orchestral composer. As a trumpeter and conductor, I’ve had the privilege of rehearsing and performing many of these works — which is as good an education as any!

For me, the gravitational power of tonality is the most powerful force in music, and this is something which is fundamental to my composition style. The sounds of the individual instruments themselves are created from the naturally occurring harmonic series, a phenomenon from which tonality is derived. I use the term 'tonality' in the very broadest sense — my music is rarely in a readily identifiable 'key', but the notion of different intervallic or modal relationships being used to establish a tonal centre or consistent harmonic palette remains strong. I am especially interested in pushing tonality and chromaticism to its limits, always trying to maintain a rich, imaginative and varied harmonic language that is capable of expressing a wide range of moods and feeling.

When composing a new work, I always carefully consider the intended performer and audience. Part of my artistic intention is always to compose music which gives the players a vehicle to showcase the very best of their musicality and strengths, and this project for Zelman Symphony is no different! I very much feel that the composer is only one part of a three-way relationship between the composer, performers and audience, all of whom are equally important to the success of any new work. I hope that this collaboration will be an enjoyable and musically rewarding experience for all of us!

Our 2015 Season - Xavier Concert Series

Tickets are now on sale for our three remaining subscription concerts at the Eldon Hogan Performing Arts Centre, Xavier College, Kew.

Classic Trumpet - Two Performances
8.00pm Saturday 19 September
2.30pm Sunday 20 September

Mozart − Wind Serenade No.11, K.375
Harry Sdraulig − Sinfonietta
Haydn − Trumpet Concerto, Geoffrey Payne, Trumpet
Beethoven − Symphony No.3 Eroica

Russian Dance - 8.00pm Saturday 5 December

Tchaikovsky − Suite from The Nutcracker
Elena Kats-Chernin − Flute Concerto Night and Now, Sally Walker, Flute.
Rachmaninov − Symphonic Dances

The Kats-Chernin Concerto has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Book online at, call 8899 7445 for credit card bookings by phone, or download the booking form from our website and mail it with your cheque.

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Page last modified on August 24, 2015, at 06:56 PM