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Newsletter No 1: 2016 Season

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From the President: Daniel Kirkham

Welcome to our 2016 Season! This year for the first time we will be presenting four concerts in our regular season, each with fine Melbourne- based soloists. Two of these concerts will also be presented in country centres, including Healesville for the first time. In our fifth concert, we continue our long history of supporting the amazing young pianists in the Boroondara Eisteddfod. We look forward to seeing you at these concerts, and trust you will enjoy them as much as we enjoy putting them on for you. I would like to pay tribute to Allan Schurmann, who has retired from playing after a mere 55 years with the orchestra. In this newsletter, Allan reflects on the many changes in the orchestra since 1961 – a great read.

I would also like to pay tribute to two members of the orchestra who passed away early in the new year: Annette Martin who played cello with us for several years, and whose last concert with us was the Verdi Requiem last year; and Maureen Higgs, who was my warm and welcoming viola desk partner when I joined the orchestra in 1989. Vale Annette and Maureen.

Daniel Kirkham
President, ZMSO Inc.

From the Artistic Director

I have a confession. I have a weakness for great quotes. But they have to be good ones. Try today’s discovery - "The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire." Thank you Mr Jung. I really liked this one and not because it is necessarily true for every person in every situation of course. I'm not a fan of the one belief system fits all approach to humanness. I digress.

I like it because it reminds me of one reason that I love making music. It takes time, patience, growth and many other words too which also signify the character building reality that is the process of making great music... greatly. It's a never ending spiral gradually moving upward. We conquer a new skill or technique and feel on top of the world for a bit. It may have been a long journey to reach that point and it feels great but then we discover that we are at the bottom of the next spiral. It's simultaneously daunting and inspiring. Always room for growth and always humbling (or at least it should be). If it doesn't humble you then chances are that you may not have even grasped yet just how much you still don't know.

Why do I like the fire quote? Well it seems to me that walking through the fire is a great analogy not only for rehearsal but also of a musician’s life. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow, develop and improve.

Persistence is the walk. May technology NEVER take this character building, wonderful process away from us. It makes us so appreciative of what great composers give us and what great performers give us too. I begin to feel that I sound old fashioned when I say that I hope that the world of quick answers available to us thanks to Google does not eventually make us lose sight of the value of great things which take TIME to develop. Not only the time to develop the art and skill itself but also the time to develop and grow US.


55 Years with Zelman Symphony

Allan Schurmann recently announced his retirement after playing with Zelman Symphony for 55 years. Fortunately, he is continuing as a committee member. We asked him to reflect on his long and devoted period with the orchestra.

I first heard of the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra in 1961, when my clarinet coach, Isobel Carter, suggested I consider joining the clarinet section (non-existent at the time!); I have a sneaking suspicion that this was Isobel’s way of trying to get me to “work a little harder” on my music and a little less on my sport!

The recollection I have of the first rehearsal I attended, upstairs in the Victorian Artists Society Building in Albert Street, East Melbourne, was of a small but very enthusiastic group of amateur musicians; the Orchestra was undermanned in all sections (except flutes). This situation gradually improved, but in the early years of my involvement, MSO colleagues of our Conductor , Paul McDermott, were engaged to make up our numbers at concert time! Concerts in the 1960’s were mainly held in the Assembly Hall, Collins Street, Melbourne or at the Artists Society.

When I joined the Orchestra in 1961, three members of Alberto Zelman’s original MSO were still playing and actively involved in the administration of the Orchestra (Oonagh Griffin – Secretary/Violin; Helen Calcutt – Librarian/Violin; Dorothy Roxburgh – Viola). What dedication!

In 1984, Don Fairweather (Viola) wrote the book “your friend Alberto Zelman”, an excellent record of the history of Alberto Zelman and the Orchestra. It was a privilege to have been President at the time. The launch of Don’s book by Geoffrey Blainey at the Melbourne Savage Club was a great social and musical occasion.

Over the years, the Orchestra has given some wonderful concerts, featuring internationally renowned local and overseas artists; all are worthy of mention, but where to start! Who will forget the great Barry Tuckwell volunteering to fill-in on 4th Horn in Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns at a 2006 Concert. Amazing!

In my opinion, the three Conductors that have been most instrumental in bringing the Orchestra to where it is today are Leon La Gruta, who succeeded Paul McDermott and brought the Orchestra to full symphonic capability with all sections appropriately filled, Phillip Carrington, who conducted the Orchestra for over 20 stable and enjoyable years, and of course, our current Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Mark Shiell, who has raised and continues to raise the standard of the Orchestra.

Thinking of all the concerts over these 55 years, the most memorable and exciting ones for me were the Orchestra’s two performances of Mahler’s 8th Symphony to packed houses at the Melbourne Town Hall in September 2013 on the 80th Anniversary of the Orchestra. To have the opportunity to hear this magnificent work is one thing, but to actually play in it was both humbling and amazing!

It is a privilege to have been a member of the Orchestra for such a long time and I am eternally grateful to Isobel Carter for encouraging me to join the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra all those years ago.

The Orchestra of today is a far cry from the one I joined in 1961!

Player Profile: Henry Silver

I could almost say that music has pursued me rather than vice versa. I'm told that I could play tunes on the piano at the age of three. It seems that a year or so later, I proudly announced that world renowned Basso Profundo, Fydor Chaliapin was singing from the cemetery, not from a radio; after all that's where he resided. When we emigrated from Poland to Melbourne, my experiences with dour dowager piano teachers was less than scintillating. This, combined with the uncoolness of classical music at school, meant that the moths made more impact on my piano than I did.

After my schooling then forays into world travel and casual employment, I rediscovered the piano. Having dabbled in science at University, I finally settled on becoming a music and English High School teacher. I commenced this career at Tallangatta High school in 1979 and finished as Performing Arts Director at Mentone Girls' Secondary College in 2006. Since then I have done short term teaching contracts at a variety of schools as well as assessed VCE English for VCAA.

In 1977 I decided to take up the oboe under Nancy Simons then Norman Weiner. I joined Zelman Symphony in 1997 when one of my daughters played the Haydn Cello Concerto under the baton of Phillip Carrington.

As well as playing in the orchestra, tutoring and exam assessing, I'm a keen bike rider and adventure traveler. Last year was particularly exciting with trips to Antarctica, Peru and down the Franklin River.

I have four grown children one of whom is a builder. The other three are professional musicians playing in three state orchestras. I'm reminded of a quote from Macbeth; "thou shalt get kings though thou be none".

While I may be a bit of a musical all rounder, It's music that's been all around me.

Zelman Symphony's Hamer Hall Debut

We are very proud of our successful Hamer Hall debut on 3rd January playing for the 13th Polish International Arts Festival. We had the privilege of accompanying international star pianist Martin Sobula who played there with the MSO two years ago. With us, he played Chopin’s first piano concerto brilliantly and complimented Mark on his conducting and us on our playing. We hope to play there again one day.

Our 2016 Season

Full details and booking links for our five concert 2016 season are at Dates and program highlights are:

Saturday March 5, 8pm: Xavier College
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1: Hoang Pham
Tchaikovsky Symphony No.1

Saturday May 21, 8pm: Hawthorn Arts Centre
Sunday May 22, 2pm: Daylesford Town Hall
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto: Kathryn Taylor
Beethoven Symphony No.7

Sunday 19 June, 2pm: Hawthorn Arts Centre
Boroondara Eisteddfod Piano Concerto Award Final

Saturday September 10, 8pm: Xavier College
All American program, including:
Copland Clarinet Concerto: Philip Arkinstall

Saturday December 3, 8pm: Xavier College
Sunday November 27, 2pm: The Memo Healesville
Grieg Piano Concerto: Stefan Cassomenos
Sibelius Symphony No.2

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Page last modified on March 03, 2016, at 09:09 PM