AYO National Music Camp 2012: Blog 4
By Courtney Day
After a high-protein breakfast of eggs, baked beans and coffee, the WAMmers met with MSO librarian and board director Alastair McKean, to discuss the art of program note writing and pre-concert talk presenting. None of us were sure what to expect from a discussion with a librarian – Dewey decimal system anyone? – but Alastair’s talk was animated and quirky, with a huge amount of wit and intelligence to boot!
By day’s end, it was time for the first concert of camp. The tutor chamber music concert opened with three movements from Bellon’s Quintet No. 1 for Brass. The ensemble included an unusual instrument, the ophicleide, played by Nick Byrne, along with two cornets, horn and trombone. Lively rhythms were juxtaposed with lyrical melodic sections and full harmonies – all that which brass instruments do well!
A vital and energetic performance of Anton Steiner’s string sextet arrangement of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante followed. An epitome of chamber playing, the performers were beautifully balanced, and were clearly interacting with one another, rather than engaging in a contest of domination and submission.
Two 20th century works completed the program (hooray for modern-ish music!): Academy Award-winning film composer Nino Rota’s Quintet for flute, oboe, viola, cello and harp inhabited a ‘narrative’ sound world, conjuring images of woodland scenes. The timbral textures created by this instrumental combination were whimsical. The central movement also began with a gorgeous viola solo by AYO camper Katie Yap.
Stravinsky’s Petrushka, in an arrangement for condensed instrumental forces, was the only conducted work. By way of introduction, maestro Christopher Seaman gave a remarkably concise summary of the story of the ballet, and a brilliant vocal imitation of Petrushka’s ‘laugh’ motif. The piece garnered a standing ovation from the audience, so campers went to bed enthused and inspired.