This February, the Australian Youth Orchestra will give the world premiere concert performance of Australian composer Nigel Westlake’s The Glass Soldier.
Westlake composed the stunning score to accompany Hannie Rayson’s play by the same name which was performed by the Melbourne Theatre Company. The Glass Soldier is an orchestral suite of astonishing power and integrity. It was commissioned by Don Farrands in memory of his grandfather Nelson H. Ferguson who served in France as a Field Ambulance Officer in World War I.
This is the first time that the complete suite of five movements will be played. The orchestra, totalling 79 musicians (29 heralding from Victoria), will perform under Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Arvo Volmer.
Westlake looks forward to hearing his work performed in full, ‘I think of it like a film score – an epic love story, steeped in pathos, drama, tragedy and triumph against adversity, set against the backdrop of World War I. Having played in the Australian Youth Orchestra myself many years ago, I feel a special affinity with these young musicians. I can’t wait to hear this music finally brought to life by the youthful vitality and consummate musicianship of the AYO under Maestro Volmer.’
Also on the evening’s program is Stravinsky’s The Firebird: Suite (1919) and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for Left Hand.
Leading Melbourne-based pianist, Kristian Chong will perform Ravel’s 18-minute concerto. Commissioned by the Austrian concert pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during World War I, the piece, with its jazz-influenced rhythms and harmonies, is a testament to virtuosity and brilliance.