Tuesday, May 12, 2015


A young woman visiting Sydney from Vancouver had a musical experience last Sunday I suspect she will never forget. The Australian Piano Quartet gave a concert in the Utzon Room of the Sydney Opera House, a small intimate space with a nice acoustic and big windows looking out over the Sydney Harbour towards the Botanic Gardens.  I was sitting next to the Vancouver visitor who said she had arrived in Australia four hours ago on a job-reconnaissance trip and had wanted to go to a concert while she was here.  She had never been to a classical concert before but this was the only music event she could find. (The opera house was very quiet and I wondered if people don't go to concerts on Mother's Day?)

Program with sketch of
Rebecca Chan
The string members of the Quartet (Rebecca Chan-Violin, James Wannan-Viola, Thomas Rann-Cello) played Beethoven's String Trio in G major then pianist Daniel de Borah joined them to play Jack Symonds Respondorium.
UTS Frank Gehry Building
Jack Symonds is a young Australian composer who happened to be sitting on my other side. He jumped up to tell us that his piece was written in response to the new Frank Gehry Building at University of Technology Sydney and explained how it sought to reproduce the crumpled facade and brick curves. The players started this intense piece in different corners of the room and moved to the middle as the piece progressed, giving an ethereal spacial quality that would be difficult to reproduce in any other way.

I turned to the woman from Vancouver at interval to see how she was enjoying the concert to find that her eyes were shining.
"Oh this is amazing," she said. "I never knew music could make you feel this way."

The audience had clapped at every pause in the Beethoven piece and I liked the response of the APQ. They smiled but didn't look diverted and then in introducing the next half their spokesman said "There are many people here who don't often come to classical concerts. We are delighted to see you here and  we hope you will come again."(Their next Utzon Room concerts are in August, October and December.)

I didn't look at my Vancouver neighbour during the wonderfully played and hauntingly beautiful Schumann Piano Quartet in E-flat-major Op 47 but I could imagine how touched she must be feeling.

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