The NRSO is featuring two of its own flute players as soloists in the upcoming concert, Classical Reunion. Here, we find out more about Joanna Sullivan and Noelle McAlister.
1: When did you start playing the flute and what has drawn you to this instrument? Do you play any other instruments?
Joanna: I had played the recorder quite seriously since I was about 6 years old, taught by my next-door neighbour. Her sister was the famous Australian composer and flute player, Anne Boyd. When I first saw her flute at 11 years of age, I fell in love with it and started playing flute. Later on, we even played duets together! I was also very fortunate to go to Blackburn High School in Melbourne which happened to be one of the first schools in the country to introduce the American band system, so I received lessons at school. I also play piano, well enough to accompany my students to about grade 6 level.
Noelle: I started playing the flute when I was 10 years old. In fact, I used to be one of Joanna’s students. I chose the flute because it was shiny! I also play saxophone and clarinet.
2: The NRSO is very fortunate to have you perform with us regularly. How were you introduced to the NRSO and when did you join this orchestra? What do you normally do in your “day job”?
Noelle: I started playing piccolo and 3rd flute with the NRSO since 2006 and became a regular player about 10 years ago.
In my day job, I teach the flute at All Saints Anglican School, The Southport School and privately at my home studio. I also do a lot of musical theatre work, being in demand as a doubler (playing up to 5 instruments in one show).
Joanna: I first played with the NRSO about 20 years ago when I was invited by Rob Phelp, the bass player. I then re-joined 10 years ago when I was invited back to play 2nd flute. By day I teach flute at All Saints Anglican School and have a busy private studio.
3: Please tell us about a memorable concert that you’ve performed in and why it was so special?
Joanna: I have been fortunate to play two Mozart concertos with the Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra at The Arts Centre Gold Coast. I also loved the experience of playing the Bach Brandenburg Concerto for Two Flutes with Anna Stoddart and the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Spiros Rantos.
Noelle: The most memorable performance I’ve done was when I was asked to play solo flute on a boat at Sanctuary Cove. I assumed that ‘boat’ meant ‘luxury yacht’, but upon my arrival I discovered I was to sit in a small wooden rowboat in the middle of a pond and play my flute for two hours.
4: In this concert you are performing together in the Concerto in G minor for Two Flutes by J.J. Quantz. How long does it take you to prepare for this program and how often do you have to rehearse together?
Noelle: Joanna and I get together and play duets once a week – we have been doing this for about 10 years now. We have been preparing for this concerto together since the beginning of last year.
Joanna: This concerto was programmed in one of the NRSO concerts in 2020, but then COVID-19 hit. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform it at an informal concert at All Saints Anglican school with a small chamber orchestra.
AUDIENCE REVIEW OF NORTHERN RIVERS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
‘ROMANTIC LANDSCAPES’ – 27.10.2019
Conductor: Camillio Manricks. Concertmaster: Alison Fletcher. Soloist: Vicky Hong
Take wonderful music from two of the world’s finest composers, played by the leading community orchestra in our area, led by a fine musician, and conducted by a man who has lived with this music for the whole of his working life…..the audience knew they were in for a real treat. Add to that mix a very experienced soloist, the pianist Vicky Hong, and we had a concert to remember.
The dramatic opening chords of Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” played with absolute precision took us into the turbulent musical world of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, a world of violence, murder, heroism, cries for mercy and ultimately tragic death. The NRSO rose to the mayhem splendidly, giving us a very rousing start.
Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 20 in D minor (K466) followed, a complete change of mood, though there is also drama enough. It was beautifully played by Vicky Hong, with wonderful contrasts of light and shade, of cascades of notes, with quieter lingering melodies, and lovely echoing duets with the woodwind. Conductor and soloist were clearly at one throughout, and the balance between soloist and orchestra was excellent, the orchestra playing with a warm rich tone, but always allowing the piano sound to come through. Both cadenzas were played with virtuoso brilliance, and there was a spontaneous roar of applause from the audience at the final notes.
The second half, was Beethoven’s Symphony no 3, the “Eroica”. The fact that it is well known, doesn’t make it any easier to play, and the fast passages are very quick indeed! The easy option for the conductor would be to slow up the speeds and give his players a more comfortable ride. Cam wisely conducted it as Beethoven intended, to the very limit of what was possible in 1803 – and also to a large extent in 2019! This gave the audience a thrilling ride in the outer movements. The orchestra rose to the challenge and played throughout these movements with dexterity and precision, without a note out of place, and plenty of dynamic contrast. The Funeral March had gravity and dignity, benefiting from the strong dark tone of the lower strings. Overall, a dramatic and exciting performance, full of energy and passion, richly deserving the standing ovation of a very appreciative full house.
The NRSO goes from strength to strength. It carries no passengers amongst its players, and attracts musicians from a very wide area, of all ages, who are fiercely loyal, some regularly traveling a considerable distance to play. Top conductors are delighted to work with the orchestra. However, just as important is the expertise and hard work of the management team over many years, and those who operate the “front of house”. It is not just the great music that is guaranteed at a NRSO concert, it is also the warm welcome as you step into the foyer, the feeling that you are part of a large group of friends who all share a love of music. You can wear what you like, you can be as young or as old as you are, you can clap when you feel you want to, you won’t go hungry or thirsty in the interval, you can leap to your feet at the end and cheer your head off with approval. And even if it’s not actually at the end, no-one will “tut-tut” with disapproval! Congratulations to the whole team, and very best wishes for 2020
The NRSO is thrilled to present Romantic Landscapes on Sunday 27th October 2019, featuring Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 performed by Gold Coast soloist and piano teacher Vicky Hong. She was also the accompanist for the Australian Youth Choir and pianist for the Allegro Trio. Here, we ask Vicky to tell us a little bit about herself.
How did you decide on the piano as your instrument, and do you play any other instruments?
When I was 3 years old, my dad discovered that I had “perfect pitch” which means I could tell any note just by listening to it (Mozart had it too; it is supposed to be present in 1 per 20,000 people). Consequently, he started teaching me piano. As I became older I appreciate this ability even more – it helps to speed my music learning and increases my musicality.
I have always enjoyed playing the piano, and being a pianist was my only choice of career. Once, I did wonder what my life would have been like if I had done some other things, but I quickly realised that music was a lucky choice for me.
I also learned guitar in high school and played it quite well because of my piano foundation, but it hurt my fingers so much that eventually I stopped.
You started earning money by playing piano from the age of 13. Can you tell us how this came about?
Growing up in China, when I was in grade 8 or 9, I wanted to earn pocket money during summer holidays. My classmate’s mother was a pianist and piano teacher who also performed at a hotel lobby with a trio group. In exchange for performing her son’s composition at school, I persuaded her to let me play gigs at the hotel so that I could earn some money. She warned me that they could give me any music to play on the spot, and if I didn’t ensemble well with the violinist and the cellist, I would lose the job. Thankfully I was quick with sight reading, so I got to keep the job, and she let me play 1-2 nights each week. That was also the beginning of my chamber music career.
Please tell us about a memorable performance you’ve had – when and where was it, and what was special about it?
It had to be when I was performing in Melba Hall at University of Melbourne. I was performing Schumann’s “Carnival”. There was a dark and intense moment in the music, and I was performing with my eyes closed (I do that a lot in my performance). As the music opened up, I also opened my eyes, to find that the hall was really dark, and then it began to light up again. I thought I was dreaming because I was so involved in that musical moment. Later on at the post-concert reception, everyone came up and asked me how I had arranged the light effect during my performance. Eventually I found out it was due to a faulty light, but a really perfect one!
Why did you choose to perform Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 with the NRSO, and what should we be listening out for?
I won a Mozart competition performing his D minor Concerto when I was studying at Queensland Conservatorium of Music. It is one of my favourite concertos. I’d always be listening for the grace and drama in Mozart’s music.
About our conductor, Camillio Manricks
Camillio’s music education began in Sri-Lanka (Ceylon) before going on to the USA to further his cello studies.
In 1972 he accepted an invitation from the Australian Broadcasting Cooperation to join the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. During his 18 yrs with the QSO he was also kept busy outside the orchestra with recording, playing chamber music, teaching privately & tutoring the Queensland Youth Orchestra.
Camillio left the QSO in 1990 to further develop The Modern String Quartet and The Manricks Connection, groups he promoted and directed. He also conducted and taught in private & public schools including spending a year out west in Charleville.
He also established Manricks Music, a violin shop he owned and operated, in South Brisbane (2000/7).
During his time with the QSO he had the opportunity to study conducting with Mr Werner Andreas Albert and Mr Dobbs Franks. After retiring to the Gold Coast he was invited to conduct the Gold
Coast Chamber Orchestra, and in late 2018 was appointed the conductor of the Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra.
Among his many memorable musical highlights would be the performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique with Vladimir Ponkin, (QSO), playing principal cello for The Australian Ballet’s Australian Tour of Swan Lake, and organising, directing and conducting The Suzuki Pan Pacific Conference at QPAC in 1996.
Camillio now lives at Nobby Beach with his wife Jeanette. They enjoy life by the beach watching the whales go by and spending time visiting seven lovely grandchildren.
A Touch of Italy
Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra is proud to present a very special concert featuring a mother and son duo, Patricia Bellasi and Marco Bellasi.
Originally from Australia, Patricia was a primary music teacher but decided early on that her first love was singing, and after being inspired by Italian opera and singers such as Renata Tebaldi, she decided to travel to Italy. Whilst there, she did an audition at the Florentine conservatorium and was accepted in the class of Madame Desderi, who later became an international star. After five years of intense study and work, she completed her degree with the highest marks and then won a competition to enter the chorus at Maggio Musicale. She later worked full-time at La Scala opera theatre in Milan for 24 years whilst raising her son. Patricia now lives in Coolangatta with her husband Massimo, and she also enjoyed performing in Aida on the Beach in 2017 with Opera Australia.
Patricia will join on stage with her son, prize-winning conductor Marco Bellasi. Marco graduated in conducting at Milan Conservatoire ‘Giuseppe Verdi’ in 2007 and recently finished his appoinment as a Junior-Fellow conductor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, U.K. He has worked with several prominent orchestras including the BBC, Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras and Manchester Camerata. He is currently the musical director of the Oldham Symphony Orchestra in England.
The NRSO is delighted to welcome our first international guest conductor Marco Bellasi, and we look forward to showcasing a stunning aria, overture to The Force of Destiny by Verdi, featuring the conductor’s mum, soprano Patricia Bellasi. Later in the program, we see our very own NRSO musicians Karen Ruprecht and Neil Heymink display their talent in the Concerto for Two Bassoons by Johann Baptist Vanhal. “A Touch of Italy” is on Sunday 28th July 2019, 2.30pm at Tweed Heads Civic Centre. For tickets please visit nrso.com.au.
Biography: Karen Ruprecht B.Mus (Hons) L.Mus.A – Bassoon
Karen Ruprecht is a Brisbane based professional bassoonist and she has extensive experience in performance and teaching. Karen’s great passion for the bassoon enabled her to establish a firm position as one of the leading educators and advocates for this instrument in Queensland. Her busy schedule includes performances in Australia and overseas (France, Switzerland) as well as being Principal Bassoon with Queensland Pops Orchestra and the Associate Principal bassoon with Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra. Karen appears as a guest bassoonist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Musica Viva, Queensland Festival Philharmonic, Opera Australia, Camerata of St John’s and Australian Session Orchestra. Karen’s artistic profile extends to be a member of numerous chamber ensembles including her recent engagement with Brisbane Chamber Project. She has also provided her knowledge and experience working with the Australian Army Band.
Karen is a sought after educator and clinician for all things double reed, having presented at various educational conferences around the state. She runs the specialist bassoon program for Education QLD and teaches bassoon at various schools in Brisbane. Karen is also heavily involved with the Australasian Double Reed Society, which promotes the playing of oboe and bassoon by providing opportunities, competitions, workshops, conferences and performances throughout Australia. She has also tutored at ‘Most’, QLD Youth Orchestra and adjudicated for the QLD Solo and Ensemble Championships (run by the QLD Band Association).
Biography: Neil Heymink – Bassoon
Neil studied bassoon at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with Peter Musson and graduated with High Distinction in Bassoon and Contrabassoon performance. He then undertook further studies with a number of players in the Netherlands and Germany. As an orchestral musician Neil has performed with the Queensland Symphony and Queensland Pops orchestras, the Northern Rivers Symphony and Sinfonia of St. Andrews as well as orchestras in Toowoomba, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. He is an avid chamber musician and soloist, performing regularly with the Pacific Chamber Players. Neil is also proficient on other reed instruments and teaches at both state and private schools as well as from his home studio in Nambour.
The Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra would like to invite you to join us at our Autumn Concert – ‘Pastoral Interlude’ – with Conductor Warwick Potter and special guest soloists Billy Richardson (oboe), Nathan Christen (clarinet), Preston Ellis (french horn), and Gabrielle Kerin (bassoon) on the 7th April 2019 to be held at the Tweed Civic Centre at 2.30pm.
Warwick Potter, who is no stranger to the NRSO, is the Director and Conductor of The University of Queensland (UQ) Symphony Orchestra and Director of the UQ Wind Ensemble. Professionally, he has conducted the Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Queensland, Tasmanian, West Australian Symphony Orchestras and Camerata of St. John’s across a large range of orchestral portfolios.
In the youth ensemble sector, he has conducted the Queensland Youth Symphony (at the express invitation of John Curro), Young Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, MOST Symphony Orchestra and the Great Public Schools Symphony Orchestra since his move to Brisbane in 2010. He has also been conductor to Queensland Youth Orchestra (QYO) Wind Symphony since 2010.
Warwick likes to use young soloists when at all possible in a community setting. It gives these players the type of priceless experience that they would not usually obtain. Fortunately, the NRSO is also of similar belief. He has chosen the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante for this reason, and for the relative ease for the Orchestra in the context of a crammed rehearsal period.
The four young soloists are Billy Richardson (oboe), Nathan Christen (clarinet), Preston Ellis (french horn), and Gabrielle Kerin (bassoon).
Billy is a former principal oboist with the Australian Youth Orchestra, QYO and UQ Symphony Orchestra, having won several prizes for his solo performances. He graduated from UQ in 2018 with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) and now works as a Judge’s Associate in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Nathan is a second year Bachelor of Music (Honours) student at UQ studying with Kate Travers, and a budding composer. He is a member of UQ Symphony Orchestra and UQ Chorale, and recently joined the Band of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, performing in various government events.
Preston Ellis is also a second year Bachelor of Music (Honours) student at UQ and is being taught by Neil Favell. He has held the position of section principal in the QYO’s Wind Symphony since 2017 and is also an accomplished pianist, having achieved AMusA in piano at the age of 16.
Gabrielle Kerin is a naturally gifted bassoonist who is currently studying in fourth year Bachelor of Music (Honours) at UQ under the tutelage of Dr Warwick Potter. She is currently the principal bassoonist for the UQ Symphony Orchestra as well as the Queensland Youth Symphony (QYS). She toured internationally with QYS in 2017 and this year has been invited to do a solo performance for the upcoming ‘No Strings Attached’ concert at St John’s Cathedral in August.
Mozart’s delightful Magic Flute Overture starts the concert and Beethoven’s (Pastoral) Symphony No 6 ends this afternoons program. The Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra look forward to working with Warwick Potter and these young musicians and hope you (dear reader) could join us to give them a warm welcome.
Pastoral Interlude – Spotlight on NRSO Musician
Richard Williams – timpanist
For this concert we highlight the role of Richard Williams, one of the core musicians in the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra who has been performing in our percussion section for over a decade. The veteran timpanist is also a committee member and stage manager – he is always there to perform the arduous task of setting up the stage before every concert and packing up afterwards. Here, we ask Richard to tell us a little bit about himself:
How did you decide to become a timpani player?
At age 13 my mother took me to an orchestral concert of The St Louis Symphony Orchestra. I was immediately fascinated with the percussion players especially the timpani player. The timpanist was considered the solo position in the orchestra and I soon found out why. The timpanist plays similar notes as the trumpet and string bass players, and is very dominant in a lot of classical pieces of music by all the great composers. I got private lessons from the late great Rholand Koloff who was the solo timpanist for the New York Philharmonic for over 30 years. I still watch him on YouTube playing in Fanfare For The Common Man by Aaron Copeland with the New York Philharmonic conducted by James Levine. It is well worth the watching of as he was considered one of the greatest.
When did you arrive in the Tweed region and how did you find the NRSO?
I arrived in the Tweed Heads area in 2005 and had just finished my 23 years as solo timpanist with the Queensland Pops Orchestra under the late conductor, Colin Harper. I was invited to play solo timpani for the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra under its founder, Barry Singh, in a rehearsal for a Gala concert. Barry was impressed with my playing and offered me the position as solo timpanist for the NRSO and I have been playing ever since.
Tell us about one of your favourite classical pieces that you like to perform and why is it special?
My favorite classical pieces are the symphonies of Gustav Mahler as they use a lot of timpani and percussion. My first ever piece of music I performed as solo timpanist was with the California Youth Symphony, playing Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique at the War Memorial Opera House of San Francisco when I was just 16 years of age. The interesting thing is that Berlioz used the timpani to portray thunder for the storm scene in his symphony. The same storm sounds are required for Beethoven Symphony No. 6, subtitled the Pastoral Symphony, in which I will play the timpani thunder sounds in the 3rd movement. The upcoming concert entitled PASTORAL INTERLUDE by the NRSO will be performed on Sunday 7th April, 2.30pm at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre conducted by Dr Warwick Potter.
John Curro and Hugh Won reunite in “Musical Portraits”
Conducts “An Afternoon at the Proms”
Barrie Gott (b.1947), M.Mus. LTCL A.Mus.A, began his music career as a professional musician, studying trumpet with John Robertson and Harry Larsen at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He subsequently joined the National Training Orchestra and was a regular casual player with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Barrie holds performance diplomas from the AMEB, Trinity College of Music, London in and a Masters degree in conducting from Azusa Pacific University in California where he studied with Dr. Gary Bonner. He has also studied composition and arranging at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Ross Edwards and Don Banks.
Barrie has taught at all levels of education in private and government sectors and was Director of Instrumental Music at Azusa Pacific University. He currently works for Education Queensland as a Senior Instrumental teacher and is a state examiner for the AMEB.
As a conductor Barrie has served as music director for Salvation Army bands in Sydney, Pasadena and Brisbane as well as the Brisbane Excelsior Band where he was successful in bringing a new dimension into concert programming. He is the former owner and musical director of the Queensland Pops Orchestra.
As a composer and arranger Barrie is published in Australia, United States, Great Britain and Europe and his works are on concert programs all over the world. He is a regular contributor to the Standard of Excellence repertoire for beginning concert bands in the education system.
Barrie is also an adjudicator for contests, festivals and eisteddfods throughout the world having officiated at regional, state and national contests in Australia and overseas in Norway and New Zealand.
Barrie was the recipient of the 2004 Frank Wright Medal for services to banding.
Soloist for “Appassionato” – Irit Silver
Irit Silver has been Principal Clarinet of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra since 2007. She is a 2010 Churchill Fellow, having spent six months studying with Alexander Bader of the Berlin Philharmonic. She has appeared with Sydney Symphony and the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra as a guest Principal and as a soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
“Memoirs” – People’s Choice Concert
Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 20th anniversary with the upcoming concert, “Memoirs”, on Sunday 30th March 2014.
The NRSO was founded by its original Conductor and Artistic Director, Mr Barry Singh, who grew up dreaming of conducting his own orchestra one day. That dream became a reality in early 1990s, starting with an 18-piece chamber ensemble, and now, as the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, draws as many as 60 musicians for each concert.
Since Mr Singh’s retirement in late 2012, the orchestra and its committee, run solely by dedicated volunteers, have worked tirelessly to keep that dream alive. Magnificent repertoires are put together with guest conductors, invited professionals and local musicians, all with the common goal of bringing the highest quality classical music to the Northern Rivers for the enjoyment of all our audience.
And it is our audience that we thank today for all the support they have given the orchestra, many of whom have been attending our concerts from the beginning. The audience makes us their local orchestra. As one audience has commented, “The NRSO concerts are a high point which I look forward to and try not to miss”.
To celebrate NRSO’s 20th anniversary, our audience helped us select the repertoire for “Memoirs”. The journey of the NRSO is re-lived in this program, with a collection of all-time favourites including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, and many more. We look forward to sharing this wonderful concert with our audience, who have made it possible for us to keep performing throughout the years.
At this concert we will also present the major raffle prize, “No Strings Attached” painting by Di Skelly Heron. A well known and respected Australian artist, Di held her first solo exhibition in Perth in 1987 and subsequently exhibited around the world. Borne from her love of the orchestra and music, “No Strings Attached” is a colourful and uplifting reflection of the NRSO, a truly marvellous artwork. The lucky winner of the painting will be drawn and announced at the concert.
“Memoirs” – People’s Choice Concert, conducted by Chen Yang and performed by Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, is on Sunday 30th March 2014, 2.30pm NSW time, at Tweed Heads Civic Centre.
To purchase tickets with credit card please click here.
For any enquiries please phone 0466 819 154. Tickets (cash-only) are also available at the Box Office from 17th to 28th March, Monday to Friday between 10am – 3pm, or at the door if not sold out.
Chen Yang conducts “Memoirs”
The Conductor for the NRSO’s ” Memoirs” concert is Chen Yang, a well- known and respected personality in South East Queensland musical circles. Chen has been associated with the Queensland Youth Orchestra for several decades starting as a violinist in 1975 and later appointed concertmaster from 1978 to 1980, He toured with the orchestra in 1980 to Europe, including the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, Scotland. Chen studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and graduated with distinction in violin performance. Chen’s first professional engagement was as Concertmaster of the Queensland Theatre Orchestra (later renamed the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. under the baton of Georg Tintner. In 1981 he joined the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as a member of the first violin section until 1989. He has continued to perform as a freelance musician, performing in show orchestras for many major musical productions. Chen is the leader and conductor of The Sinfonia of St Andrew’s orchestra and is also the string teacher at St Hilda’s School, Southport, and the leader of the Corda Spiritus Orchestra of Brisbane who have performed several concerts for 4MBS Music Festival in recent years. Chen also performs with the Badinerie Players of Brisbane, an ensemble which performs on period instruments. He is also a prolific arranger of string music for the Junior String Ensemble and was the conductor of QYO3 from 1983 to 1988. He is also a judge at Eisteddfods and competitions. The NRSO is delighted to welcome Chen to guide us through the rehearsals and performance of “Memoirs”
For bookings click here
Guest soloist John Coulton plays Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto
John Coulton is an international trumpet player, concert and recording artist, who has toured and performed with some of the world’s finest conductors and orchestras including the Hamburg Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Ballet Company and the London Concert Orchestra. His playing has been recorded for numerous radio and TV programs, and was featured in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games.
John’s career highlights include a performance of the Shostakovich Concerto for Piano and Trumpet with Nikolai Demidenko at the British Proms and a solo recital at the 2010 International Trumpet Guild Conference in Sydney. He has even performed for Her Majesty the Queen on three separate occasions.
John started learning the trumpet when he was 8 years old, following in his sister’s footsteps. “I thought it was very cool,” John remarked. He studied at The Queensland Conservatorium with Yoram Levy, where he learnt to develop his own style and trumpet artistry through years of intense work. He went on to do a Masters degree and studied with various teachers in the UK, France, Germany and the United States.
John is currently enjoying a busy freelance career with the Queensland Symphony orchestra and the Camerata of St. Johns, among others, as well as teaching the trumpet students at All Saints Anglican School at the Gold Coast.
The NRSO was one of John’s performance avenues when he was studying at the Conservatorium. After living and working overseas for nearly 12 years, John returned to Queensland in 2012 and reunited with the orchestra. “It is a great opportunity to play with the NRSO once again and support this great organization,” John said.
For Monumental Masterpiece concert, John will be playing the Hummel Trumpet Concerto, which he says is one of the quintessential pieces of music in the Trumpet repertoire. “It was written for the brand new ‘Keyed Trumpet’ invented in 1796, without which the modern Valved Trumpets that we use today may never have evolved to their present form,” John explained. “The piece demonstrates the newly acquired chromaticism of the keyed trumpet and regularly blends beautiful lyrical lines with fanfare type motives which were commonplace in the trumpets of old.”
So what are some of the major features to listen out for? “The second movement is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written for the Trumpet,” John reflected, “and the Third movement contains many technical challenges, and potential pitfalls, for the trumpet player!”
Up Close and Personal with Spiros Rantos – violinist/conductor
Spiros Rantos, violinist and conductor, was born in Corfu, Greece, grew up in Athens and pursued his musical studies in Vienna, Austria, where he met his wife and musical partner, Israeli born pianist Brachi Tilles.Spiros has won the International Violin competitions of Colmar, France and Forte dei Marmi, Italy and commissioned and promoted over 400 performances around the world as a soloist, chamber music player and conductor. He has recorded over 55 records for many labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, Adelcord and Grevillea Records. He has been a frequent guest performer for National broadcast companies in Europe, Asia and Australia. Spiros came to Australia in 1976 as a member of the Vienna based group Ensemble 1. He is the founder, artistic director and conductor of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and has taught at the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Southern Queensland & University of Melbourne.
The Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra has the pleasure of performing under the expert baton of Spiros Rantos for their upcoming concert, “Monumental Masterpiece” at the Tweed Civic Centre, Sunday 17th November 2013. Spiros Rantos, who is of Greek origin, has a reputation internationally for his brilliant violin playing and conducting. One can’t help but be under his spell with the pure emotion he evokes from his orchestra. The charismatic Spiros is also well known for his storytelling and a great sense of humour.
We spoke to Spiros and asked him a few questions about his amazing career.
- Why did you choose to play the violin?“The decision was with my parents and uncle who was a famous cellist in Greece. When I started at age five I really didn’t have much say, but by the time I was fifteen I started performing in my teachers’ orchestra in Athens, and having many “professional” engagements. At eighteen I held the position of first violinist at the Opera in Linz, Austra, and the next year I moved to Vienna.”
- What style of music inspires you the most?“I try to keep an open mind as every genre of music and every part of music history has its own justification and place in our minds and souls. I am, though, mostly fond of the classics – Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. I have a great admiration for Dvorak and really love Prokofieff, Debussy and Ravel.”
- Who is your favourite conductor?“There have been so many amazing conductors through history that is very difficult for me to pinpoint one. Each one has brought their understanding and feeling of the music they present and one can’t help but be under their spell during performances. Apart from the great ones like Solti, Boehm and Toscanini, there are two close to my heart: Sergio Celibidache and Mariss Janson.”
- Tell us what the coming year holds for you.“In the next few months I will be performing with Brachi Tilles on Piano, the Mozart Concerti for the Moreton Bay Orchestra, recitals in Noosa and Bribie Island, masterclasses and recitals in Victoria and conducting a concert with the Toowoomba Concert Orchestra. We also hope to finish our recordings this year and release to CDs by the end of 2013.”
Banquet lady of the NRSO
As the saying goes, behind every successful man, there is a woman. For the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, behind every successful concert, there is Jennifer Ferris.
While the NRSO prepares their upcoming concert, a “Banquet of Brahms and Beethoven”, meet the person behind the scenes who prepares a banquet for the orchestra.
Jennifer has been a tireless supporter of the NRSO for over a decade. An avid lover of classical music, she is there at every concert. However, one will rarely see her in the auditorium enjoying the music, for she is always busy in the kitchen preparing afternoon tea for the audience during the interval. “I used to help Lyn (McBurney) serve afternoon tea,” Jennifer explained, “but when Lyn became the orchestra manager, I took over the catering with some of the other ladies. I just happened to last the longest!”
Perhaps even more importantly, she also organises food for our musicians, providing lunch and morning tea during rehearsals to keep the orchestra happy. It is fortunate then, that she is not required on stage as well. “I’m useless at playing music!” she said. But not in the kitchen!
Jennifer is also a member of the NRSO committee, helping to distribute newsletters and selling concert tickets at the box office.