Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Dane Lam conducts Saint-Saëns – 26 Feb 2021

Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ

So after only two concerts in the last year. I’m back in my happy place. Watching the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This year is again in the town hall as the concert hall at the operahouse undergoes renovations. The town hall is growing on me. I still prefer Angel Place (City Recital Hall) or the operahouse. This concert was part of the 2021 Tea and the Symphony series. Yes, there was tea and bikkies.

The Program

Gravity and Levity on the Sunbreathing Earth – Lyle Chan

This piece was commissioned by the SSO as part of the 50 fanfares project. It was composed between October and December 2020. I think this was its premiere. I quite enjoyed it, she says surprised. The melody was quite enjoyable. The bass was epic. So lovely to hear 5 double basses again. There is something about live basses that can’t be captured in recordings. There was a bit of a bummer bit where the violins did some screeching which seemed a bit out of the blue. It had some beautiful soundscape action as well. I have never heard of Lyle Chan before. He seems like a really interesting person.  He does get bonus points for writing a piece of music called Wind Farm Music as a protest piece against the Abbot government.

Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 (‘Organ’ Symphony) – Camille Saint-Saëns

Written in 1886, it’s a little weird that it is called the Organ Symphony since the organ doesn’t play until the second movement. Camille Saint-Saëns dedicated the piece to Franz Lizst when Liszt died in the months after the premiere.

It’s not in the standard symphonic form. It has 2 movements each transiting through various time signatures. As you could probably guess I love love love the Double Bass part. The bowed walking lines, the big heavy chords, the pizz. Maybe I’ve just been craving Double Bass. The performance was brilliant. Hearing the organ in all its glory was epic. It even drowned out the jackhammer which started up in one of the quietness sections which made me giggle. One of the violins and violas went backstage to stop it. Well done City of Sydney, hire out the hall and not get the workmen to stop for an hour.

There was also a bit of excitement as a man in the row in front of me had a seizure. Fun fun. I went running for help. Then choose to sit in the back row while first aid treated him. He seemed to be ok when we left so that’s good.

The stars

Of course, the greatest star of all was…….. the Double Bass section, no I meant the Orchestra. Hehehehe. It was so lovely to see and hear them again. Live music is amazing. I can put up with the jackhammers, coughing and seizures to feel the bass in my body. Hearing the balance and harmony of well-composed music that has something to say and shares it in a language you can understand with your soul. I have missed this experience. I’m so grateful that we are back.

Oh, the other stars

Conductor – Dane Lam

It’s the first time I have seen Dane Lam conduct. He is jockey sized. He reminded me of Jessica Cottis, without the beautiful jacket. Intense pocket rockets who bring amazing sounds from the Orchestra. He wasn’t distracting. I haven’t heard either of the pieces before so I’m not too sure about the effect he had on the orchestra. They seemed happy enough.

Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ & David Drury

As the organ player for the Orchestra, I have seen David Drury perform many times over the years. Usually, it is on the Operahouse organ but for a change today it was the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ. Ok so I can’t tell the difference except his seat is actually close to the Orchestra. Anyway, the organ was epic. Big organ super chords with the brass and beautiful twinkling bits with woodwinds and strings.

Wrap up and more information

It was brilliant to be back attending live music. I’m off again on Thursday to see Andrew Haveron Performs Bach at Angel Place (City Recital Hall).