Richard Tognetti, lead violinist and Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) received an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) award in this year’s Australia Day Honours list, for his services to music over the last 20 years.
Richard Tognetti has created a vibrant and ambitious ensemble that celebrates tradition and thrives on adventure. Now at the height of his powers, the violinist and avid surfer regards his Australia Day honour as not only a recognition of the ACO’s standing but its continuing influence in musical circles and cumulative cultural legacy.
Talking of the ACO, we’re looking forward to going along to one of the shows in the Tognetti’s Mozart tour in February, which also marks Tognetti’s 21st anniversary with the orchestra.
Last Sunday the Australian Concert Orchestra (ACO) kindly invited me to a performances from their Great Romantics programme – which is currently touring Australia – at the Sydney Opera House.
The show featured three string sextet pieces, the world premiere of “Black is the Night”, a tribute written by composer Ian Munro to celebrate Richard Tognetti, the ACO’s artistic director, 20th anniversary with the orchestra, “Transfigured Night” by Arnold Schoenberg, and “String Sextet No.2 in G” by Johannes Brahms.
The ACO sextet was made up of six musicians, two each playing violin, viola, and cello. Having not previously seen a sextet play I was amazed by the great ranges of tones and sounds that were produced. At times it seemed as if there was a horn and percussion section also playing in accompaniment.
And if you think classical music is “old fashion”, slow, or boring, you need to see the ACO in action. According to the program for instance, “Transfigured Night” was 32 minutes in duration, yet it felt more like ten so engrossing was the performance.
While I’ve listened to a few recorded classical, or chamber music pieces in the past, this was probably only the second or third time I’ve gone along to a live recital. It was also intriguing to observe some of the conventions associated with such a performance.
For instance you need to be certain a movement has concluded before clapping. A pause, or silence, in play doesn’t necessarily indicate this. I followed the crowd in this regard, though the best cue that a piece has concluded is when the musicians completely lower their instruments.
And even after the musicians had left the stage at the end of the recital the audience continued applauding, prompting the sextet to return to the stage to take an additional two bows. An encore, I imagine, in another musical context.
I’m looking forward to going along to see the Australian Concert Orchestra (ACO) this weekend at Sydney Opera House… I like to mix my musical genres around a little bit… we’ll no doubt be relaxing (as it were) to some dance and electronica on Saturday, and then changing the tone a little on Sunday.
Anyway the ACOs Great Romantics programme, as directed by violinist Richard Tognetti, features recitals of Arnold Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” and also Johannes Brahms’ String Sextet in G.
Photographing performances is a no-no (I’ll have to restrain my clickoholic urges for the duration) but look out for some shots of the Opera House over on my Flickr page from early next week.