Set in QPAC’s opulent Concert Hall (19 May), the Queensland Symphony Orchestra put on a show to behold as part of their Sunday music series.
As hinted by the name, Royalty was the theme of the morning, with all the pieces performed linked to Kings and Queens of some description. The programme was also a crowd-pleaser, as most audiences will be familiar with the selection, which included Wagner, Beethoven and Strauss.
There were also some more eclectic choices, such as Wilfred Lehmann’s Concerto for Trombone. Lehmann is an Australian composer now in his 90s, and he wrote the piece specifically for Jason Redman, who performed the solo on Sunday. It was a real treat for the audience not only to have Redman on stage, but also to have such a technical Australian piece on display between the European classics. The other surprising piece was Ravel’s Suite from 'Mother Goose', which was influenced by Indonesian percussion and so also provided some diversity for the ear.
The session’s host, Guy Noble, did a wonderful job at drawing the audience’s attention to different parts of the orchestra, highlighting the role of the percussion section, or pointing out unusual and rarely featured instruments. This, as well as the banter with different musicians and the conductor, made the event more accessible and interesting for the audience. Tidbits of trivia also helped the audience to understand the background and context of the music.
The only distraction was perhaps the type of banter occasionally employed. Dressed as the Queen, Noble joked about Meghan Markle wanting to name her baby Tupac, and also referred to the 1889 Paris Expo as having a “native” village of “negros” for visitors to gawk at, which was very disappointing. While it was a commentary on how “strange” that was, it really wasn’t necessary and surely there isn’t any reason to use those terms these days.
Otherwise, this performance truly was, as advertised, ‘music fit for royalty’.