A series of fortunate musical events
Lemon Snicket’s The Composer is Dead, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Charles Luney Auditorium, July 19
When the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra met Lemony Snicket on Wednesday night, the encounter was guaranteed to be truly memorable.
This was an orchestral concert with attitude. It had growly bits, thumpy bits and farty bits, loud bits and soft noises. And, judging from the rapt response of the audience, everything else inbetween.
It was also an invitation for children to escort parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and carefully selected minders to a performance of music guaranteed to grab the attention of even the most cynical of 10–yearolds.
Under the baton of an engaging David Kay, the CSO bounced its way through Ravel’s Bolero, John Williams’ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Suite and a resounding version of Ginastera’s Malambo, which saw some of the audience dancing in the aisles and conducting from their seats – a complete departure from Christchurch’s usual decorous behaviour.
There was even the world premiere of Schismata by the CSO’s very own Hamish Oliver. I could discuss the work’s use of ostinato passages and its deftly placed references to heavy metal and minimalism, but I won’t. It was time to simply revel in and relish the wondrous sounds and moods produced by the orchestra.
The evening’s main event was a performance of The Composer is Dead with words by the acclaimed American children’s author, Lemony Snicket, and music by fellow countryman Nathaniel Stookey. Originally commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and premiered in 2006, it’s a work which follows Peter and the Wolf and A Young Person’s Guide to The Orchestra ,but one with its own distinctive personality. Dramatic music, a theatrical plot accompanied by Snicket’s characteristic dark humour combined to reveal the various sections of an orchestra to children. Michael Bailey was the bravura narrator, while the musicians appeared to enjoy themselves hugely.
After all, everyone deserves an opportunity to show off occasionally.
Most importantly, the young audience left the Charles Luney Auditorium satisfied and happy after a humdinger of a concert. It was a complete joy, especially the growly, thumpy and farty bits. – Christopher Moore