Following another successful week of outstanding music making, Melbourne Digital Concert Hall continues to support local musicians with Faces of Our Orchestras Festival. It is being launched on the suitably auspicious date of May 1; not only is May Day the workers’ proclamation of just working conditions, it also evokes “mayday” the international call for help (based on the French m’aidez). MDCH has raised over $105,000 in its first month – proof of how much our musicians are valued and how keen people are to help them.
We have had access to many superb live streams and reruns of excellent performances from all over the world, including a terrific series, Bach’s Sei Solo, by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, presented by Guest Assistant Concertmaster Jessica Oddie, which began on Wednesday night. But subscribed fund-raising initiatives seem to be relatively rare; most pleas for financial support come in the form of requests for donations. Among the exceptions has been the Lockdown Concert to support the Tait Emergency Relief Fund for Australian and New Zealand Musicians in the UK, who have lost their income from performances. Australian mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean’s program of some of her favourite songs from around the world celebrated international musical collaboration and attracted substantial support.
MDCH continues to lead the way when it comes to practical assistance, however. Over eight consecutive evenings, 14 one-hour recitals live from the Athenaeum Theatre provide a chance to experience leading artists up close in a chamber setting. Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmasters Dale Bartrop and Sophie Rowell, and Orchestra Victoria’s Concertmaster Yi Wang bookend a program of recitals ranging from solo Bach works, string trios and Beethoven cello sonatas to brass ensembles, English harp music and a concert by the ever-adventurous ensemble PLEXUS. It is a showcase for those artists who perform on stage and in the pit – concertmasters and tutti players – performing in instrument combinations less regularly heard in our concert halls.
Having discovered the pleasures of foot-tapping and arm-waving without disturbing others during an exciting performance of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata by violinist Markiyan Melnychenko and pianist Rhodri Clarke (that final movement must have had many buzzing with energy), I am treasuring this new dimension of concert participation. Overcoming a certain awkwardness seen in some other presentations, Melnychenko’s friendly, relaxed introduction also put his virtual audience in a receptive frame of mind right from the outset. Beethoven’s masterpiece has also been chosen for the Festival finale featuring the MSO’s Concertmaster Sophie Rowell and pianist Kristian Chong. What a splendid way to celebrate music and musicians.
Concert 3 “Maximum Velocity”, featuring Michael Szabo (Principal Bass Trombone MSO), Tim Buzbee (Principal Tuba MSO) and Stefan Cassomenos (Piano) also promises to whip up plenty of excitement with an intriguing program of music by Bartok, Batterhamn, Meador and Bloch. Imaginative programming ensures there will be something for everyone in this festival.
Some music lovers will have taken advantage of MDCH’s partnership with Rita Erlich, who put together an appetising French and Polish inspired menu to accompany Gintaute Gataveckaite recital of 24 of Chopin’s op 28 preludes and Part 4 of Ian Munro’s Beethoven Piano Sonata Journey this week and will be looking forward to further delicious intermingling of all the senses.
Full Festival passes, for all 14 concerts are available at just $200 (plus a reduced booking fee of $20) – an incredible bargain at only $14.28 per concert. Each concert is available for sale individually at $24.
The website www.melbournedigitalconcerthall.com has all the details of artists and programs.
Tickets are available through the MCDH website: www.melbournedigitalconcerthall.com/tickets
Image: Melbourne Digital Concert Hall. Concert masters: William Hennessy (Melbourne Chamber Orchestra), Sophie Rowell (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Dale Barltrop (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Yi Wang (Orchestra Victoria). Image supplied.