Majestic Ecstasy Sunday April 9, 2017

Symphony Central Coast presents its 2017 season with top-notch soloists, a mix of classical and popular, and with virtuosic performance very much to the fore.

And while the likes of Nate Butler and his graduating students will bring plenty of sparkle to the season, that doyen of pianists Simon Tedeschi looks set to grab his share of attention with Gershwin’s other most famous work, the Piano Concerto in F. Add Wagner singers Leah Thomas, Andrew Brunsdon and Shane Lowrencev who will delve deep into the mythological story that is the Ring Cycle and you have a spectacular concert season with something for everyone.

There is plenty to look forward to but Artistic Director and Conductor Dr Steven Stanke shares a brief memory of the 2016 orchestral program before going on to talk about where they are going. “The highlight for me in 2016 was preparing and performing Dimitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. There is so much personal statement in this work by the composer who struggled against a very oppressive governmental regime and yet was able to get a message of hope, determination and integrity to the world. In 2017 we’re continuing our exploration of the human spirit and creativity against the odds.”

Symphony Central Coast opens their 2017 season with three big classical powerhouse composers: Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner. Beethoven’s overture to the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus teems with exuberant joy and Mozart’s 40th Symphony, one of his most well-known and beloved works, is elegantly refined but tinged with a hint of deep disquiet. To perform some of Wagner’s epic four opera Ring Cycle is one of the dream occasions for conductors. “There is so much power and drama in the Ring and to touch on one of the opera’s grandest projects is an opportunity too good to miss”, Stanke said. Act One of Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), the second of the four operas in the Ring Cycle, tells the story of how the parents of our hero Siegmund met. In true operatic style, they were twins separated at birth and instantly fall in love, giving our singers and orchestra the opportunity to perform some of the most glorious falling-in-love music ever written.

More popular strands are included to allow audiences to find their own entry point into the orchestral experience. There’s a big Hollywood Rhapsody concert – “A golden years sort of thing,” says Stanke, “Music from movies in the forties and fifties was lush, powerful and dramatic. Once heard never forgotten.”
And then there is the Americana Broadway Spectacular afternoon. “We want to create a palette of different styles, to bring music to life for everyone. Jazz and its language permeates through much of American music, from the smoky jazz clubs to the Broadway stage. ”

An eclectic mix then but of all the works, what is Steven Stanke most looking forward to getting his teeth into? “That’s not an easy question to answer as I’ve had great fun curating all four major concerts,” he admits. “The chance to do some Wagner with some of Australia’s greatest singers is going to be just fantastic. And I’m very much looking forward to working with Simon Tedeschi. But you can’t beat the excitement of films and Broadway as well!”

Dr Steven Stanke