What an exhilarating way to spend Jacaranda Sunday! Whoever thought orchestral concerts were boring needs to experience the Clarence Valley Orchestra and Chorus strutting their stuff.
Conductor Greg Butcher has brought together this group of multi-talented musicians to form a wonderfully cohesive group who obviously enjoy making music together.
The Saraton was packed to capacity, abuzz with anticipation. We were not disappointed.
From the rousing opening polka, we just knew that somehow the bar had been raised yet again. Elgar’s Salut d’amour was performed with superb sensitivity, followed by the choir’s spirited rendition of Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.
International pianist, David Helfgott, dazzled the audience with his remarkable technique and unique interpretation of the Litolff Scherzo, ably accompanied by the orchestra. We were later treated to several solo pieces, my favourite being Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody. A consummate entertainer, Mr Helfgott had the audience in the palm of his hand … or should I say… hands?
Total change of pace saw Greg Butcher’s quirky little composition, Pizzicato Pluckers. He and Lisa, his daughter, then performed the delightful duet, Something Stupid, with echoes of Frank and Nancy Sinatra.
There were two stirring rhythmical dances – Libertango and Sabre Dance both of which had us happily tapping out feet. But it was the Cantique de Jean Racine that almost moved me to tears. The choir was magnificent, male singers in particular. It was performed with such sensitivity. The Masquerade Waltz had us swaying in our seats, with the strings in the sonorous lower register conveying the rich melodies to perfection. I was delighted to learn that this piece was the wedding waltz for Greg and Kathy Butcher (flautist in the orchestra).
We were even treated to a marvellous arrangement of I Still Call Australia Home cleverly intertwined with Waltzing Matilda. So moving!
Being a Proms concert, we all had a marvellous time obeying the Conductor by clapping softly or loudly in the Radetsky March. Finally, it was time for Pomp & Circumstance. We literally raised the roof singing Land of Hope and Glory. What a thrill!
Naturally, we demanded an encore. We were delighted when one of the violinists came onstage in a rather ill-fitting sailor suit to perform the Sailor’s Hornpipe. Such fun!
Thank you, Clarence Valley Orchestra & Chorus for yet another memorable concert. I’m still smiling.