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classikON Review | "The youthful Sydney Concert Orchestra does not disappoint!"


The Verbruggen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music was packed and abuzz, as the audience waited for the third concert by the youthful Sydney Concert Orchestra. They were not to be disappointed! Their chief conductor, Omid Moheb Zadeh, strode onto the stage and immediately started to conduct Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla Overture at breakneck speed. It was fascinating to watch all those fingers dancing along their fingerboards in perfect synchronisation. This work is full of passion, power and joy, reflecting the opera’s content. Omid took the orchestra through their passionate paces, particularly for the last theme, which was full of orchestral bravado. The musicians responded with youthful energy, and joy, playing enthusiastically with ”all stops out”.

In contrast was Ben Fan’s recent composition From the Stars, where we were treated to the world premiere conducted by the composer himself. This romantic work in three movements was full of introspection and peacefulness, exemplified by Ben’s own controlled and peaceful conducting style. The scintillating of the stars was conveyed through twinkling percussion including Glockenspiel and harp. An introspective oboe solo reflected the mood of the second movement. The harp gently lulled the almost silent strings. The whole piece was perhaps reminiscent of an animated movie by Miyazaki in its magical expression of love in all its guises.

After the interval, Omid returned to conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, inspired by magical tales from the Arabian classic 1001 Nights. This was a perfect piece to display the skill of the orchestra with music ranging from intimate solos to full orchestra There was a wonderful rapport between the conductor and musicians, who produced a bold, lush sound in the opening movement evoking Sinbad and the sea. Coloured lighting subtly bathed the orchestra in blue and green lights to enhance the effects the music was playing, but it was barely noticeable.

Scheherazade herself was later introduced, represented by a solo violin, lovingly played by the Concertmaster David Carreon, with a harp accompaniment by Kaella Phillips. The ambience of the Middle East was further enhanced by some beautiful woodwind solos, evoking the blossoming love between the young prince and princess. After another richly orchestrated interlude, representing the Festival at Baghdad, David Carreon resumed the enchanting violin “solo”, representing the storyteller, Scheherazade. The piece ended quietly. After a mindful pause, the audience responded with tremendous applause, cheers and foot stomping – a testament to the truly excellent performance by this young orchestra.

Sketches by Heidi Hereth


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