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Sydney Concert Orchestra Presents: Dvorak Symphony No. 9 "From The New World"

Encompassing a wide range of repertoire spanning from quintessential Romantic works to a new composition by a young and emerging composer, Sydney Concert Orchestra presents you our latest program.


Felix Mendelssohn - A Midsummer's Night Dream Overture

Ben (Wenhao) Fan - A Quiet Mountain


Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No.9 (From The New World)


Felix Mendelssohn - A Midsummer's Night Dream Overture:

The Midsummer Night's Dream Overture is a startling work, and not because Mendelssohn was only 17 whenhe wrote it. He undoubtedly forms his own genre, and a musical language and expression, unlike any that hadcome before. It was the first "concert overture," a work intended not to introduce a dramatic presentation, but to represent, complete in itself, a literary work, or story, or place. Music as literature became such a quintessentially Romantic concept, and the concert overture (such as Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet), and its offshoot, the tone poem, became so common in the 19th century that it is easy to forget that this one overture started it all. The overture is full of memorable touches. After opening chords define the key of E major, violins in fourparts abruptly change to E minor, letting us know that we're entering a different world, and then depict the fairy world in quick notes. Little woodwind fanfare figures that seem inconsequential in the exposition become very mysterious, like spirits popping up from behind mushrooms and then disappearing, in the development. The strings offer their own hee-haws. Loud horn calls evoke both the threatening darkness ofthe forest and Theseus' hunting party.

Ben (Wenhao) Fan - A Quiet Mountain:

Dedicated to his late teacher/mentor/friend, Jon Mountain, A Quiet Mountain is an orchestral work encapsulating his memories in Ben Fan’s life. Jon was a person who always saw the best in everyone, encouraging us all to find our own individual path, rather than follow what’s already there. Like a mountain, he was grand and bold, never to back down from a challenge. Always with wisdom to share, he was there, humble and quiet. To express these emotions and feelings, Fan explores the orchestral colours in this work to convey the sorrowful and grateful feelings of knowing Mountain inspired others. He was a lover of music, never able to hold back when seeing a piano. Fan could remember hearing the sound of piano gracefully playing in the halls after a busy afternoon, only to realise it was him playing. It is now Ben Fan’s turn to play, so to Jon, this is our homage to you. May you forever rest in peace.

Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No.9 (From The New World):

The nickname New World Symphony, as it is commonly referred to, comes from Dvořák explaining that the symphony offers “impressions and greetings from the New World.” It is common knowledge that Dvořák’s main inspirations for his Ninth Symphony were Afro-American songs. The composer had discovered these during his first few months in New York. As a composer who often drew inspiration from his homeland, folk music and traditional European musics, Dvořák essentially combined this new music he had found, with some of his European music expertise. Divided into four movements, Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony largely adheres to the European classical structures. Set in broad sonata form, the opening movement of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony begins with as low introduction. It has been suggested that the slow, even nostalgic, opening reflects Dvořák looking back to his homeland, however this soon dissolves with the bold themes ‘from the new world.’ The incredibly famous second movement begins with a succession of chords from the woodwind section. The strings are muted, whilst the cor anglais sings out the broad solo melody which seemingly mimics the human voice. Written in ABA form, Dvořák described the third movement as ‘the feast where the Indians dance.’ The fast pace and march-like style creates a light and bouncy style that is emphasised by the strict 3/4 time. The Finale of the Ninth Symphony is bold, powerful and full of musical treasures. This movement is a culmination of movements past, as well as quite a lot of new material also being presented.


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