Saturday, March 3, 2012

End of Summer Serenade

The start of Autumn has heralded some cloudy skies and rather cool evenings, a far cry from a week ago when the State sweltered in the 30s. As it turned out it was a perfect Saturday, with myself and a few friends joining around 8500 others who took advantage of the balmy evening to flock to Launceston’s City Park equipped with all the picnic paraphernalia necessary to sit or lie back and be treated to the TSO’s annual Symphony Under the Stars.

Bad back or no bad back there was no way I was going to miss this, one of my few cultural events of the year, so spent most of the evening flat on my back being soothed by the music, staring at the sky as it gradually darkened and the stars were teased out by the strains of the great composers of past centuries as well as those of the present day.

New Zealand conductor and composer Kenneth Young brought out the best in Tasmania’s wonderful orchestra before new Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Marko Letonja takes over the reins this month. Violin soloist Ji Won Kim was captivating, with Vaughn Williams’ Lark Ascending absolutely exquisite, though one of the most popular moments of the evening came with the appearance of rookie guest conductor Vince Taskunas.

General Manager of RACT’s public policy and communications, Vince placed the winning bid at the TSO’s 2011 Gala Ball to conduct the orchestra at this year’s event, and despite having absolutely no qualifications to lead an orchestra, wowed the audience as he seized the moment and waved that baton like a pro as he played to the crowd through Rossini’s fast paced William Tell overture.

Confirmed that classical music is not simply for the highbrow, with everyone singing Happy Birthday to one of the orchestra members, and thousands yelling for more encores as the evening concluded, with no intention of leaving until the traditional can-can finale struck up so they could get to their feet and go crazy for a while.

Perfect end to summer.