Review: Icons – Sibelius

When faced with an empty Saturday night, would you rather:
a) head to Civic and get #looseatmoose with public servants
b) watch the Canberra Youth Orchestra perform at Llewellyn Hall?
Now, we could address the absurd notion of a Uni student who goes out on a Saturday night, or, we could find all the drama, energy and passion of a dance floor in one sitting, lead by an incredible young orchestra.

The CYO is conducted by ANU alumnus Leonard Weiss, and their third concert in the Icons series was lead by ANU School of Music concert master, Helena Popovic. This vibrant ensemble recently brought to life their third instalment featuring later 19th century repertoire, including works by Jean Sibelius, Antonin Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.

Canberra Youth Orchestra Icons concert - Sibelius.

Pictured: Concert Master Helena Popovic and Condutor Leonard Weiss

The solo performance of Popovic in the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major was played with passion, finesse and great skill. Popovic was also solidly supported by the orchestra throughout, with the woodwinds in particular adding subtly and contrast to the solo violin.
A selection of Slavonic Dances by Dvorak, combined with Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances provided innate stylistic excitement and a palpable vibrancy, before the evening concluded with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

It was here that the versatility, energy and musicality of the CYO really shone through. Whether it be in the atmospheric moments of soft reflection in the second movement, or the stirring brass chords at the end of the symphony, the CYO’s ability to tackle challenging repertoire from the start to the finish of the program was impressive.

When queried as to the importance of the CYO, conductor Leonard Weiss reflected that the young collegiate spirit of the orchestra produced not only enthusiasm and passion on stage, but a sense of community amongst all the musicians. Throughout the performance it was obvious that this same enthusiasm and infectious joy for music brought the orchestra alive.

The CYO released their 2017 program on Saturday night, promising a huge array of notable soloists including trumpeter James Morrison, percussionist Claire Edwards, and award winning acapella group The Idea of North.

When university begins to feel like a drag, and downstairs Moose seems less appealing, remember the highly skilled and exciting youth orchestra right on our doorstep.

There is a final concert in the Icons series to be held on December 4 at Llewellyn Hall, featuring the work of Brahms.