REVIEW: Opus Orchestra | Ahead of the Game (Rotorua)

Review for Daily Post by Hanno Fairburn of Opus Orchestra concert, Rotorua, 30 September 2018

What: Opus Orchestra

Where: Destiny Church

When: Sunday 30 September 2018

Opus’s conductor Peter Walls deserves high praise for devising a programme of distinction and leading an orchestra which had consistent freshness and vitality.

Bach’s Ouverture No.1 made a bright start to the concert, noted by elegant strings and colourful woodwind.    A new marimba concerto from the New Zealand composer Gareth Farr has been a monumental event, and it had a soloist who fully did it justice.   The sight and sound of Yoshiko Tsuruta was impressive, indeed, when she was in full flight, wielding mallets on wooden bars ranged along the 3 meter long instrument.  One can only marvel at her coordination, agility and skill in getting a wide range of tones and dynamics.  This performance highlighted the value of coordination: here it was between the enterprising conductor, a composer familiar with the instrument, a gifted soloist and generous funding by members of the Friends of Opus Orchestra.  The orchestral scoring was rich and imaginative, but it was a pity that so much the audiences’ attention was turned to the soloist.

Copland’s ‘Quiet City’ depicts the remorse of a man over his life’s choices and this was captured well as a misty atmosphere by the orchestra, and playing of a high order by  solo trumpet and cor anglais.

Haydn’s ‘Farewell’ had excitement and drive until the finale when the real farewell began by ‘Petering out’ with a light-hearted mass exodus by the players; even the conductor, too.   One by one, they left the stage until only two lonely but graceful violins were left behind.

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