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.