Last Saturday’s concert Requiem: Love & Loss, held at the Perth Concert Hall, did not leave a dry eye in sight by the end of its first half.
- Samuel Parry’s utterly exposing and beautiful World Premiere of My River
- Truly exceptional performances by Perry Joyce, Katja Webb, Phoebe Tait & William Atkins-Walters in Australia’s premiere of Rebecca Dale’s Materna Requiem
- The uplifting final chorus of Requiem, sung in the rear upper gallery – a heavenly epilogue
- The WA Wind Symphony’s ability to redefine the general public’s idea of a concert band
The West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus and the Western Australian Wind Symphony didn’t hold back the emotional punches – catching some audience members off-guard – in the best, if not surprising way possible.
In a program dedicated to celebrating incredible, personal stories of love, loss, grief and hope, there’s no wonder audience members found so much to connect with, including their sense of community in a shared experience.
The WA Wind Symphony took command of the first half with James Barnes’ epic Symphony No. 3 (aka “The Tragic”) – a work commissioned by the US Air Force showcasing the true ability of a high calibre wind ensemble. Drawing upon the tragedy and despair of loosing his infant daughter, Natalie Barnes, the work also explores the subsequent joy and hope Barnes discovered in the birth of his son Billy just three days after completing the composition. The performance featured several stunning soli from every section, highlighting the ensemble’s eager musical talent and the composer’s deep understanding of each instrumental section.
Second on the program was the world premiere of conductor and music director Samuel Parry’s own composition My River, performed by the wind symphony and the West Coast Philharmonic Chorus. The deeply personal work, dedicated to Parry’s late son, River Parry, left no one untouched, including the performers.
For many in the audience, this was their first serious encounter with a wind symphony, aside from the usual dalliances with a high school concert band. To say the WA Wind Symphony changed all their minds on the medium and what it can do – would be a total understatement.
As the lights came on for interval, the Hall was met with a solemn, peaceful and teary silence of an audience processing the musical and emotional experience that just befell them.
Following the all-important raffle draw (and some very happy winners), the West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus gave the Australian premiere of Rebecca Dale‘s Materna Requiem for orchestra, chorus and soloists. Cathartically enlightening, colourful and at times dramatically energetic, the work showcased Dale’s incredible sensitivity, offering wonderfully considered nuance to each musical colour and texture available to her.
Tenor Perry Joyce immediately brought an earnest, effortless and emotional quality to the work, coupled with Katja Webb‘s stunning dramatic soprano – showcasing this requiem to be a solemn, contemplative and beautifully transcendant composition. Newcomers Phoebe Tait (young soprano) and William Atkins-Walters (treble) delighted the audience with their sonorous and innocent clarity, enthralling the audience into a near-trance when embedded against the lush sound-world of the philharmonic and it’s chorus of over sixty. Organist Alessandro Pittorino‘s sensitive performance completed the transformation of the space into one honouring lost loved ones, offering the audience an uplifting remedy to their own personal journeys and hardships.
After a couple of hours of deep musical soul searching and shedding the weight of personal grief, the audience was brought a glorious silver lining – Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning”, arranged for chorus, strings and led by WACO chorus alum Jocelyn Campbell.
A wonderfully joyful gift of hope was offered to patrons as a reward for their trust in Parry on such a deliberately emotional journey – and their trust was well placed.
By the amount of applause and positive feedback following the concert, this was a performance which unexpectedly touched them at their core – a rare feat for any ensemble. Inundated with comments of praise, personal reflections and stories of growth and change following the concert, Parry’s efforts have done what WACO seeks to do – change lives through music.
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