It’s been a while since I attended a CSO concert. My interest in classical music was a gift from my mother that manifested in 13 years of music lessons, ensemble practices and end of year concerts throughout school. Unfortunately, it’s been too long since I last played but tonight’s concert was both a wonderful experience and a gentle reminder to revisit my viola.


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The program started with Ravel La Valse, the perfect appetizer to whet the appetite of the audience for the auditory feast ahead.  Described by conductor Nicholas Milton, the frenzied fragmented melodies are the “Waltz dancing itself to death”.

Up next was Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 1 op. 1, delivered by Andrea Lam, making her Canberra debut. Dressed in emerald green, Andrea truly was the jewel of this performance. A blessing to listen to, the New York based, Australian native who’s CV includes performances at the infamous Carneige Hall.

Yet, it was The Stars Above Us All, a piece composed by Matthew Hindson, that I was most looking forward to. Written to honor the parents of the children undergoing treatments for long-term, complex issues, The Stars Above Us All was an especially emotional and touching tribute. My favourite part of the piece was the use of a celesta (a musical instrument that I had not even heard of before!), which sounded much like a child’s xylophone – so appropriate for the subject of the piece.

The final piece, Mussorgsky (orchestra by Ravel) Pictures at an Exhibition was masterfully delivered, with each ‘picture’ distinctly different from the last, punctuated by a brief pause before moving onto the next – much like you would move around a gallery.

The CSO 2020 program New Spaces promises a daring and exuberant musical experience, featuring both classic masterworks from established and emerging Australian composers. Milton assured us all that the 2020 program would “change hearts, open minds and warm souls”.