The sea breeze floated gently across the river to Langley Park and the blistering heat melted into a balmy summer evening. Classical music admirers picnicked alongside cricket fans and young families in an idyllic concert setting. The WA Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony in the City is fast becoming an established summer tradition.

My concert companions


A huge floodlit shell housed the orchestra and choir and a camera crew and audio team projected the performance onto screens around the park. The concert was also streamed live to Northbridge, Albany, Broome, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Margaret River and Port Hedland.


The logistics alone were impressive. And there was good incentive; an estimated 20 000 people received a season brochure and witnessed a sample of WASO’s 2014 program, all in a relaxed, non-snobby atmosphere.


Actor/comedian Eddie Perfect introduced the orchestra and the concert began with a selection of movie music including themes from Star Wars, Schindler’s List and The Fellowship of the Ring. The orchestra were in festive spirit – the first time I’ve seen a cor anglais player perform with flashing Christmas earings – and played with energy. Assistant conductor Chris Dragon took the helm for The Fellowship of the Ring wearing a bright red dinner jacket and conducting with flair. The Schindler’s List main theme was played with lyricism by assistant concertmaster Semra Lee-Smith.

Matthew gets his first concert lanyard

The WASO Chorus joined the orchestra for stirring performances of Verdi’s Triumphal March and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. The well-blended sound of the chorus (the legacy of retiring chorus director Marilyn Phillips) was noticeable even in the outdoor setting.


This was the final concert for principal conductor Paul Daniel and Nimrod (Elgar’s Enigma Variations) was an apt farewell, performed by the orchestra with heightened tenderness. The lesser-known Knightsbridge March from Eric Coates’ London Suite was a tribute to the conductor’s homeland. “This is to remember just how great England is despite what’s happening down the road,” quipped Daniel with a nod toward the WACA grounds. And of course there were the now-obligatory fireworks, bells and choir for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture bringing the concert to a spectacular, noisy finale. It was a fitting end to the year for our enterprising state orchestra.

                  This review copyright The West Australian newspaper 2013.