music, medics and marimbas

If you fall ill on the weekend of May 29th, you could be hard pressed to find a doctor. That weekend, 6o doctors from around New South Wales gather in Sydney under the banner of The NSW Doctors’ Orchestra, to present their annual concert.

The lead up has the planning of a military exercise with music distributed months in advance, and rehearsals undertaken either alone or in small local groups before the larger ensemble convenes on the weekend of the concert. Each musician-medico has responsibility to themselves and to the group, to be performance ready.

Conducting the orchestra is Dr David Banney, a GP who in 1995 won the ABC-Westfield Australian Young Conductor of the Year Award. There is a well recognized connection between musical ability and the study of medicine. Music is also a potent social force and healer. Read Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia if you need convincing.

Turning their passion for music into a force for change, each year the orchestra donates its proceeds to a medical charity in parallel with its continuing support of music development via the City of Sydney Eisteddfod. This year, Muscular Dystrophy NSW is the medical beneficiary, whilst a competitor in the Sydney Eisteddfod will receive the NSW Doctors’ Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship.

The concert line up includes Saint- Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Leo Weiner Panaszos Enek (Plaintive Song), Sarasate Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) and Tchaikovsky SymphonyNo 6 Pathetique.

The two showcase works for violin (Saint-Saens and Sarasate) have been transcribed for marimba, performed by Sandy Sin, a finalist in the 2008 Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year competition. Sin has performed these transcriptions in Korea, but as far as she knows, the version for marimba and orchestra will be an Australian premiere.

“I am very excited for this….. The pieces that I’m going to play are already famous virtuoso violin piece and the audience will have some familiarity with them.  I also look forward to this occasion to take a step closer to the public and allow them to listen and feel the sound of marimba”.    

Conductor Dr David Banney says “The music of the gypsies has inspired composers of many countries. Parisian Camille Saint-Saens and the Spanish violinist Sarasate infused gypsy flavours into two great orchestral works – The Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Gypsy Airs. Usually played by violin, these pieces will sparkle in performance with marimba virtuoso Sandy Sin. Tchaikovsky’s last great symphony, The Pathetique ends the programme.

TICKETS: Sydney Eisteddfod on (02) 9261 8366, online: (Go to the Special Events section) or at the door from 1.00 pm.

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