Sydney Symphony Launches 2024 With Much To Celebrate

The stage of the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House was alive with purple blooms and silver highlights as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Chief Conductor Simone Young launched its 2024 program with a Season Opening Gala on Thursday 28 February.

There was much to celebrate as the orchestra announced the continuation of Young’s tenure as Chief Conductor with the ensemble until the end of 2026 and the premieres of two new pieces – one, the world premiere of Adam Manning’s Rhythmic Acknowledgement of Country and the other, the Australian premiere of French composer Camille Pépin’s violin concerto Le Sommeil a pris ton empreinte (Sleep retains your imprint) with soloist Renaud Capuçon, performed in the presence of the composer. Gustav Mahler’s incomparable Symphony No. 5 was the undisputed pinnacle of the evening.

The new look free Concert Guide gave comprehensive insights into historical and musicological aspects of the program along with artist biographies.

Adam Manning is a polymath with Kamilaroi kinship, currently working as the Conservatorium Coordinator at the University of Newcastle, NSW.  His work in music, art, production and education, connects ancient Indigenous traditions with contemporary expression. Rhythmic Acknowledgement of Country was a warmly received 5-minute cameo for which Manning joined the orchestra on stage, playing percussion. The piece blossoms from its quiet, lyrical beginnings into a rhythmically infectious full-blooded thrumming in which the entire orchestra led by Concertmaster Andrew Haveron, participates, playing clapsticks.

Camille Pépin (b 1990) wrote her violin concerto Le Sommeil a pris ton empreinte (Sleep retains your imprint) as a love story inspired by the writings of French Surrealist poet, Paul Éluard. This 25-minute piece has five movements, its style influenced by the American Minimalism of Adams, Reich and Glass, intersecting with the French Impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. The violin concerto was commissioned by the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestra National de Lyon and the Sydney Symphony.  Its world premiere was in April 2023, performed by Capuçon with the Orchestre National de France conducted by Young.

Le Sommeil a pris ton empreinte is an eminently engaging, virtuosic work of many moods, and colours and much beauty and lyricism, brilliantly executed by Capuçon. It is scored for two flutes (one doubling piccolo), oboes, clarinets and bassoons, four horns, three trumpets and trombones and tuba. Timpani, two percussion, harp, celeste and strings complete the ensemble performing with the soloist. Pépin, already a rising star in Europe is a young composer from whom I suspect we will hear a great deal more.

Mahler’s Symphony No 5 is a miraculous work which is astonishing as much for its expansiveness as for what Mahler packed into just 80 minutes of celestial music. With deft precision and grace, Young led the formidable players through Mahler’s years  of writing this masterpiece (1901-2). Ending in riotous optimism, we journeyed through the aching beauty of the Adagietto, Mahler’s love for Alma Schindler whom he married in 1902, his battles with his health and quarrels with the Vienna Philharmonic which he was conducting at the time. Ultimately, and to quote Mahler’s own words “it is simply an expression of incredible energy. It is a human being in the full light of day, in the prime of his life.” Mahler (b1860) was just 41.

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©

Simone Young Conducts Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is performed again on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at 8 pm, in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.

Can’t get to the concert or living outside Sydney? Watch Simone Young conducting Pepin’s Violin Concerto with Mahler’s Symphony No1 on Arte TV.


Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *