On Saturday 14 September 2013, the Southern Sinfonia held its annual ‘Play with the Orchestra’ event. This is when players from the Southern Sinfonia invite musicians from Dunedin’s other established musical ensembles such as the Collegiate Orchestra, Community Orchestra, Otago Symphonic Band and of course the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, to play some music that the Southern Sinfonia will soon be performing.
This year we were joined once again by London based conductor Simon Over who led us through Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances as well as the first movement of his Symphony No. 6.
The afternoon began with the Slavonic Dances (which, I found out, has some nasty viola passages!). I heard sighs of relief from the players when Simon decided to take the piece slightly under tempo, so instead of its proper Presto Vivace, we took it slower — just Presto. Simon did a great job of taking sections apart, allowing us to hear other parts we might not have noticed but were quite important, before adding other instruments part by part to create a bigger texture and sound.
After a final run through of the piece we took 20 minutes to have a break and grab a cup of tea, a great chance for us to mingle with other members of different ensembles and get any pointers from our assisting Sinfonia members!
After the break we began work on the Symphony. We ran it once right the way through, before taking a few sections apart. Simon showed us areas and motifs to bring out and which parts to accentuate or lean back on; all the little things that Dvořák wrote to add colour to the composition. The sound we produced was quite fantastic and I saw many toes tapping and smiling when we struck the final chord. The other musicians who attended all said they had a really enjoyable time and learned a great deal even in such a short time.
On behalf of the DYO members who attended I’d like to say thank you the Southern Sinfonia for letting us be a part of your music making, the organiser Hannah Cone, without whom we wouldn’t know what was going on! And of course to Simon Over for taking the time to teach us inspiring orchestral players some fantastic music!
(Personal thanks to my desk partner Alison Bowcott for teaching me the secrets of page turning…)
Hear the Southern Sinfonia perform Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6, conducted by Simon Over, in their upcoming concert “Journey to Central Europe” this Saturday 21 September at 7:30pm in the Dunedin Town Hall. For further information, visit SouthernSinfonia.org. To book tickets online, visit TicketDirect.