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Reviews/Music

A lunchtime treat

17 May 2018

Review: Concerts at One, Recital II, Christ Church Grammar School ·
St George’s Cathedral, 16 May ·
Review by Leon Levy ·

The attractive annual season of lunchtime recitals at St George’s Cathedral is now under way, and Wednesday’s was the second off the blocks. The featured recitalists were the “Talented Music Students from Christ Church Grammar School”, as the programme put it, and they met that description through the full age spectrum of the senior years, 7 to 12.

The potentially intimidating task of opening the concert fell to Year 12 student Akio Ho (pictured top), but as he had the Cathedral’s new Fazioli concert grand on which to play Gershwin’s Prelude No 1, he might well have regarded the challenge as a privilege. It was one to which he was certainly the equal.

Ruben Davies
Ruben Davies

Joshua Chen faced challenges of a different sort in “Julie-O” for solo cello, composed by Californian Mark Summer, one of the founders of Turtle Island Quartet (who visited WA for the Perth Festival some years ago). It is something of a virtuoso piece requiring the soloist to mix techniques in rapid succession during its four minutes, which Chen did coolly and effectively.

The mellow tones of Felix Mendelssohn’s Andante for French Horn in the self-possessed control of Ruben Davies made for a pleasing contrast and set the scene nicely for the Rondo movement from Mozart’s Duo in G Major for violin and viola, confidently executed by Daniel Zhou and Christian Wong respectively and providing a highlight of the recital.

Arman Brian
Arman Brian

By this stage in the proceedings one might have thought that Christ Church had no vocal tradition to display, but Arman Brian’s performance of “I’m Not The Only One”, by popular young English singer-songwriter Sam Smith, proved otherwise.  Arman demonstrated great skill in vocals and electric guitar, both of which responded well to the cathedral acoustic, drawing an enthusiastic reaction from the mainly older audience, clearly undaunted by the modern idiom.

Wieniawski’s Polonaise No 1 in D Major is something of a show-stopper, beloved of violin virtuosi through the ages. William Wu, the youngest musician on the bill, launched into the famous old warhorse with a confidence that he justified by maintaining accuracy and intensity all the way through to the final bar.

That was going to be a hard act to follow, but the almost-identically named William Hu did just that by playing, with sensitivity and aplomb as required, his own impressive piano composition, “Rhapsody”, and navigating its virtuoso moments with total assurance.

There was a warm reception both for it and for the recital as a whole, which the music staff must most certainly share with today’s students. One would be intrigued to hear another vocal item next time, be it choral or in smaller combination… but that is being greedy!

“Concerts at One” take place at St George’s Cathedral, at 1pm on selected Wednesdays until September 19.

Photos: Rhiannon Hodgson

Christ Church recitalists
Christ Church recitalists
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Author —
Leon Levy

Leon Levy‘s career was spent in commerce, but in retirement continues a lifetime’s interest in the arts generally and choral singing in particular. He enjoys occasional reviewing with its challenge of giving total focus to each performance. Leon remains attracted to playground slides under the cover of supervising his grandchildren.

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