Go to an orchestral concert and the chances are your ear will be drawn to the violin, the cello, the clarinet, the flute or the oboe. Frequently, these are the instruments contributing solo and leading lines. Far less attention is given to the tuba player or the timpanist, as these instruments are more often than not injecting colour, propelling rhythm or adding resonance to the harmonic blend.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s new series Concerti Soloists affords audiences the chance to hear several “Cinderella” instruments in a new way. Composers tend to ignore the rich possibilities of certain instruments in mainstream symphonic music. The Concertos by Siegfried Matthus written for Timpani and Samuel Jones’s Concerto for Tuba explore a spectrum of tone and technique that are rarely heard.
Principal Percussionist Tim Corkeron says, “most orchestral repertoire doesn’t convey all the character the timpani can present. In the Matthus Concerto, the audience will be surprised that the timpani can play tunes, there are six drums, different tunings and refreshing pitchwork and, Matthus demonstrates that the timpani can whisper”.
“I like this work because the composer doesn’t just use the rest of the orchestra as an accompaniment. David Lale, Principal Cellist for instance has a solo at the beginning. Sometimes, the timpani sit under the strings and at other times it is at the forefront of the texture. There are two cadenzas featuring solo timpani that bind the three movements together”.
Corkeron says, “I’m enjoying the professional camaraderie with colleagues. Mostly, the players ask, “how do you want me to play this phrase and work in with your part.
One of my challenges will be to manage the new acoustic in the QSO Studio at Southbank. I’ve bought new sticks to bring out the right kind of sounds the piece needs”.
Presenting players as soloists is all part of QSO’s revitalised direction to enhance its mission and find fresh ways to value its players. The series showcases a few of the jewels in the QSO’s crown. The Horn Section is one of these. Beckel’s Images for Horns and Orchestra, In the Mind’s Eye is inspired by visual art. It creates musical effects that hint at various brushstrokes.
Peter Luff, Associate Principal French Horn says, “I came across it at last year’s International Horn Conference in Denton, Texas where I played it with four colleagues from the advisory council. I loved it immediately as it was written specifically for a five-horn section much like ours in Brissie” he said.
Thomas Allely, Principal Tuba has been working on Samuel Jones’ Concerto for Tuba for almost a year. Apparently, it is challenging not only for him but for the orchestra as a whole. It’s modern and has plenty of appeal. It’s an elegy commemorating an aeronautical engineer from the Boeing Corporation.
“It all started with Gerard Schwarz who conducted us last year. He said the Seattle Symphony had commissioned some good concertos for brass players. I got hold of a recording of Jones’ Concerto and really liked the work. There are plenty of Concertos for tuba out there but this one doesn’t just parade effects the instrument can make, it’s a really satisfying piece of music as well. There is a narrative. It moves through the stages of grief from lamenting to anger and finally acceptance”, says Allely.
Both Allely and Corkeron are thrilled to be soloists.
“It’s a great honour that the orchestra is prepared to put me out the front. It’s good for me personally” says Allely. Corkeron is just as chuffed to be slap bang right in the middle of the orchestra.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra presents
CONCERTI 1: ROMANTIC WHIMSY
Featuring conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, QSO Horn Section, Tim Corkeron (timpani) and Thomas Allely (tuba)
Venue: QSO Studio South Bank
Date: 7pm, Friday 8 March
Tickets: qtix 136 246
Top Right – Tim Corkeron
Bottom Right – Thomas Allely