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The Metropolitan Orchestra

MET CONCERT #1 2020 – Classical Dreamtime

8pm Saturday 7th March 2020
Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre, Chippendale
MOZART Symphony no 40
PROKOFIEV Classical Symphony
Conductor: Sarah-Grace Williams
Soloist Didjeridu: Gumaroy Newman

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV 550

A sombre brass fanfare begins as the sun crests the horizon, heralding the excitement of a new era for the Earth. A

I. Molto allegro
II. Andante
III. Menuetto: Allegretto – Trio
IV. Finale: Allegro assai

During the summer of 1788, Mozart was in a period of prolific composition during which he composed three complete symphonies in just a few weeks, along with at least half a dozen other works. These symphonies were 39, 40 and 41 (Jupiter), each completed on 26 June, 25 July and 10 August respectively.

The reasons behind the composition of these final symphonies is unknown, as unlike almost all his other works, no evidence of receiving a commission exists. Perhaps they were for a tour, or perhaps a series of concerts that were cancelled due to lack of interest (Mozart’s career was in a slump that would not recover until after his death in 1791).

The choice of key of this symphony is significant and a rarity for Mozart, as he composed only one other symphony in a minor key, his 25th, which was also in G minor. For this writer and clarinettist, the most exciting development in this Symphony was Mozart’s editing of the original score to add clarinets. Much to the frustration of his publishers, Mozart did not edit the original score (without clarinets), but rather re-composed a nine-page edit which included revised oboe and new clarinet parts.

Symphony 40 seems to reflect a sense of brooding depression that Mozart may have felt at his lack of personal fortune, and it remains to this day one of his most famous works.

© Andrew Doyle 2020

Wilkins, Keyna
Soloist: Gumaroy Newman (Didjedidu)


Celestial Emu (“Dhinawan”) is a ground-breaking collaboration between Keyna Wilkins, Gumaroy Newman and The Metropolitan Orchestra. Although the didgeridu was originally a sacred ceremonial instrument for northern First Nation Australians, this ancient instrument is being heard increasingly in contemporary classical Australian compositions. This new work focusses on integrating and unifying the sounds of both musical cultures, while showcasing the virtuosity and diversity of the instrument.

Celestial Emu is based on the legend of the constellation “Emu In The Sky”, from the Kamilaroi people of Northern NSW where Gumaroy comes from. The constellation appears in March and is fully visible in April-May, when it appears as if running across the sky. In June and July, the appearance of the Emu changes as the legs disappear. The Emu, which is now male, is sitting on its nest incubating the eggs. Later in the year, around November, the Emu once again changes appearance and becomes Gawarrgay, a featherless Emu that travels to waterholes and looks after everything that lives there.

The first movement opens with the didgeridu soloist off stage performing an improvised cadenza-like introduction on the D# didgeridu. As the soloist walks in, the lower strings enter with enigmatic and haunting melodic fragments and cluster chords, which gradually build to a dramatic climax under the didgeridu solo. A viola opens the second movement with a Debussy-like slow and ethereal melody, as if in the distance. The C didgeridu enters and plays a slow and rich melody, in between the viola melody. A waltz emerges with string and woodwinds under a mysterious and meandering lyrical melody. Dialogue between clapsticks and timpani heralds the transition to a song about emu eggs in the indigenous Gamilaroi language, composed by Newman.

The final movement begins with driving 4/4 rhythms in the string section, with woodwinds and brass eventually joining resulting in the full and vibrant sound of the whole orchestra. The F didgeridu enters improvising along to the 4/4 driving rhythm. After a crescendo and conclusion of the 4/4 section, the didgeridu has a virtuosic solo. For the ending, the driving rhythms of the initial 4/4 section return, finalising with a large crescendo to reach a fanfare-like climax.

© Keyna Wilkins 2020

Prokofiev, Sergei (1891-1953)Symphony No. 1 in D major, “Classical”, Op. 25

IV. Allegro
V. Larghetto
VI. Gavotte: non troppo allegro
VII. Finale: molto vivace

In an interview for The New York Times in 1930, Prokofiev stated, “In the field of instrumental music, I am well content with the forms already perfected. I want nothing better, nothing more flexible or more complete than sonata form, which contains everything necessary to my structural purpose.” In a time when the world was changing, and music was becoming more adventurous and abstract, this ideal and respect shown to past composers was rare and as can be heard in this symphony, special.

Considered as one of the first neoclassical compositions, Prokofiev composed this Symphony in the style of Joseph Haydn, hence the title ‘Classical’. He does not strictly adhere to classical style, but uses ‘modern’ compositional techniques and expresses his own unique compositional method.

The first, Allegro movement is in classical sonata form, with the recap occurring in the incorrect key that soon resolves, and Prokofiev occasionally omits a beat to upset the rhythm. The 2nd movement is a gentle pizzicato middle section sandwiched delicately between a floating violin melody that begins and ends the movement. The Gavotte is not inspired by the expected Viennese style, but reflects more truly French Baroque dance. The thrilling Finale provides a brilliant conclusion to the concert, with flair and technical superiority required from all members of the orchestra.

© Andrew Doyle 2020