This concert, set within the pristine surroundings of the Hawthorn Arts Centre, commenced with the Cloud Concert Youth Choir singing a welcome song entitled Many People in This World. The choir sang with warmth, sincerity and from the heart. This was followed by the Cloud Concert Jazz Band, comprising a rhythm section and a large front line of saxophones, trumpets, and trombones. Jazz standards with numerous solos were interspersed throughout the ensemble. The solos featured varying degrees of success, ranging from exuberant enthusiasm to reserved humility. As is customary with jazz solos, each soloist was applauded. The ensemble was capably directed by Mal Sedergreen.
The following Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano by Eric Ewazen was very well played by Clare Zu (French Horn), Eunice Ng (Violin) and Timothy Feng (Piano). The ensemble played with clarity and precision. The overall standard displayed effective rehearsal and excellent control. Similarly, an expressive and convincing voice was employed throughout.
The remainder of the concert featured three orchestras at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. It was immediately apparent how these levels represented various degrees of standard addressing intonation, balance, tone, rhythmic clarity, musicianship, and overall ensemble. The Cloud Concert Seedling Orchestra played an excerpt, Aragonaise,from Bizet’s Carmen Suite No.1. There were a few untidy ensemble entries here and there with rather poor intonation, which is forgivable at this level. The following Royal Fireworks by Handel was well directed by Jan Blazejczak. The string section was notably cohesive and well balanced.
The concert proceeded with the Cloud Concert Emerging Orchestra directed by Michelle Stanic. In the Hall of the Mountain King displayed an excellent acceleration towards the Coda, whilst the Les Toreadors from Carmen was performed with vigour, as was the Tchaikovsky Waltz from Eugene Onegin. At this stage, the orchestra displayed their enthusiasm for their conductor with their gentle stamping of feet on the floor, as a gesture of applause.
The final bracket of items consisted of the Elgar Cello Concerto, the Serenade No. 1 by Brahms, plus the Hungarian Dances numbers 5 and 6, also by Brahms. The cellist, Maggie Wang, performed with a reflective and warm tone. The performance displayed depth and assurance with poised phrasing between the orchestra and the soloist. Both Hungarian Dances required firm and concise direction alternating with tempo fluctuations and pauses. This was all very well directed by Brett Kelly. Clearly, this orchestra had the highest standard with membership by audition.
This concert was very well supported by the Chinese Community of Melbourne, evident from a full house in the upper balcony and the lower floor level. Overall, it was a most praiseworthy event.
Mark Dipnall reviewed the Cloud Concert Youth Orchestra’s* Mid-Autumn Concert 2023, presented at the Hawthorn Arts Centre on September 23, 2023.
*Cloud Concert Youth Orchestra (CCYO) is a non-profit organisation founded by the Australia-China Music Communication and Promotion Association in 2020 during Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown. The CCYO was founded to support and motivate the organisation’s young musicians to continue their music journey during the global pandemic, to provide them with a positive environment for them to communicate, and to provide a wealth of opportunities to perform.