Review - 28 Sep 2023

Two beautiful symphonies conducted for final show

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra bade farewell to principal guest conductor Simon Over with a superb performance of two wonderful symphonies on Saturday night.

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra
Dunedin Town Hall
Saturday, September 23

Review by Brenda Harwood, The Star

A large Dunedin Town Hall audience was spellbound by the concert’s opening work — the world premiere performance of Anthony Ritchie’s Symphony No 6.

A beautiful and contemplative exploration of the emotions induced by the experiences of the Covid pandemic and the composer’s own illness, the symphony highlighted ideas of love, death, the afterlife and humanity’s relationship to the environment.

Filled with gorgeous lyrical passages, haunting woodwind solos and epic brass fanfares, Ritchie’s Symphony No 6 is an impressive musical offering from a composer at the height of his powers.

Under Over’s steady guidance, the orchestra was nimble and responsive, bringing the rising and falling dynamics to life and conveying the emotion of the work beautifully.

Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 — From the New World was an excellent choice for the concert’s second half, both for its well-matched themes and overall tone.

Influenced by a visit of the composer to America, the symphony features lyrical melodies and folk-like themes, building to exciting climaxes.

Again, the orchestra was brilliantly led by Over in a powerful and impressive performance of this fabulous symphony. Bravo!

During the evening, London-based Over announced that he was stepping down as principal guest conductor, after five Covid-interrupted years in the role.

He recalled some of the projects he had been involved in with the orchestra, and Ritchie, including conducting the premiere of Ritchie’s Symphony No 3, Remember Parihaka and also the epic orchestra-and-choral work Gallipoli to the Somme — which was performed in Dunedin and London.

We have been fortunate indeed to have such an impressive and in-demand conductor visiting Dunedin and working to influence the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra for the better.

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