Riverside Theatres Digital presents
The Metropolitan Orchestra
CLASSICAL DREAMTIME – ON DEMAND
The Metropolitan Orchestra’s (TMO) ground-breaking Celestial Emu performance, originally performed live at The Seymour Centre in March 2020 and led by TMO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Sarah-Grace Williams, will be shown in its entirety as it was delivered live on stage. This performance was a highlight in TMO’s long and acclaimed history featuring a unique world premiere written by Australian female composer Keyna Wilkins in collaboration with leading Indigenous didjeridu player Gumaroy Newman.
The event starts with Mozart’s iconic Symphony 40 which is an epic musical creation as dramatic as any tale ever told, full of elegance and refinement, with opening bars that have mesmerised music-listeners for centuries in one of Mozart’s most famous and recognizable works.
Following this dazzling concert opener, a pioneering collaboration between Wilkins, Newman and The Metropolitan Orchestra with the World Premiere performance of Celestial Emu (“Dhinawan”).
Wrapping up the unique concert experience is Prokofiev’s incredible Symphony no 1, Classical. Concise and playful, Prokofiev wittily juxtaposes his own daring musical language with typical melodic turns and gestures from Mozart’s time in what is one of the composers most famous works to deliver a thrilling climax to this outstanding performance.
Book tickets on this page for the On Demand offering on YouTube. If you’re looking for the Online Watch Party offering click here.
How You Can Access
The performance will be accessible On Demand into your home. Please note, the performance date & time listed on the bookings page is the end date for this On Demand show. The link will be available from Saturday 13 November 2021 at 10am – Sunday 28 November 2021 at 10pm only, on YouTube. This show is a streamed experience, and will not be available to view online after the event.
If you’re having issues connecting to our stream, click here to download our Streaming FAQ’s to help you.
The Metropolitan Orchestra
Under the baton of Founding Artistic Director & Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, The Metropolitan Orchestra is recognised as one of Australia’s most versatile orchestras, delivering consistently vibrant first-class experiences. Founded in 2009 and based in Sydney, TMO’s remarkable decade of music making boasts more than 600 concerts with a variety of events targeted at different demographics, including TMO’s highly acclaimed Met Concert series, family Cushion Concert series, free concerts, and national and international tours, as well as appearing on several album recordings and for numerous special events.
Over the past twelve years, an impressive roster of performers has appeared with TMO including internationally renowned artists José Carreras, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Bryn Terfel, Sumi Jo, David Helfgott, Elaine Paige, Anthony Warlow, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Marina Prior, Todd McKenny and the Grigoryan Brothers. TMO has also collaborated with other leading Australian arts organisations and institutions in concert including the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, Sydney Chamber Choir, Sydney Philharmonia, Pacific Opera and the Sydney Opera House.
In high demand as an orchestra-for-hire across Australia, TMO has received critical acclaim for their exceptional performance across numerous genres. Some performance highlights include concerts with film (most recently Jurassic Park, BBC’s Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy), providing mid-field entertainment at the NRL Grand Final, Opera in the Vineyards (in both NSW and South Australia) and sailing the South Pacific annually as resident orchestra aboard Bravo Cruise of the Performing Arts for the past 7 years. TMO has also been engaged to tour Australia and New Zealand with eminent touring artists and bands including 2Cellos, Basement Jaxx, The Piano Guys, Hiphop act Horrorshow, Air Supply and Joy Division.
After almost a year off the stage in 2020 due to the Covid-pandemic, TMO is excited to be presenting a jam-packed 2021 season, with already sold-out Met Concerts, Chamber Concerts, Cushion Concerts and album recordings. They will also be performing for several large-scale events and tours with audiences of over 5000, including performances of Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark with film and Synthony, with headliners Miss Connie (Sneaky Sound System) and Ilan kidron (Potbelleez).
An important focus in The Metropolitan Orchestra’s mission is to support Australian artists – orchestral players, composers, conductors, soloists and young musicians. In 2016 TMO launched its inspiring Composer Development Program unearthing new Australian composers, 2017 saw the of launch TMO’s Young Artist Program and in 2018, TMO proudly opened a Conducting Mentorship, for young conductors. In 2021, TMO announced its new Composer and Artist Residence Programs and TMO Junior Camp.
TMO has commissioned, performed and recorded world premieres by a number of Australian composers including Jim Coyle, Sean O’Boyle, Mark Grandison, Daniel Rojas, Bruce Mathiske, Elena Kats-Chernin, Nigel U’Brihien, Abiko Yusaku, Adrian Hallam, Heather Shannon, Gavin Lockley, Keyna Wilkins and Gumaroy Newman. TMO has also workshopped new works by Paul Stanhope, Stuart Greenbaum, Matthew Hindson and James Humberstone.
TMO has performed for several album recordings and in 2017 released their own album ‘The Metropolitan Orchestra – Live at the ABC Centre Sydney’ featuring performances recorded by ABC Classic FM.
TMO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor
Sarah-Grace Williams has been continually celebrated for her interpretation by the press: “In the hands of Williams this work became a tour de force of exceptional poise, eloquence and atmosphere” (Sydney Arts Guide)… “Williams succeeds in creating very pioneering and open soundscapes, creating an attractive new interpretative world” (Arts Hub)…”Outstanding conductor, Williams, is able to draw out the musicality in of each player and weld them into a wonderful orchestra with a great sound” (Paul Nolan).
A Churchill Fellow, Sarah-Grace Williams is the Founding Artistic Director & Chief Conductor of The Metropolitan Orchestra. Boasting an impressive conducting career, she has also conducted the Queensland, Adelaide, West Australian and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Bangalow Festival Orchestra, Queensland Music Festival Orchestra, Southern Cross Soloists and the ‘Synthony’ Orchestra amongst others. Additionally, Sarah-Grace is the Artistic Director of the Aspire International Youth Music Festival and has held positions as Musical Director of the Sydney Opera House Babies Proms, Stager Conductor at the Ukraine National Opera and Ballet Theatre and Conducting Fellow of the Australian Ballet.
Sarah-Grace has received constant recognition for her significant achievements including being awarded the 2017 Western Sydney University Alumni Chancellors Leadership Award (the highest honour the awards bestow), announced on the 2013 International Women’s Day Honour Roll for her outstanding achievements and contribution to the community, while also being hailed by Limelight Magazine to be amongst ‘10 of the Best Women Conductors – trailblazing talent leading the way for women conductors all over the world’.
Over the past decade, Sarah-Grace has conducted more than 500 performances and has collaborated with an impressive list of internationally renowned artists including José Carreras, Elaine Paige, Jack Liebeck, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Lisa Gasteen, Anthony Warlow, James Morrison, Katie Noonan, Kate Ceberano, David Helfgott and John Farnham, amongst others. In 2019 she conducted the Australian and New Zealand concert tours of Basement Jaxx and Air Supply, both with TMO. After the better part of a year being off stage due to the Covid Pandemic, Sarah-Grace is thrilled to have a very active conducting schedule for 2021. In addition to her TMO conducting commitments, she is also leading the Australian tours of ‘Synthony – A Celebration of Dance Music with Orchestra’, ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, amongst other events.
Listed in the Who’s Who of Australian Women since 2011, Sarah-Grace received her Bachelor of Music with a First Class Honours in 1998, before continuing conducting studies in Russia. She feels privileged to have had Alexander Polishchuk (Russia) and Johannes Fritzsch (Australia) as her primary conducting mentors.
Soloist – Didjeridu
Gumaroy Newman is a leading Indigenous yidaki (didjeridu) player descending from the Gamilaroi and Wakka Wakka nations South Western Queensland and North Western NSW. He has performed in over 40 countries including at Glastonbury Festival (UK) and is regularly called upon for major Australian such as performing for the Dalai Lama. He has worked with notable artists including Steve Tyler from Aerosmith, John Williamson, Doug Parkinson, celebrity Producer/singer Pitbull, Ross Wilson, Shane Howard and Christina Anu.
Around Australia he has recorded and performed with touring acts such as Ganga Giri, Waak Waak Jungi (NT), Yalakun Dancers (NT), Wild Marmalade (NSW), Kristian Benton (NSW) and The Zinnies of Ireland to name a few and performed at Woodford Folk and Peats Ridge Festivals.
In addition, Newman is an award-winning poet, song-man cultural educator giving regular talks and performances for schools and government events such as for NAIDOC week.
Newman is also deeply connected to the First Nations community and frequently involved in Indigenous ceremonies and gatherings. His passion is to preserve and share the many precious sounds, songs and stories of his people and use them as an invaluable medium to get across the beautiful message of the ancient ways, the ways that still hold him steadfast in today’s ever evolving world, the very same ways that have seen his people exist here for over eighty thousand years.
Keyna Wilkins is a pioneering Australian/British composer-musician at home in many musical worlds. She was one of three finalists in the Australian nation-wide APRA/AMCOS Art Music Awards for Excellence by an Individual in 2018. Her works are performed internationally and published by Wirripang. Sydney Arts Guide describes her recent collaboration with leading didgeridu player Gumaroy Newman for The Metropolitan Orchestra: “In Wilkins’ and Newman’s “Celestial Emu” didgeridu concerto, to hear the unmistakable reference to First Nations song so well pitted against The Metropolitan Orchestra’s Western Art Music instruments was a touching and admirable step forward. It received an extended and hearty standing ovation and will add tremendously to our orchestral music canon.”
She is an Associate Artist with the Australian Music Centre, has four tunes in the Australian Jazz Realbook and writes music for films and theatre. Originally classically trained on piano and flute and subsequently branching into jazz, flamenco and tango in UK, Germany and Sydney Conservatorium, Wilkins has also studied with Tibetan musician Tenzin Cheogyal on intuitive conceptual improvisation. Stylistically broad, inspired by Debussy and Miles Davis in equal measure, her compositions embark on a journey of impressionistic dream-like sequences alongside landscape depictions, existential spiritual quests and whimsical gestures.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV 550
- Molto allegro
- Menuetto: Allegretto – Trio
- 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.
Celestial Emu (WORLD PREMIERE)
- Emu Speaking: DHINAWAN GUWAALI
- Emu Eggs: DHINAWAN GAWU
- Emu Dance: DHINAWAN GAWARRGAY
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.
Prokofiev, Sergei (1891-1953)
Symphony No. 1 in D major, “Classical”, Op. 25
- Gavotte: non troppo allegro
- 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 Finaleprovides a brilliant conclusion to the concert, with flair and technical superiority required from all members of the orchestra.