Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Balalaikas and Cabaret in Robbo.

An extraordinary range of musical variety was experienced today, within the walls of the Robertson School of Arts Hall in Robertson, today.
We started with the Sydney Balalaika Orchestra.
At first appearances, they looked as if they might have been a rag-tag bunch of minstrels. Probably they are. But they can certainly play, and they came with an extraordinary wealth of Russian musical culture behind them. It is interesting that many of them are of Russian origins, or part Russian origins, but certainly not all of them. Ukrainian, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Scotch, Irish, and Australian are just those nationalities which I remember. The Director, Victor Serghei is of Russian/Romanian origins, though born in China.

Yuri, the smiling Ukranian.
Most of all, though, from my point of view, they clearly enjoyed performing and entertaining audiences and each other.
Yuri is playing a Domra,
a rounded form of the balalaika.
You can see the types of instruments which they play illustrated and explained on their Website.

Sophia Cece has a wonderfully powerful voice.

Lucy playing the Cimbalom with great intensity.

In the evening, we were treated to a wonderful performance by Geraldine Turner, accompanied by the marvelous pianist, Brian Castles-Onions, of Opera Australia.

Geraldine had performed in Robertson last year, from the stage of the School of Arts. Obviously she felt a bit remote ftom the audience in that performance, because this year she requested that she perform from the floor of the hall, with the audience seated in a semi-circle around her. That seating arrangement gave a very intimate tone to the performance, even though, as she confessed, she found it a bit scary at first.

Geraldine need hardly have worried - she had the audience eating out of her hand within moments of taking up the microphone. She is a consummate professional, both singer and actress, and above all, a performer.Some of the songs she sang were cabaret numbers, some from musicals. Her most popular number was from Oliver, (Nancy's "torch song" - "As long as he needs me"). My personal favourite was the unusual song by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht "Surabaya Johnny". Geraldine said this is "most demanding of the performer", and I was deeply impressed by her vocal range, as well as the feeling which she gave to the song. I snapped this image of her performance during that song. You can see the reflective mood she brought to the performance.
It was a wonderful concert.

I was delighted to be introduced to Geraldine and Brian after the show, by Mark and Maree Tredinnick. Guess what? Geraldine grows Tree Peonies!

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