Southern Cross Soloists Dazzle in ‘Fireworks and Fury’

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Ambassador thoughts

Southern Cross Soloists presented a dazzling afternoon of chamber music on Sunday in the QPAC concert hall.

‘Fireworks and Fury’ was a brilliant display of the ensemble’s skill, with some truly virtuosic solos. It was thoroughly entertaining to see each of the soloists push their instrument to the limit.

The concert featured SXS artists in residence Konstantin Shamray on piano and Chris Williams on didgeridoo. The ensemble was also joined by guest associate artists Jonathan Békés on cello and Natalia Edwards on French Horn.

The colourful program featured both well-loved and lesser-known chamber music alongside the world premiere of a new composition for didgeridoo.

Johann Adolph Hasse’s Mea tormenta properate! was full of light and shade, setting the tone for the concert. SXS performed with tender expression, evoking beauty and serenity. This contrasted with sections of anguish and darkness.

Cellist Jonathan Békés took centre stage for his solo moment, in David Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody. This piece blended folk and gypsy sounds with Romantic music. Jonathan played a simple melody before bursting into an improvisational section and building to a firework finish.

Next, SXS performed the first new work from their SXS Didgeridoo Commissioning Project. The ambitious project will commission new works for didgeridoo and chamber ensemble for each concert this year. SXS hopes to create a substantial new body of works by the time Brisbane will be in the world’s spotlight for the 2032 Olympics. The world premiere of Sean O’Boyle’s composition on Sunday showed the project is off to a great start.

Beerwah: The Pregnant Mother of the Glass House Mountains by Sean O-Boyle brings didgeridoo and chamber ensemble together in a new way. The work is deeply emotional, full of love and longing, and evoking the majesty of Queensland’s iconic mountains. SXS and Chris Williams displayed the virtuosic potential of the didgeridoo.

SXS Violist James Wannan then had his moment to shine, with two solo pieces, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy and Paganini’s La Campanella. James performed with warmth, evoking the romantic figure of Harold wandering through Italian landscapes. In the second piece, James tackled the technically demanding passages with ease.

Konstantin’s remarkable piano ability became clear when SXS performed Prokofiev’s third piano concerto. This work is known as the pinnacle of piano repertoire and requires great dexterity and stamina. Konstantin’s fingers flurried up and down the keyboard as the piece built to a furious finish. SXS received rapturous applause. Konstantin then performed Prokofiev’s Cinderella waltz as an encore.

Southern Cross Soloists’ ‘Fireworks and Fury’ was a passionate and fiery concert. It was great to see the ensemble performing together again, joined by stunning guest artists. Let’s look forward to the rest of SXS’ 2022 season!

Photo credit: Darren Thomas Photography

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About The Author

Claire Matthews

I was first introduced to classical music as a little girl, dancing ballet in a pink tutu. Although I’m not a ballerina now, my love of classical music lives on! I’m a marketer by day and a creative by night. In my free time, I love going to concerts, writing stories, painting landscapes, and playing violin and viola.

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