Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra impresses

THE Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra received a standing ovation at its first-ever performance in Naracoorte on Saturday.

About 240 people filled the town hall to watch the 70-piece ensemble.

Slow ticket sales in the lead-up had organisers uneasy but in the end there was enough interest from the community to make it worthwhile.

Local musicians included clarinet players Coralee McPhee and Geoff Stephens, trombonist Rob Mutton, flautist Wendy Maria, and former resident Sonja Gooding on tuba.

The Naracoorte Singers also featured, accompanying the orchestra for two songs - "Adiemus" and "Water Under Snow is Weary".

Conductor Angus Christie led the orchestra through the 14 baroque and contemporary pieces much to the delight of the audience.

Mr Christie is well known in the industry and studied conducting in Hungary before leading the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen symphony orchestras for eight years.

As well as working in the SE, he also conducts for the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra and the newly formed Hamilton Strings.

Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra manager Tom Dermody said Mr Christie and the players were high in their praise of the acoustics of the venue.

"Town halls and symphony orchestras are made for each other", he said. 

"The hard surfaces result in a 'bright' acoustic which players respond to. 

"That was definitely a factor in the energy of the playing on the night, and the enthusiasm of the players was certainly picked up by the audience, which was really responsive. 

"It is a delight to play to such an appreciative audience. 

"There certainly is a sizeable classical music following in Naracoorte."

A highlight of the night was a new compilation written especially for the orchestra by Beachport's Dr Chris Waite.

He only finished the piece in June this year and made final adjustments throughout the group's 10 week rehearsal period.

"Fanfarria L'Ale i Compassio - A Festive Overture" was commissioned through a Country Arts SA "step-up" grant.

Dr Waite said it was a reflection what he had been through recently while recovering from spinal surgery.

"To sum up, this overture calls us to, and celebrates the importance of, the breath and compassion in our lives," he said.

"Both the harmful and healing qualities of the breath have played a major role in my personal journey over the past two-and-a-half years, and out of this I have great respect for the importance of each breath.

"Musically, when I listen to the cross-rhythms in the orchestra...I often hear the orchestra breathing almost as if the orchestra is a mighty bellow."

Other memorable moments included 18-year-old soloist Elspeth Bawden and Year 12 student Jordan Mansell who played the piccolo trumpet.

Lee Castine, a member of the Naracoorte Singers, said it was a "spectacular" event.

"Everyone coming out of the theatre was just buzzing," he said.

"If the Naracoorte people keep supporting it like they did on the weekend the symphony orchestra will keep coming back.

"The key to ongoing success is tickets sold. If the people support it, it will survive."

Naracoorte Lucindale Council tourism and venues coordinator Nigel Nisbett agreed it was a great success.

"It's looking like it might happen again next year," he said.

The Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra repeated its performance to a sold out theatre in Mount Gambier on Sunday afternoon.