|My Geography teacher Mr. Richard Mew had organised and booked the amphitheatre from Sydney City Council few months in advance.
|Warming up for Domeniconi's Koyunbaba. To the left is Alexandra Oomens photographing the event for the High School’s newsletter.
|Mr. Richard Mew introduced the event and gave a brief overview of the players and the purpose of this mini-concert.
|Almost ready to begin. We had a sound check and tested if everything was okay.
|I tried to bring out the sense of delicate sound flavours, Turkish, Western and Oriental Chinese amid the surrounding noise from the city life.
|The Epicology Trio. The band plays
a genre of music called Light Experimental Jazz. (Left to right, Shaun Rammers
on Saxophone, Morgan Merrell Percussion and Rees Hellmers on Electric Bass.)
|Sam Fischer is a promising vocalist, He is currently studying vocal with Barry Ryan and was recently called to audition for the 2008 School Spectacular.
|Watchful and hopeful eyes (From left to right, Mr. Richard Mew - Careers & House Advisor; Mr. Jeffrey Willey - Relieving Head Teacher of Music; Mr. Ian Barker - Deputy Principal.)
|Jessica Hitchcock took the stage with her incredible voice.
|The closing act was performed by Vitamin Jazz (From left to right, Emma Stephenson on Keyboards; Dominic Jones-Diaz on Vocals; Maddie Shearer on Bass Guitar; Nicholas Campbell on Lead guitar and Alex Hirlian on percussion.)
|Our audience. I wonder if their lunch tasted any different this time.
|Dominic Jones-Diaz passionately
blowing his Trumpet.
Outdoor concert at Sydney's Martin Place ~ Performance with Students from the Sydney Conservatorium High School ~ Apr 30, 2008
we were walking to Martin Place, I imagined the feeling of going
on the stage and playing in front of so many strange faces that
visit the plaza at the busy lunchtime hour.
The amphitheatre near
Castlereagh Street where free lunchtime entertainment is sometimes
staged was our destination on this beautiful sunny Wednesday.
Place is Sydney's largest pedestrian precinct, and houses some of
the grandest buildings of Sydney. From the Commonwealth Bank, Channel
7, the Museum of Australian Currency to the 1887 built heritage
Post Office building with its 230-foot clock tower.
there is the 1929 war memorial that remembers the Australians
and New Zealanders who died for their country during World War
I; and just a week earlier, over 30,000 people squeezed into
Martin Place to watch the dawn service at the Cenotaph.
became even more popular when the water fountain on Pitt Street
was featured in the movie The
This musical event was the initiative
of my Geography teacher Mr. Richard Mew. He had organised and booked
the amphitheatre (stage 2) from Sydney
City Council few months in
advance. His idea was to regularly schedule Conservatorium High School
students for public appearances; in part to build the experience
of the upcoming musicians through exposure, as well as to provide
enriched entertainment to various parts of the community while showcasing
future young talents.
Most of the performers on the list played before
in various public places and on various occasions; from School Formals
and wedding parties to hospitals and retirement homes.
consumed almost an hour of our time, including transporting the musical
equipment from the school and carrying them from where the van
was parked onto the stage. We had keyboards, guitars, trumpets,
drums, amplifiers, speakers and various supporting equipment.
scheduled to go first, and my choice was a Suite I came across a
week earlier called Koyunbaba Op. 19 by Carlo
Domeniconi (Italian guitarist
I saw various postings of it on YouTube and even heard a beautiful interpretation of the Moderato by Christopher Parkening (Featured on NPR).
I liked the most were the
version by the French guitarist Thibault
Kanengiser's (From the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet LAGQ);
and the American guitarist Andrew
Leonard. Andrew's version is quite a contrast in speed and suspense.
Slower than usual in the beginning then the real Presto storms in.
Unfortunately none of the postings contained
the full Suite, but eventually I was happy to come across the Chinese
Yang performing the
Carlo Domeniconi wrote Koyunbaba in 1985 while he was living in Turkey.
Domeniconi is known for starting the department for guitar studies
at the Istanbul University State Conservatory where he taught for seven years.
compositions reflect a Turkish folk influence, they are mixed in
Western and Turkish styles. It is known about Domeniconi that he
encourages musicians to interpret his music freely, rather than playing
it as it’s written. For example, the Koyunbaba score hardly contains
any dynamics signs.
Just play the music freely, while taking time; as long as you bring
about the Turkish essence within it.
The name Koyunbaba literally
translates as “sheep-father or shepherd”. Some even translate it
spirit of the sheep”.
The name also refers to a 13th century mystical saint-like
figure whose grave is decorated with coloured bits of cloth by Turkish villagers
seeking his help with family problems.
is also the family name of the saints' descendants, who still live on a piece
of land in a wild, dry region of Southwest Turkey.
According to local legend,
this land is cursed. People who have attempted to rent or purchase the land from
the Koyunbaba family have died or fallen ill (Source Wikipedia.)
So I thought the style of this
musical piece is interesting. The Moderato is reminiscent of Dire Straits,
especially when played with Rubato. The Mosso is almost Asian, with beautiful
nuances that it’s hard to believe they are produced by a non-oriental instrument.
And of course the Presto movement is dynamic and conveys suspense and a sense
of a chase.
The repetitive melody in the Presto definitely reminds me of the classic chase
scene from the movie Midnight Express, which is also a storyline taking place in Turkey (Composed by the Academy Award-winning Italian composer Giorgio
While we’re still on the topic of Midnight Express, there’s an arabesque
electronica version of Moroder’s Chase performed live at the Bern Jazz Festival
2003 in Switzerland by Jean-Pierre Smadja and Mehdi Haddab on Electric & Acoustic
Oud. Great and fast-thumping Oud work.
So my imagination connected everything
and it’s a bit mixed up now.
I’m about to play
music about a haunted piece of land in Turkey; the Presto movement reminds me
of a movie about a story in Turkey; and just a week ago the ANZAC celebration
took place in Martin Place which is essentially about the Allied expedition that
landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1929 with the objective to capture Istanbul,
capital of the Ottoman Empire. Whoa!
And now when I think about it, perhaps it
wasn’t the right choice for the place.
The connections make you think a little if you want to entertain yourself with
As we were almost ready to begin, we had a sound check and tested if everything
was okay. For some reason, there was a lot of feedback signal when the volume
was turned up to acceptable levels. Maybe the microphone used to amplify my guitar
was a little close to the speaker in the back.
The Plaza is a hustling and bustling
place, a lot of people are around and cars and buses in the adjoining streets.
I discovered that outdoor performance isn’t that easy to produce. And especially
for a classical guitar, you need the right gear for amplification.
So we had
no choice but to settle on the medium level volume, which only allowed the
audience in close proximity to hear; even still they had to strain to hear
the soft passages (Next time I’ll
be better prepared.)
Mr. Mew introduced the event and gave a brief overview of
the players and the purpose of this mini-concert, and then Jessica Hitchcock
I talked a little about Koyunbaba and Carlo Domeniconi, about the legend
the piece was based on and proceeded to arpeggiate the first haunting bar of
I tried to bring out the sense of delicate flavours, Turkish, Western
and Oriental Chinese. But the surrounding noise from the city life kept ringing
in my ears, but I stayed focused on the music as difficult as it was not to be
distracted. There were even a couple of loud sirens from the front and back streets,
which flooded my hearing.
When I had finished with the last humming note that
fades away, I looked up and smiled. This was my first big outdoor performance.
The audience applauded while I bowed and walked off the stage while Mr. Mew beamed
Luckily the following performances didn’t suffer from the sound
issue; the instruments are naturally loud even without amplification.
was The Epicology Trio.
The band plays a genre of music called Light Experimental
Jazz. Rees Hellmers is on Trombone and Electric Bass; Morgan Merrell Percussion
and Shaun Rammers on Saxophone.
The trio formed in 2007 and recently they have
performed at the multi-arts venue Bar
Me in Potts Point, simultaneously releasing
their new CD “Track
They also performed at various weddings and school formals. They are all
Year 12 students at the Sydney
Conservatorium High School. Rees Hellmers is majoring
in Trombone and Electric Bass; Morgan Merrell is studying Composition and Percussion;
and Shaun Rammers is studying Saxophone under James
Nightingale. All three performers
have their own unique style that has been combined together to create a sound,
which has been described as flavourful and exciting.
The third act was a promising
vocalist, Sam Fischer. Sam is new at the Conservatorium High School. A Year 11
student who formerly attended Sydney
Grammar School. He’s
currently studying vocal with Barry Ryan.
Sam was recently called to audition
for the 2008 School Spectacular. Congratulations.
Then Jessica Hitchcock took the stage with her incredible voice. Jessica had extensive experience in performance
and starred at last year's School Spectacular. Now she was called back to audition
for the 2008 School Spectacular.
Jessica is a Singer, Bassoon
Player and a Pianist and currently in Year 12 at the Conservatorium High School
studying with Joy Yates. She is the Brahms House Captain.
Vitamin Jazz performed the closing act.
It was highly received and stopped many
bystanders, especially their performance of “Sweet Home Chicago” (Written by
Robert Johnson and popularised by The Blues Brothers.)
Then they followed it with Chameleon (Herbie
Hancock), Blue Bossa (Kenny
Dorham) and they wrapped up their
act with Blue
Rodgers & Lorenz Hart.)
Vitamin Jazz features Dominic Jones-Diaz on Vocals
and Trumpet; Nicholas Campbell on Lead guitar and Sax (Both in Year 12); Emma
Stephenson on Keyboards; Maddie Shearer on Bass Guitar (Both in Year 11); and
Alex Hirlian on percussion (Year 8).
Vitamin Jazz has recently formed and will
be recording shortly. They are all fine musicians individually and make a great
sound playing Jazz standards and Funk / Hip Hop numbers.
It was a wonderful day.
Thanks Mr. Mew for investing your time and for allowing us the freedom to participate
and share our music.