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A recent addition to Melbourne's cultural offerings
Jeanne Klovdahl, August 2012
The main reason I participate in U3A’s excursions is to learn things I never would have known about otherwise. The trip to the Melbourne Recital Centre on 18th July was no exception. The guide’s main point was that the building was constructed primarily to maximise sound quality and minimise extraneous noise. For instance, the seating is arranged to be acoustically level. Roman blinds installed in Level 2 absorb sound so that high-decibel jazz can be accommodated. Huge supporting springs encased in rubber and cement absorb the building’s vibrations from underneath. Designers had travelled all over the world in the building’s planning stages, which became abundantly evident as the tour progressed.
Completed in early 2009, the Centre is enjoying an annual increase in performances and in patronage. Aside from being shown the impressive Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (1000 seats) and the intimate and flexible Salon (130 seats), the group was taken to the rehearsal room, green room, dressing room and storage areas. Additionally, information was given about building materials, air circulation, and unique design features. The arch at the foyer’s entrance provides a protective feeling to patrons. The foyer itself was planned to suggest the inside of a violin case. The main hall’s shape represents a modified shoebox. Its walls, made of Tasmanian hoop pine, depict the wood grain of a violin. Front seats can be removed, elevated or lowered. The salon’s wall pattern is based on words written by Percy Grainger.
On the upper level the group was shown more interesting wall shapes (‘ears and eyes’), a large colourful tapestry, and seldom-seen views of Melbourne; all providing us with a most enlightening experience.
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Wednesday with Mozart . . . well, mostly
Merilyn Burt, May 2012
Oh, woeful Wednesday; a cold, bleak, windless Melbourne morning. However, ahead the Melbourne Recital Centre lights wink invitingly. Stepping in to the mercifully warm foyer, the smell of fresh coffee and a delightful display of small cakes greet me. I have arrived for morning tea and the Mostly Mozart concert.
This concert, Mostly Mozart: Symphony of the Gods described as being a classically, classical set was wittily introduced. The naive amongst us gaping in wonder at being told The Barber of Seville Overture by Rossini was written just after his fifth birthday. Whilst technically this is true, Rossini being born on Feb 29 1792, he was in reality twenty-one.
This was followed by Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante Symphony; achingly beautiful and Mozart’s last symphony, Symphony No 41 (Jupiter), all beautifully played by our Orchestra Victoria.
Oh, wonderful Wednesday!
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Listening to the Syzygy Ensemble
Lyndsey Burton, February 2012
On Monday 29th February Merilyn Burt’s Let’s Do Music group attended a performance by the Syzygy Ensemble at The Salon of Melbourne’s Recital Centre. Pierrot By Moonlight was the first concert of the ensemble’s year-long tribute to Schoenberg. They played:Towards the Beginning by Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, Sonata for cello by Debussy, Synergie by Erikk Sven Tüür, Vertical Time Study no.lV by Toshio Hosokawa and Night Window by Brett Dean.
Contemporary music, with its passages of dissonance and atonality is a challenge for many people. Many of us would not have chosen to listen to these pieces at home, but through the intimacy of the venue and the alchemy of live performance, the music drew in the audience. We saw the musicians catch each other’s eye, give and receive cues and most of all, and we heard not just the music; we heard the instruments. The clarinet’s keys creak when they move, bows rasp as they move across strings and unfamiliar music takes on an engaging depth and colour.
The immediacy and drama of Syzygy’s performance captured and delighted the audience comprising not just members of U3A City and concert-goers, but two of the composers as well as family and friends of the musicians.
The after-performance glasses of wine offered to the audience were very nice too.