Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) opened its 2019 season with Heavenly, a tribute to the work of Mozart and Mahler. Heavenly is also the first concert in the popular Maestro series, which showcases the talents of exceptional soloists from Australia and around the world, while celebrating the depth of musical talent within QSO. Under the guidance of Conductor Blendulf, the orchestra made a strong start to the year, captivating the audience from the first drop of the baton.

Paul Lewis, QSO’s artist in residence for this year, joined the orchestra to perfrom Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.27 in B flat. Championing an instrument that is so often left off stage and used only as an accompaniment, Lewis is a delight to watch. Striking each note with skill and precision his performance was mesmerising. Lewis has received critical and public acclaim worldwide for his interpretation of core piano works by Beethoven and Schubert,  and consolidated his reputation as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the central European classical repertoire. Securing him as artist in residence for this year is a testament to QSO’s abilities and high regard–surely Lewis would only choose to perform with elite ensembles around the world. He is sure to be a strong asset to QSO during his tenure this year.

Home-grown talent Morgan England-Jones, a Brisbane-based soprano originally from Mackay, provided the voice for the last movement of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Spirtual and profound, yet brushed with dark humour, the piece celebrates the composer’s love of nature, his eternal quest for meaning and gift for dazzling orchestral colour. Blending and weaving with the orchestra, England-Jones harmonies provided a rich texture to the music. Morgan-Jones has previously performed with the orchestra and she seems as comfortable among the strings and wind instruments as she would be in full operatic swing, her performance full of heart and conviction.

The Maestro series is a wonderful opportunity for the QSO to work with soloists in the top of their musical field. Drawing on the knowledge and skills of critically acclaimed performers, the benefits to the orchestral players are undoubtedly immense. The real winners, though, are the audience. Classical music enthusiasts, or anyone who enjoys an evening immersed in the creative arts and culture on offer at QPAC should take advantage of the opportunity the Maestro series offers to see a world class performer in our own backyard.

QSO will continue the Maestro series on Saturday 16 March with Romeo and Juliet.

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