It was an event that took 20 years in the making.
The Sunshine Coast Community Orchestra showed off its three ensembles, the Coast Symphony, the Concert Band and the Youth Orchestra, during a stellar two-and-a-half-hour gala performance last Sunday, May 26, to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The audience rose in several standing ovations.
Highlights included the soloists: returning concert pianist Mark Andrews who wowed the audience with Grieg’s Piano Concerto and soprano Elizabeth Currie-Buono who sang selections from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Possibly the biggest delight in this well-organized concert was the vocal performance by the Coast Symphony’s artistic director Edette Gagne. She and Currie-Buono sang together on the lovely Delibes aria from Lakme, known as the Flower Duet, while conductor Kathleen Hovey took up the baton to lead the symphony.
Hovey also fielded a group of talented young musicians in a performance of Corelli and Debussy music. The group included two German exchange students who are about to return home, but who have added to the small orchestra’s abilities.
Concert Band leader Janice Brunson was called away suddenly on a family emergency and Suncoast Phoenix’s Michael Grice stepped in to lead the band in the pastoral Ammerland and Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat.
Every ensemble was at their shining best and smiling more than usual.
At a reception following, many speakers reminisced about the early days of the association that began humbly in 1992 as a seven-violin ensemble. One of the speakers was Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe, who was friends with the orchestra’s first director, the late Tom Kershaw. Musician Jane Whiteley spoke about Kershaw who conducted from 1993 to 1995 and about some of the group’s original members who are still involved, including Michelle Bruce.
“If it were not for Michelle, we wouldn’t be here today,” Whiteley said.
The performance was filmed by Coast TV and will be broadcast at a later date.