Regional orchestra Sinfonia draws members from as far afield as Barrington, Taree, Port Macquarie and the Camden Haven, and they will be performing several concerts throughout November. The concerts will feature many Australian classics and the world premiere of three new works. Sinfonia’s Honorary Conductor, Heidi Lambert, fills us in on when and where we can hear Sinfonia’s magic sound …
Hi Heidi. Tell us a bit about yourself …
I moved from Lake Macquarie in September 2009 for a job at Physiotherapy Network. I have since changed jobs and work at Taree Physiotherapy and reside in Old Bar.
Prior to joining Sinfonia, I was playing in the weekly NSW Women’s Baseball State League based in Sydney, training as a member of the NSW Country Women’s Baseball team and playing in the pit orchestra for semi-professional musical theatre companies from Sydney to Newcastle.
In my spare time when not planning or conducting Sinfonia or Kantabile Chamber Choir, I love nothing more than to go out and photograph the area or getting in my kayak to explore the waterways.
What’s the history behind your involvement with Sinfonia – and what’s your current role?
I first played with Sinfonia in June 2011, but had actually gone along to the rehearsal to sing with Kantabile for the combined concerts. I walked in and was handed a pile of percussion music and told that as I was coming along to sing, I might as well play. I’ve continued to be involved with Sinfonia since that time and have been a board member, librarian, played percussion, piano, clarinet, saxophone and French horn with them.
I am currently the Honorary Conductor, librarian, roadie and driver of the equipment van.
My role as Honorary Conductor has me envisioning my plan for a concert, explaining my vision for concerts to others, sourcing music, planning rehearsals, planning for future events, begging friends to come and fill in missing parts, hosting friends when they come to play with Sinfonia, as they often travel two – three hours, liaising with the board, regular dinner planning meetings with Assistant Conductor Iain Pole, attending concerts to watch other musicians, playing with groups to reciprocate the favour of having them play for me and finally, performing the concerts in which I both conduct and play.
Somewhere in there I manage to find time for my “paid” job as a physiotherapist and to get a few hours of shut eye.
What instruments do you play yourself?
I play many instruments, but a lot of them are at a level to help inexperienced musicians in school and community music programs, which allows me to teach people to start their musical journey.
At performance level, I play saxophone, clarinet and percussion. I regularly play with big bands or travel to Newcastle to play percussion for brass bands. I am also learning French horn, which I play with Sinfonia and Manning Valley Concert Band.
What can you tell us about Sinfonia?
Sinfonia is a regional orchestra that has players travelling from Barrington, Gloucester, Great Lakes, Taree, Camden Haven, Port Macquarie, Pappinbarra and everywhere in between for both rehearsals and concerts. We have string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, which all combine to make the overall sound. Our players range in age from 13 to 90.
There are some upcoming concerts planned for the Manning and Greater Port Macquarie areas. Where and when will they be held?
The November concerts are being held at the Nabiac Showground Hall on 19th November, Laurieton School of Arts on 25th November and St. John’s Anglican Church Taree on 26th November.
What are some of the musical numbers we’ll be able to enjoy at these concerts?
The music encompasses I Am Australian, I Still Call Australia Home, a composition by the 2017 James Hannah-Sinfonia Scholarship holder Miguel Gutheridge and some of the all-time favourite Australian carols, featuring the combined choirs of Kantabile and Company of Voices.
Assistant Conductor Iain Pole has also composed a work in memory of long standing violin and viola play Shirley Smith, who passed away in June 2016.
I have also been gifted a copy of Merry Be You All, composed by Jon Seccombe and arranged by Peter Stephenson of Turn Around Studios. Jon has written this work for a Christmas performance in London, but as I helped with the percussion scores, we have the privilege of performing its world premiere in conjunction with the choirs and soloist Deirdre Sutherland. So, all up, we have the world premiere of three new works and a number of Aussie favourites for the audience to enjoy.
We’re in for a special treat too, with Sinfonia also performing music from the original score of The Man from Snowy River. How did this come about?
The Man from Snowy River is such an iconic Australian theme that is used widely for performances of concert bands and brass bands, ranging from beginners through to experienced musicians. I wanted the piece to be the opening work of the “Australian Landscapes” concert.
After many hours of searching for the original sheet music or an arrangement of it, I contacted Bruce Rowland, who is the well-known Australian composer of the score to the 1982 movie of the same title. After a long chat, he told me that he has never been contacted before to use the work and that people have written their own arrangements. He was so pleased that I had sought him out to find the music! We discussed any possible issues and how we could make it work for a small regional orchestra, so that it maintained the desired sound.
Several months on, I can say that I proudly own a copy of The Man from Snowy River orchestral work to open the concert. We have even added extra playing members to boost the sound, which requires five French horns, piano, harp and electric bass.
Where can we find out more info, or book tickets to the concerts?
Posters will soon be prominent around the concert areas with details of dates, times and ticket purchase options.
Tickets can be purchased online by going to www.sinfoniamnc.com.au or at the door of the concert venues. Prices are adults $25, Friends of Sinfonia $20, group bookings of 10 or more $20/person and children under 16 free.
If people are after further information about the concerts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Elizabeth Berry on 0437 662 525.