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Overture to the Season

The wait is over for fans of Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO) as the beloved ensemble kicks off their 2024 season with One Thousand and One Nights, an exciting triple bill featuring works by composers Mozart, Pärt and Rimsky Korsakov.

By Kate Conway

The last work ever written by Mozart, Symphony No.41 cleverly juxtaposes simplicity with complexity, inventive melodies and deep emotion. DSO Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Jon Tooby says the piece is the most Mozart of the prolific composer’s catalogue.

“In Mozart’s life he was effectively a servant delivering work to order. His genius was that he was able to do it so effortlessly, but it was very prescriptive. With his last works, he was very much more focused on what he felt,” he says.

The evening begins with a mesmerising work from Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The evocative Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten opens with the tolling of a single bell, before strings hauntingly descend through A minor scales performed at different tempos.

“I like to think it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope as it morphs into different shapes and colours. Because it’s basically strings and just one bell that rings throughout the whole piece, that’s the link that holds your attention. Everything else is kind of like this moving, meandering colour,” Tooby says.

“It’s just so beautiful. It’s not a tune, it’s an immersive experience.”

Closing out the program is Scheherazade, an orchestral suite by Russian composer, Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov, inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern folktales also known as Arabian Nights. One of the most famous pieces ever written, the music vividly transports the audience on a journey through exotic and mythical worlds.

The three works span the breadth of genre, from avant-garde to pure classical. Tooby says the varied concert is a taster for what’s to come this season.

“I think we often try in DSO to really mix things up. Because we’re not delivering a concert a week, which many state and territory orchestras do, we’re afforded that opportunity to create something pretty unique. It’s not a stuffy classical music program at all, it’s a real banger,” he says.

“We have the term 'overture' that depicts the opening of the concert, this whole concert is kind of like the overture to the season. It’s a welcome back.”

One Thousand and One Nights
WHEN SAT 23 MAR | 7.30PM
COST $22-$65

Photos: Hannah Herbert

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