Queensland Conservatorium students and alumni are set to shine in a blockbuster season finale featuring a full symphony orchestra, soaring pipe organ, hundreds of choristers and eight vocal soloists.
A rare performance of Gustav Mahler’s epic Eighth Symphony will provide a showcase for the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra and opera alumni – the first time the work has been performed in Brisbane for more than two decades.
Known as the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’, it will be helmed by Maestro Johannes Fritzsch, a world-renowned conductor who has a long association with the Queensland Conservatorium.
A fitting finale
Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the concert would provide a fitting finale to the 2018 performance season.
“This work is a remarkable showcase for our best and brightest,” he said.
“Mahler’s Eighth Symphony also requires a special conductor – someone who can marshal the elements on stage and connect the complex ideas and musical relationships in the score.
“We are proud to have Maestro Fritzsch on board to helm this blockbuster performance.”
Returning to musical roots
As well as involving the entire Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, the concert will also feature a host of alumni as vocal soloists.
Renowned soprano Leanne Kenneally graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium more than 20 years ago, and is back to perform with her alma mater.
“The training I received at the Queensland Conservatorium was second to none, so it is fantastic to come back and perform with the students,” she said.
“I’ve never performed Mahler’s Eighth Symphony before – it’s a challenging work and not for the faint hearted, so I can’t wait.”
A wall of sound
Mezzo soprano Jade Moffat has been based in the UK since graduating in 2015 and is returning home to perform with the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.
“This is a huge collaboration and a huge scale work – one of the biggest in the concert repertoire,” she said.
“It’s going to be amazing to be part of it, it will be a wall of sound.”
Nurturing the next generation
Bass singer Luke Stoker is also returning home for the performance. After graduating with a Masters degree, he worked with Opera Queensland and Opera Australia and is now based in Germany.
“I have been hoping for a chance to perform in Australia for many years now, so it is great to be able to take part in this concert on home soil,” he said.
“The Mahler 8 is a very challenging work for all involved and it is a testament to the talent at the Queensland Conservatorium that we are able to stage such a piece.
“The teaching and guidance I received during my time at the Con created the foundation for my career as a professional singer in Europe. I’m very happy to be able to perform with the next generation of students, as they embark on their careers as professional musicians.”
Anna Stephens is a recent Honours graduate, and is now based in Sydney where she performs with Opera Australia.
“It’s really special for me to be invited back to perform at the Con – I had a wonderful time here and love coming back,” she said.
“I’m also looking forward to meeting all the other amazing alumni who have come back from overseas to perform in the Mahler, it will be a real honour to share the stage with amazing musicians who have international careers already.
“There’s something incredibly thrilling about being a part of something so grand.”
Mahler 8 is on at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre at 7:30pm, Friday 23 November.