After a successful debut in July featuring symphonies by Mozart and Schubert, the Canberra Sinfonia is back for a second concert that will feature both 18th-century and 20th-century music. The new semi-professional ensemble, conducted by Leonard Weiss, will be performing works by Haydn, Bartok, Handel and Mozart.
Weiss - who co-founded the Sinfonia, with Alison Mountain, and Helena Popovic says he was elated by the first concert, the success of which augured well for the ensemble.
"It was very well attended - there was a lot of immediate support for the Sinfonia."
The small chamber orchestra - with 22 performers in the upcoming concert - was formed to give recent music graduates more experience before they embarked on professional careers.
Presented in partnership with Wesley Music Centre, the concert features Canberra Sinfonia’s patron, soprano Louise Page.
Weiss says, "She gave me a big list of pieces she would love to perform."
From that they chose the baroque and classical repertoire for the vocal section of the concert, which gives the performers the opportunity to hone their skills as accompanists.
Page will be singing arias by Handel from the oratorio Semele and Mozart arias including Porgi amor from the opera The Marriage of Figaro and Per pieta from Cosi fan Tutte.
Weiss says Haydn's Symphony No 63 in C major (1781) will be played in its second version.
"It's a smaller orchestra version - no timpani, no trumpets," he says, which makes for "a very pure classical experience".
Unlike some of Haydn's symphonies - more than 100 - which could be stormy and dark, Weiss says this one is "full of joy and full of life".
The other work on the program is from the 20th century, the 1917 orchestral version of Bartok's Rumanian Dances, originally written for piano in 1915.
"They're all quite short - they have a vivid and immediate character," Weiss says.
The dances were based on and inspired by folk tunes but Weiss says the composer did not necessarily transcribe them but made them his own.
"I think they're full of life and have a very different energy to the classicism of Mozart and Haydn."
Director of the Wesley Music Centre Liz McKenzie says this is the first time the centre has partnered with an orchestra. She says it's the kind of thing that conjures up the thought, "Why didn't someone think of this 10 years ago?"
Now, "It feels as though I've got an orchestra."
She says, "It fits in perfectly with our outreach program."
The Sinfonia, she says, "brings people in, supports young musicians, and fits in with the mantle of the education of young musicians on their way to performing careers."
She says she was impressed by Weiss - a former Wesley Scholar - and his ideas, leading her to agree to have Wesley become a partner in the new venture.
McKenzie says she was very happy with the first concert.
"Some bits were really top material and others needed more work but that's what happens when you start a new ensemble."
She had a debriefing with Weiss with suggestions on how to make the next concert even better.
"I've got a lot of respect for him and what he does."