Sam Weller and his Ensemble Apex musicians might be young, but they sure know how to put on a show. The orchestra performed its final concert for the year on the stage of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Verbrugghen Hall, and while this was a more formal setting than the Powerhouse Museumor the Lower Town Hall– there was no lengthy beer queue snaking around the edge of the audience – Weller and the band conjured up an exciting, boisterous atmosphere in this program of Varèse, Ligeti and Stravinsky.

Ensemble Apex Ensemble Apex. Photo © Ant Geernaert

The formality and conventions of orchestral tuning were lampooned in the opening work, Edgard Varèse’s Tuning Up, sketched – but never completed – for the 1947 film Carnegie Hall, and performed here in a version pieced together by Chou Wen-Chung. Brash flourishes bloomed out of the drone of the orchestra’s tuning note, in a wild, tumultuous work full of surprises and sirens. The piece contains quotations from Varèse’s own music, with flashes of more familiar fare emerging from the chaos – a flicker of Paganini’s ninth Capricefrom Concertmaster Amanda Chen, a few notes of...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now