The aptly named principal timpanist Tim Corkeron welcomed the 450 high school students to the packed concert hall, especially any budding timpani players. All were eager to hear the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s  Pictures at an Exhibition concert highlighting two important Russian composers, and a world premiere from the Victorian composer and writer Gordon Kerry. Fortunately, a lessening of border restrictions enabled both Kerry and conductor Benjamin Northey to come from Melbourne and participate in the momentous concert. Northey,  Limelight’s 2018  Australian Artist of the Year: People’s Choice Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra,  exclaimed how happy he was to be finally out of the house after a long, long year!

Benjamin Northey conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra Benjamin Northey conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Photo © Peter Wallis

The QSO opened with the rarely played pagan-themed Overture from  May Night by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The supernatural folk opera is based on the ghostly tale by Ukrainian Nikolai Gogol, about a witchy stepmother who causes her husband’s daughter to drown herself. The eerie music is distinctly Russian, starting...