Rediscovering a love of music

Ashley ArbuckleHow long has it been since you picked up a musical instrument? Do your playing days seem long ago?

One man is hoping to make a difference for musicians in Perth as he helps them rediscover the joy of playing music.

Ashley Arbuckle is a past concertmaster of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and former co-leader of the London Symphony Orchestra.

He has developed a very high reputation as a teacher of the violin and is currently artistic director of the WA Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ashley has now developed plans to lead a new string orchestra with a difference. Encore Strings is an orchestra for those who’ve packed their instruments away thinking life has become too busy to enjoy playing music together with other music lovers.

I want people to rekindle their passion for music by bringing their violins, violas, cellos and basses out from under the bed and dusting them off.

Ashley joined me in the studio during my radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM today to tell listeners a little more about his vision for Encore Strings. We also talked about the variety of musical styles that have been enhanced with orchestral backing. Ashley tells a great story of an encounter with Frank Zappa when the London Symphony Orchestra was recording with him.

You can hear our chat by clicking the play button at the bottom of this post.

Ashley understands well the pain of life without being able to play music. Some years ago it was thought that his musical career could be over due to injury. Thankfully, he made a full recovery after successful brain surgery by the renowned Sydney neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo.


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Human Nature with WASO

Human_Nature.jpgLife is starting to settle down to normal after a long weekend in Western Australia.

We headed out to the magnificent Kings Park and Botanic Gardens on Saturday evening to see Human Nature with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

There were a couple of rain showers before the guys made it to the stage so there was a little concern that the weather would set in and the concert would have to be cancelled. Thankfully nothing more came of it so we were able to stay dry for the rest of the night.

WASO is great no matter what they’re playing and having Human Nature singing their hits with the backing of such a superb orchestra made for a magical evening. All in all it was a fabulous family night out.

As I was sitting on our blanket I realised that I just can’t sing like those guys, I don’t look that good in a suit, and I certainly could never manage the moves that they do. I guess that’s why they sell truckloads of albums and I don’t.

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In conversation with Nancye Hayes

Nancye Hayes has performed in many major musical productions including Cabaret, Chicago, Sweeney Todd and Showboat. She has also worked behind the scenes as a choreographer and director. Nancye has appeared on television in programmes as diverse as Home and Away, The Dismissal, and Spicks and Specks. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1981.

It would take far too long to list all her career achievements so I’ll just say that Nancye Hayes is a true legend of stage and screen.

I had the opportunity to talk to Nancye during my morning radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM today. She was a delight to meet and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to chat with her. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

Nancye is in Perth for Australia’s Leading Ladies, an amazing concert event with the WA Symphony Orchestra at the Perth Concert Hall tomorrow, Friday and Saturday evenings. The show features Rachael Beck, Rhonda Burchmore, Judi Connelli OAM, Sharon Millerchip, Geraldine Turner OAM, Anne Wood and conductor Sean O’Boyle.

The seven magnificent leading ladies of musical theatre will perform classics from The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Miss Saigon, Chicago and many others. As well as performing, Nancye will take the additional roles of director and compere.

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WASO 2009

WASO_Logo.jpgThe WA symphony Orchestra launched their 2009 Season at the Perth Concert Hall on Monday night.

Conductor Paul Daniel led the orchestra through some wonderful pieces including an excerpt from an amazing piece of music by Peter Sculthorpe, named Kakadu, which draws its inspiration from Kakadu National Park.

The evening began with the well known opening theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There were pices from Beethoven, Stravinsky and so much more. The WASO Chorus joined in too with an amazing rendition of the Hallelujah chorus.

There’s something quite amazing about hearing and watching an orchestra in full flight. I’m always amazed at how all the different instruments fit together so well.

As well as the various classical concerts scheduled for the 2009 Season, WASO will be supporting artists such as Roberta Flack, Human Nature and Ben Lee. The orchestra is truly committed to taking their music to a very wide audience. I saw them backing Glen Campbell earlier this year in an incredible concert.

If the preview they gave us of the 2009 Season is any indication it’ll be an amazing season.

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In the presence of greatness

glencsmpbell.jpgA 71 year old shouldn’t be able to do that.

I took my 11 year old daughter Emily to see Glen Campbell performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) last night at the Burswood Theatre. The guy is absolutely amazing.

I’ve never really been a big Glen Campbell fan but many of his songs have helped fill out the soundtrack of my life. I was asked by WASO if I’d like the opportunity to interview Glen’s daughter Debby on 98five Sonshine FM just before Christmas. Debby travels and sings with her dad on some of his tours.

I enjoyed chatting to Debby (You can hear the interview by using the audio player at the bottom of this post.) and when I was asked if I’d like to go to the show I was more than happy to accept.

Having WASO involved always meant that it would be a spectacular show but it was even more impressive than I could have hoped.

Glen Campbell took to the stage and opened with Gentle On My Mind then Galveston and then continued to roll out hit after hit. His voice was in fine form but his guitar playing is extraordinary. Seeing him play the William Tell Overture on his 12 string electric guitar was breath taking. When he perched the guitar on top of his head and continued playing at lightning speed I just thought to myself that a guy of his age really shouldn’t be able to do that. The guy is 71 years of age but apparently no one has told his fingers that.

When Debby was introduced I was ready for a change of pace and possibly some good vocals. She blew me away. She has a magnificent voice and it amazes me that she isn’t recording and performing full time. As well as doing a few songs on her own she joined her father for a number of duets. Brilliant.

The song I was really wanting to hear was the first one after intermission. As soon as the orchestra started playing I knew that Witcheta Lineman was on the way. It’s a song I love and the performance didn’t dissapoint.

Towards the end of the evening Glen Campbell walked on with some bagpipes which he says are the most temperamental instrument he’s ever tried to master. He used the bagpipes to great effect during a moving rendition of Amazing Grace.

The evening was completed with a fantastic version of McArthur Park. It’s an incredible piece of music and the orchestra really got the opportunity to show just how good they are by performing faultlessly.

Oh … and about me saying that I’ve never really been a big Glen Campbell fan … I sure am now. I’ll be grabbing a greatest hits CD as soon as I can.

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