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Outdoor concert at Sydney's Martin Place
My Geography teacher Mr. Richard Mew had organised and booked the amphitheatre from Sydney City Council few months in advance.
My Geography teacher Mr. Richard Mew had organised and booked the amphitheatre from Sydney City Council few months in advance.
Warming up for Domeniconi's Koyunbaba. To the left is Alexandra Oomens photographing the event for the High School?s newsletter.
Warming up for Domeniconi's Koyunbaba. To the left is Alexandra Oomens photographing the event for the High School?s newsletter.
Mr. Richard Mew introduced the event and gave a brief overview of the players and the purpose of this mini-concert.
Mr. Richard Mew introduced the event and gave a brief overview of the players and the purpose of this mini-concert.
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Almost ready to begin. We had a sound check and tested if everything was okay.
Almost ready to begin. We had a sound check and tested if everything was okay.
I tried to bring out the sense of delicate sound flavours, Turkish, Western and Oriental Chinese amid the surrounding noise from the city life.
I tried to bring out the sense of delicate sound flavours, Turkish, Western and Oriental Chinese amid the surrounding noise from the city life.
The Epicology Trio. The band plays a genre of music called Light Experimental Jazz. (Left to right, Shaun Rammers on Saxophone, Morgan Merrell Percussion and Rees Hellmers on Electric Bass.)
The Epicology Trio. The band plays a genre of music called Light Experimental Jazz. (Left to right, Shaun Rammers on Saxophone, Morgan Merrell Percussion and Rees Hellmers on Electric Bass.)
Sam Fischer is a promising vocalist, He is currently studying vocal with Barry Ryan and was recently called to audition for the 2008 School Spectacular.
Sam Fischer is a promising vocalist, He is currently studying vocal with Barry Ryan and was recently called to audition for the 2008 School Spectacular.
Watchful and hopeful eyes (From left to right, Mr. Richard Mew - Careers & House Advisor; Mr. Jeffrey Willey - Relieving Head Teacher of Music; Mr. Ian Barker - Deputy Principal.)
Watchful and hopeful eyes (From left to right, Mr. Richard Mew - Careers & House Advisor; Mr. Jeffrey Willey - Relieving Head Teacher of Music; Mr. Ian Barker - Deputy Principal.)
Jessica Hitchcock took the stage with her incredible voice.
Jessica Hitchcock took the stage with her incredible voice.
The closing act was performed by Vitamin Jazz (From left to right, Emma Stephenson on Keyboards; Dominic Jones-Diaz on Vocals; Maddie Shearer on Bass Guitar; Nicholas Campbell on Lead guitar and Alex Hirlian on percussion.)
The closing act was performed by Vitamin Jazz (From left to right, Emma Stephenson on Keyboards; Dominic Jones-Diaz on Vocals; Maddie Shearer on Bass Guitar; Nicholas Campbell on Lead guitar and Alex Hirlian on percussion.)
Our audience. I wonder if their lunch tasted any different this time.
Our audience. I wonder if their lunch tasted any different this time.
Dominic Jones-Diaz blowing his Trumpet.
Dominic Jones-Diaz passionately blowing his Trumpet.
Outdoor concert at Sydney's Martin Place ~ Performance with Students from the Sydney Conservatorium High School ~ Apr 30, 2008
While we were walking to Martin Place, I imagined the feeling of going on the stage and playing in front of so many strange faces that visit the plaza at the busy lunchtime hour.

The amphitheatre near Castlereagh Street where free lunchtime entertainment is sometimes staged was our destination on this beautiful sunny Wednesday.
Martin Place is Sydney's largest pedestrian precinct, and houses some of the grandest buildings of Sydney. From the Commonwealth Bank, Channel 7, the Museum of Australian Currency to the 1887 built heritage Post Office building with its 230-foot clock tower.
Also located there is the 1929 war memorial that remembers the Australians and New Zealanders who died for their country during World War I; and just a week earlier, over 30,000 people squeezed into Martin Place to watch the dawn service at the Cenotaph.
The plaza became even more popular when the water fountain on Pitt Street was featured in the movie The Matrix.

This musical event was the initiative of my Geography teacher Mr. Richard Mew. He had organised and booked the amphitheatre (stage 2) from Sydney City Council few months in advance. His idea was to regularly schedule Conservatorium High School students for public appearances; in part to build the experience of the upcoming musicians through exposure, as well as to provide enriched entertainment to various parts of the community while showcasing future young talents.
Most of the performers on the list played before in various public places and on various occasions; from School Formals and wedding parties to hospitals and retirement homes.

The set-up consumed almost an hour of our time, including transporting the musical equipment from the school and carrying them from where the van was parked onto the stage. We had keyboards, guitars, trumpets, drums, amplifiers, speakers and various supporting equipment.

I was scheduled to go first, and my choice was a Suite I came across a week earlier called Koyunbaba Op. 19 by Carlo Domeniconi (Italian guitarist and composer.)
I saw various postings of it on YouTube and even heard a beautiful interpretation of the Moderato by Christopher Parkening (Featured on NPR).
The ones I liked the most were the version by the French guitarist Thibault Cauvin, William Kanengiser's (From the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet LAGQ); and the American guitarist Andrew Leonard. Andrew's version is quite a contrast in speed and suspense. Slower than usual in the beginning then the real Presto storms in.
Unfortunately none of the postings contained the full Suite, but eventually I was happy to come across the Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang performing the full Suite.

Carlo Domeniconi wrote Koyunbaba in 1985 while he was living in Turkey. Domeniconi is known for starting the department for guitar studies at the Istanbul University State Conservatory where he taught for seven years.
His compositions reflect a Turkish folk influence, they are mixed in Western and Turkish styles. It is known about Domeniconi that he encourages musicians to interpret his music freely, rather than playing it as it?s written. For example, the Koyunbaba score hardly contains any dynamics signs.
Just play the music freely, while taking time; as long as you bring about the Turkish essence within it.

The name Koyunbaba literally translates as ?sheep-father or shepherd?. Some even translate it to "the spirit of the sheep?.
The name also refers to a 13th century mystical saint-like figure whose grave is decorated with coloured bits of cloth by Turkish villagers seeking his help with family problems.
Koyunbaba is also the family name of the saints' descendants, who still live on a piece of land in a wild, dry region of Southwest Turkey.
According to local legend, this land is cursed. People who have attempted to rent or purchase the land from the Koyunbaba family have died or fallen ill (Source Wikipedia.)

So I thought the style of this musical piece is interesting. The Moderato is reminiscent of Dire Straits, especially when played with Rubato. The Mosso is almost Asian, with beautiful nuances that it?s hard to believe they are produced by a non-oriental instrument. And of course the Presto movement is dynamic and conveys suspense and a sense of a chase.
The repetitive melody in the Presto definitely reminds me of the classic chase scene from the movie Midnight Express, which is also a storyline taking place in Turkey (Composed by the Academy Award-winning Italian composer Giorgio Moroder).
While we?re still on the topic of Midnight Express, there?s an arabesque electronica version of Moroder?s Chase performed live at the Bern Jazz Festival 2003 in Switzerland by Jean-Pierre Smadja and Mehdi Haddab on Electric & Acoustic Oud. Great and fast-thumping Oud work.

So my imagination connected everything and it?s a bit mixed up now.
I?m about to play music about a haunted piece of land in Turkey; the Presto movement reminds me of a movie about a story in Turkey; and just a week ago the ANZAC celebration took place in Martin Place which is essentially about the Allied expedition that landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1929 with the objective to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire. Whoa!
And now when I think about it, perhaps it wasn?t the right choice for the place. The connections make you think a little if you want to entertain yourself with historical anecdotes.

As we were almost ready to begin, we had a sound check and tested if everything was okay. For some reason, there was a lot of feedback signal when the volume was turned up to acceptable levels. Maybe the microphone used to amplify my guitar was a little close to the speaker in the back.
The Plaza is a hustling and bustling place, a lot of people are around and cars and buses in the adjoining streets. I discovered that outdoor performance isn?t that easy to produce. And especially for a classical guitar, you need the right gear for amplification.
So we had no choice but to settle on the medium level volume, which only allowed the audience in close proximity to hear; even still they had to strain to hear the soft passages (Next time I?ll be better prepared.)

Mr. Mew introduced the event and gave a brief overview of the players and the purpose of this mini-concert, and then Jessica Hitchcock introduced me.
I talked a little about Koyunbaba and Carlo Domeniconi, about the legend the piece was based on and proceeded to arpeggiate the first haunting bar of Moderato.
I tried to bring out the sense of delicate flavours, Turkish, Western and Oriental Chinese. But the surrounding noise from the city life kept ringing in my ears, but I stayed focused on the music as difficult as it was not to be distracted. There were even a couple of loud sirens from the front and back streets, which flooded my hearing.
When I had finished with the last humming note that fades away, I looked up and smiled. This was my first big outdoor performance. The audience applauded while I bowed and walked off the stage while Mr. Mew beamed with approval.
Luckily the following performances didn?t suffer from the sound issue; the instruments are naturally loud even without amplification.

So next was The Epicology Trio.
The band plays a genre of music called Light Experimental Jazz. Rees Hellmers is on Trombone and Electric Bass; Morgan Merrell Percussion and Shaun Rammers on Saxophone.
The trio formed in 2007 and recently they have performed at the multi-arts venue Bar Me in Potts Point, simultaneously releasing their new CD ?Track Nine?.
They also performed at various weddings and school formals. They are all Year 12 students at the Sydney Conservatorium High School. Rees Hellmers is majoring in Trombone and Electric Bass; Morgan Merrell is studying Composition and Percussion; and Shaun Rammers is studying Saxophone under James Nightingale. All three performers have their own unique style that has been combined together to create a sound, which has been described as flavourful and exciting.

The third act was a promising vocalist, Sam Fischer. Sam is new at the Conservatorium High School. A Year 11 student who formerly attended Sydney Grammar School. He?s currently studying vocal with Barry Ryan.
Sam was recently called to audition for the 2008 School Spectacular. Congratulations.

Then Jessica Hitchcock took the stage with her incredible voice. Jessica had extensive experience in performance and starred at last year's School Spectacular. Now she was called back to audition for the 2008 School Spectacular.
Jessica is a Singer, Bassoon Player and a Pianist and currently in Year 12 at the Conservatorium High School studying with Joy Yates. She is the Brahms House Captain.

Vitamin Jazz performed the closing act.
It was highly received and stopped many bystanders, especially their performance of ?Sweet Home Chicago? (Written by Robert Johnson and popularised by The Blues Brothers.)
Then they followed it with Chameleon (Herbie Hancock), Blue Bossa (Kenny Dorham) and they wrapped up their act with Blue Moon (Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart.)
Vitamin Jazz features Dominic Jones-Diaz on Vocals and Trumpet; Nicholas Campbell on Lead guitar and Sax (Both in Year 12); Emma Stephenson on Keyboards; Maddie Shearer on Bass Guitar (Both in Year 11); and Alex Hirlian on percussion (Year 8).
Vitamin Jazz has recently formed and will be recording shortly. They are all fine musicians individually and make a great sound playing Jazz standards and Funk / Hip Hop numbers.

It was a wonderful day.
Thanks Mr. Mew for investing your time and for allowing us the freedom to participate and share our music.
 
 
 
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