The final concert of the 2020 Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields festival, in St. Patrick's cathedral, was the crowning glory of what has been an outstanding ten days of music making.
The Art of Sound Orchestra, conducted with great discipline by Mario Dobernig, produced a performance matched only by the brilliance of the soloists in the two concertos which made up the programme.
In the Violin Concerto Op.26 of Max Bruch, Paolo Tagliamento displayed the most mature playing of his five appearances in this festival. His virtuosity and musicianship were perfectly balanced in his relationship with the orchestra through the drama and lyricism of this popular work.
Anthony Halliday took the concert one step further in his reading of Beethoven's fourth piano concerto. His understanding of the elegance and power of this style was clear, from the opening chords through to Beethoven's first movement cadenza and the exhilarating final movement. The standing ovation was thoroughly deserved.
The contrasts earlier in the weekend could not have been greater. Murphy's Pigs Celtic Band's concert in the Civic Hall was arousing affair full of fun and energy. The occasional ballad slowed the tempo only slightly.
In St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Lay clerks Choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, gave a spiritually uplifting performance of mostly Renaissance and Baroque sacred music.
Organist/director Thomas Wilson extracted a performance of perfect intonation and precise rhythm and phrasing in recreating the music's celestial purpose.
At Mary's Mount mezzo soprano Sally Anne Russell and guitarist Massimo Scattolin worked very well together in arrangements of the Seven Popular Spanish Songs of de Falla and arias of Rossini.
The skill and experience of both performers delivered an excellent result while Scattolin's guitar compositions highlighted his natural gift for melody.