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Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance – “Arriverdici Gianluigi Gelmetti – our Maestro and our friend”.

‘WE SHOULD ALL KNOW THE SCORE’Maestro Gianluigi Gelmetti’s farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

On the a September day in Sydney in 2008 when temperatures soared above 30 degrees creating an ‘Italian’ style warmth in the evening air, the City bade farewell to its Maestro -  Gianluigi Gelmetti.

The stage was set at the Opera House, literally, with its entire length bordered by the green, white and red flowers of Italy.  Similarly coloured balloons were corralled in a net and suspended high up in the Concert Hall.

There was a tangible electricity in the air before a note was even played.  A program of popular music had been chosen by Maestro Gelmetti  to cleverly and seamlessly flow. The audience was irresistibly carried along by a combination of his unique conducting style and the brilliance of the performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The last note of a superb rendition of Ravel’s Bolero signaled the launch of streamers from all sides of the stage with the balloons from above and a rapturous standing response from the audience.  Maestro Gelmetti returned to the stage for an encore, conducting the rhythmic clapping of the audience to the William Tell overture.  And then the Maestro, seemingly reluctantly, left the stage.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance - “Arriverdici Gianluigi Gelmetti - our Maestro and our friend”.  Image: MiSocietyGianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance - “Arriverdici Gianluigi Gelmetti - our Maestro and our friend”.

At the glittering after function in the Northern Terrace of the Opera House it was reflected that such magical nights can only happen with the many years of dedication and commitment of the management, staff, and the musicians of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  Nor should we forget the vital contribution of sponsors, such as Maserati, who co-sponsored the Farewell Concert and Principal Orchestra Partner, Emirates. 

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is recognized as one of the great orchestras of the world and the ability it now has to attract world renowned conductors to our shores does not happen accidentally.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance  Image: MiSociety Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance - Image: MiSociety

The great relationships with sponsors the Orchestra is achieving is certainly delivering creative results.  On this glittering occasion we also had the marvelous opportunity to  view stunning Jewellery supplied by Percy Marks, Australia’s oldest family run and owned jewelers.  The gorgeous handmade gems from Percy Marks’ ruby and diamond collection, were elegantly worn by the Orchestra’s Managing Director, Libby Christie, and Fiona Ziegler, Assistant Concertmaster.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance  Image: MiSocietyGianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance  Image: MiSociety

Post concert an obviously emotional Maestro spoke of some of the philosophies he had practiced during his tenure as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

One of Gianluigi most interesting ideas was that he wanted all the members of the orchestra ‘to know the score’ in a way more typically experienced by the much smaller and intimate groups involved in Chamber music.  He strove, he said, “to also encourage the musicians to play with ‘passion, heart, and mind” and that he “hoped he had promoted flexibility in their playing of the music composed in diverse countries around the world”.

The Maestro’s rapport with the orchestra members was obvious and warmly articulated by Geoff O’Reilly the President of the Musicians Association.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance   Image: MiSocietyArriverdici Gianluigi Gelmetti - our Maestro and our friend  Image: MiSociety

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance  Image: MiSocietyGianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

Interestingly, Maestro Gelmetti also referred to the listening public as ‘the boss’.  The ‘boss’, he said “of course, needs constant refreshing and replenishing with people who have not been regular concert goers and the younger generations”. 

What needs to be heralded is the excitement that such a concert, as we had just experienced, can bring to people – you could see it in the faces of the audience long after the concert had ended.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performanceGianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

What also should be communicated to the non concert going public is the great fun and vitality of the musicians involved, none more so than the gang playing in the Sydney Symphony – their enthusiasm is palatable.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

Perhaps we need to spend a little less time mulling over the minutiae and the analysis of the technical side of classical music concerts.  Maybe we should increase the focus on dispelling the ‘stuffy’ or ‘elite’ image that many may have of classical music and  encourage, particularly amongst the young, the playing and listening to of this wonderful art form.  There is work to be done here with the uninitiated to ‘give it a try’.

Commenting on his own contribution, the Maestro, said during his speech that he “had tried to do his best”.  The listening public of Australia who already appreciate great music surely ‘know the score’ – we know we have been privileged to have had Maestro Gelmetti in our midst in Sydney.

There is no better way to conclude such sentiments than to repeat the words of John Conte, the Chairman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, when he said – “Arriverdici Gianluigi Gelmetti – our Maestro and our friend”.

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSocietyGianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

Gianluigi Gelmetti farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House.  Image MiSociety

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