Many of the great classical composers have withstood the test of time, not only due to their musical genius but because their works speak to the human soul. Dr Joseph Nolan, Artistic Director of St George's Concert Series (SGCS), is tuned in to both aspects of the works he meticulously prepares and leads in Perth Concert Hall.
An enormously successful performance of Handel's Solomon in 2017 demonstrated the talent and professionalism being poured into the St George's Concert Series, which was established by Joseph Nolan in 2008. This scale of performance is made possible by the generosity of the St George's Cathedral Arts Foundation and underwriters Julian and Alexandra Burt.
In this year's series, Joseph will conduct two magnificent celebrations of Bach featuring WA's most extraordinary young musicians in the form of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St George and St George's Cathedral Consort. Soloists starring in both concerts are WA's beloved Sara Macliver, Fiona Campbell, Paul McMahon and Andrew Foote.
The Conductor's Challenge
Joseph ensures the music resonates with the audience as much today as it would have done when it was first written. Editing huge classical works is an art in itself, requiring a sensitive ear and creative flair to retain the intention, flow and beauty of the piece in a way that touches the audience, while keeping the performance to a suitable length.
As Master of Music at Perth Cathedral, Joseph is keenly aware of the great composers of sacred classical music, and regards Bach as a hero among heroes. He describes St Matthew Passion as "monumental, yet deeply affecting, powerful yet intimate", and his mission is to communicate these qualities to a modern audience. The other major concert of the season likely to attract critical acclaim is Bach's Christmas Oratorio on 13 December.
"My primary responsibility is to honour the composer's intentions in bringing the music to a modern audience. At the same time, a conductor is expected to have something new to say, and Bach makes this challenge a joy. It's no accident that his music is performed and recorded often by the same performers several times." - Joseph Nolan
Passion Matched with Perfection
The previous St George's Concert Series performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion was in 2014. A glowing review in The West Australian described it as 'passion matched with perfection' - an apt description of Joseph's approach to each of his roles, at the Cathedral, as a world-renowned multi-award winning Concert Organist, and in his work as Artistic Director of SGCS. This season, the St Matthew Passion will be presented in partnership with WASO on 16 April.
This editorial skill combined with a rare musicality is what makes each of the concerts Joseph presents at Perth Concert Hall unique - not to mention fascinating to classical music buffs and critics.
Both concerts feature the St George's Cathedral Consort. Now much sought after for choral concerts with a collection of CDs to its name, The Consort was established by Joseph, who believes in nurturing young talent. He chooses the 24 singers for their potential and natural gifts, which he then blends into a sound which the West Australian recently described as “having the evanescence of snow”. Joseph's rapport with these young musicians, the instrumentalists of WASO and the exquisite soloists creates its own energy, enriching these huge performances even further.
The series complements its major choral concerts in Perth Concert Hall with special guest performances under the soaring arches of St George's Cathedral, a more intimate space for moments of joy, peace and transcendence. In 2019, well known Concert Pianist Mark Coughlan will officially launch the Fazioli piano gifted to the Cathedral last year, and young Concert Organist Ben Sheen will travel from New York to present the Sir Francis Burt Memorial Concert.
Go to the new St George's Concert Series website for details of the 2019 St George's Concert Series: https://concert-series.perthcathedral.org/