Regional Tour Blog 5: Meeting Graeme



Blog 5

5: Meeting Graeme Connors

Another gorgeous sunny day in Mackay! A few QYO members were out and about in the early morning, enjoying the sunrise with a bit of exercise and fresh air. Horn player Anita Austin was spotted doing her morning warmup on one of the boardwalk pagodas, getting ready for a big day of playing.

Some of our diligent string members rose extra early to help facilitate a workshop with the Mackay Christian College Senior Strings, a small ensemble of beginner strings led by Mrs A. They worked to prepare two pieces for the evening concert, Schubert’s Serenade and a lively tune called Irish Faire.

We kicked off today’s rehearsal at Mackay Christian College, where we were soon joined by our special guest star for the evening concert, local singer Graeme Connors. Together we spent the morning playing through a selection of Connors’ hits, arranged for orchestra as an accompaniment to the singer and his guitar. It was an exciting collaboration for QYO as the music was so different from our other repertoire, and we were able to have some fun with the new styles. A particular highlight was the spontaneous formation of a vocal quartet by some of our orchestra members, as one of the songs called for an SATB quartet in the score. These multi-talented musicians rose to the challenge, learning the parts quickly and adding some beautiful layers of harmony to the texture.

During our rehearsal 7 News Mackay visited us which led to a lot of excitement amongst the orchestra. Watch the snippet here.

After a long but rewarding rehearsal, we were given some free time to relax before the evening concert. Many of us ventured out into Mackay to have lunch, shop, and discover the city, although a few stayed behind at the motel to nap!

We headed back to MCC in the afternoon for our soundcheck with Graeme, followed by a very well-received dinner of pizza and garlic bread, our sustenance for the energetic concert programme ahead. The theatre was buzzing with excitement as the audience began to file in, and soon we were getting ready to perform to a full house.

The concert opened with the combined QYO and MCC ensembles; the Senior Strings followed by the Wind Ensemble, with both groups performing exceptionally well. The audience particularly enjoyed Robert W. Smith’s The Great Steamboat Race, a programmatic work for wind ensemble depicting a race between two paddleboats along the Mississippi River. QYO then took to the stage to perform several arias with our soprano Nina Wildman before concluding the first half of the concert with an energetic rendition of Copland’s Hoe-Down (featuring an impromptu “yee-haw” from our esteemed conductor).

After a nail-biting raffle draw, Graeme Connors joined QYO on stage for the much-anticipated second half. Orchestra and audience alike enjoyed the singer’s stories as he explained the moments and inspirations behind each song. There was even a singalong in We’ve Done Us Proud, encouraged by our fantastic vocal quartet. We ended the concert to great applause from our appreciative Mackay audience, with the consensus that this concert was a tour highlight for QYO.