Arts Review

​​​​​​​Music on Sundays presents Hymn to Mother Earth

Music on Sundays presents Hymn to Mother Earth with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Concert Hall, QPAC

Sunday 2nd April, 2023


Principal Guest Conductor Johannes Fritzsch

Soloist Hannah Shin

Host Guy Noble


Smetana The Moldau from Má vlast

Sculthorpe Uluru

Britten Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op.33a, mvt 4

Glazunov Autumn, Op.67B, from The Seasons

Boulanger Of a Spring Morning (D'un matin de printemps)

Respighi Music from The Birds

Boulanger, L Of a Spring Morning

Mozart Piano Concerto No.27 K.595, mvt 3

R. Strauss Moonlight Music from Capriccio

J. Strauss Jr. Thunder and Lightning Polka, Op.324 


Dr Gemma Regan


Noble and the QSO were unflappable, delivering a joyous ode to Mother Nature 

With Autumn encroaching, the QSO celebrated the cooler nights with the concert Hymn to Mother Earth as part of the Music on Sundays series. Maestro Principal Guest Conductor Johannes Fritzsch, who served as the QSO’s Chief Conductor from 2008-2014, had selected classical pieces that encapsulate mother nature and that he also enjoyed conducting. 

Fritsch is now the Principal Guest Conductor of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Whilst chatting with the irrepressible host Guy Noble, Noble suggested he might be running an illegitimate Tasmanian gin distillery on the side, and so was ‘hiding out' with the QSO in Queensland!

The concert opened with Smetana’s Moldau, a beautiful musical travelogue of a gentle stream flowing from the Elba, with rivulets of flutes and clarinets and stirring strings until an abrupt end at the sea with a B and E major chord. Terrence Malick’s dark esoteric award-winning film The Tree of Life famously used the movement because of its emotive charm.

Australian iconic composer Peter Sculthorpe’s Uluru, aurally described a bouncing truck journey through the red desert in the Australian outback between Uluru and Kata Tjuta. The five percussionists were on form, delivering the rumbling rhythm of the bouncy track spiced with a wild west flavour.

The Storm is perhaps Benjamin Britten’s most popular excerpt from his tragic opera Peter Grimes, a dark musical psychological analysis of a troubled fisherman on the coast of Suffolk. The QSO thrust the audience into a torrent of waves with the crash of cymbals and frenetic strings. You could almost feel the lash of the oceanic maelstrom amongst a brooding underlying bass rumble from the brass. The tumultuous whirling strings crescendoed to silence, leaving the reverberations echoing around the concert hall.

Another highlight of the show was young Hannah Shin’s skilful rendition of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.27. Shin has only recently graduated in Music from the Melbourne Conservatorium, winning the prestigious Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition in 2022 with Prokofiev’s technically difficult Piano Concerto No.3. Shin shone with passion during the Allegro of Mozart’s final concerto, written only months before his early demise at only 45 years old, and she was rewarded with tumultuous applause.

A giant pink flamingo introduced two excerpts from Respighi’s Music from The Birds. Noble was unflappable as he presented the movements standing on one leg as a 6 foot giant flamingo. Fortunately, he had the long legs to carry it off and the balance to not tumble into a nervous front row!

Respighi's The Nightingale is based on a work from an unknown 17th century English composer and was a delight to hear. The cellos rumble whilst the flutes flutter and trill in the fertile forest. The French horns, clarinets and oboe seemed to guide the flautist (Alison Mitchell) as she soared over the canopy whilst the twinkling celeste mimicked the twilight.

A frivolous clarinet and flute introduced the cantankerous cuckoo in Respighi’s 5th movement, The Cuckoo. The persistent flute cuckooed and the celeste returned the call amongst a forest of strings.

Strauss’ iconic Thunder and Lightning Polka whirled around the concert hall to bring the QSO’s ode to nature crashing to a triumphant conclusion. 

The next Music on Sundays concert will have ballet and opera fans rejoicing with Love and Passion on the 21st May, so make sure to book now.

You can hear and relive this concert on ABC Classic 14 April at 1pm AEST.


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