Saturday, September 12, 2015

Queensland's First Ever Ophicleide Recital

 Queensland's first ever Ophicleide Recital is happening in the concert hall at Robert Channon Wines at Stanthorpe in Queensland’s Granite Belt on Sunday October 4th.
The concert features Nick Byrne, Australia’s leading player of the ophicleide and David Miller one of the country’s finest pianists. What is an ophicleide? Why is the Battle of Waterloo important? and why is this Queensland’s first recital?
The Ophicleide is a 19th century brass instrument that looks a bit like a brass bassoon.
But for the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it might never have been invented.
After the battle, the victorious troops marched to Paris, led by military bands. The Grand Duke Constantine of Russia is said to have been delighted by a particular bandsman from an English regiment, playing a keyed bugle. Constantine had a copy made (of the instrument not the bandsman) by instrument maker, Halary, who in 1817 went on to develop a family of three new keyed brass instruments. He called his soprano instrument a "clavitube", the alto a "quinti-clave" and the bass instrument an “ophicleide".
“Ophicleide” was a made up name from the Greek words meaning ‘serpent’ and ‘keys’. The serpent was the excitingly named but hapless wooden tubed instrument (coiled into a snake-like shape) that the ophicleide replaced in bands and orchestras. Unlike the serpent though, which had been in use for more than 250 years, the heyday of the Ophicleide was to be short. The newly invented tuba (with valves instead of keys) swept in as the instrument of choice from the 1870’s.
How do we know that this is Queensland’s first recital? Well, we don’t really, but according to a paper delivered by CG Austin in 1961 on the subject of Early Musical Performances in Queensland, the first professional orchestra to play in Brisbane was in 1872 – already towards the end of the ophicleide’s orchestral reign.
In recent times, Nick Byrne (also a Sydney Symphony Orchestra trombonist) played the ophicleide in Brisbane in a performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra but he says that as far as he also is aware “this will be the first time an Ophicleide has performed in any solo capacity in Qld!”
What does it sound like? According to the Musical Instruments Museum “This instrument is particularly agile and endowed with a beautiful sound quality. But like all instruments, it requires a good ear to play it correctly.”
Why should you come to the concert? Two of Australia’s finest musicians are performing and, it may be another 150 years before you get your next chance to hear this noble old instrument being played.
Robert Channon said,  ”I have a small collection of old instruments including a serpent and an ophicleide. It will be a joy to hear the ophicleide being played properly at last. I always feel that I would be able to make a better fist of playing it if I had been born with three hands.”
The concert is in the Swigmore Hall at Robert Channon Wines on Sunday 4 October at 2.00. Tickets are $25 including a glass of wine at the interval, and they can be booked through the winery on 07 4683 3260.
Robert Channon Wines are at 32 Bradley Lane, Stanthorpe in Queensland’s Granite Belt where they are particularly known for their trophy and gold medal winning Verdelhos.

For further information contact Robert Channon on 07 4683 3260