Those graceful white sails are instantly recognisable. They soar away from the city and out towards the harbour, floating above the home of quality Australian music and performance.
There was a happy buzz around Circular Quay as we strolled towards the Sydney Opera House. The young and groovy were just starting to come out to play and international visitors were surging to see the iconic scenery lit up at night.
Us? We were about to experience some world-class jazz.
Not being a Sydney resident, I haven’t been to the Opera House very often, so it always feels extra special to see it perched right on the edge of the water. We joined the slightly older set walking with purpose towards the cavernous space below the sails to have our tickets scanned and our bags checked. It was the first time I have had to have a bag check before a performance, but I guess it is a sign of the times we live in.
Up the many long, low steps towards the Concert Hall, the ceiling seemed to float away from me to match the internal arc of the sails. Despite the graceful external view of the Sydney Opera House, inside it is all hard lines and industrial concrete surfaces. It is quite a contrast, but beautiful and no doubt, functional.
The crowd jostled expectantly and celebrated their good fortune with a glass of champagne. Eventually the group grew large enough to overflow out the doors to a balcony area overlooking the Opera House forecourt and the busy waterway leading to Circular Quay. We toasted the sparkling lights of Sydney and the last groups of climbers making the most of the twilight views on the Harbour Bridge.
Eventually the electronic bell ‘beeped’ and, like Pavlov’s dog, we responded by surging towards our designated door and seat in the Concert Hall.
I am no great muso (although I can play the CD with incredible skill), but I love quality music and there are few better musos than world-famous jazz trumpeter, James Morrison. The bonus was that at this concert, one of only two performances, his ‘backing band’ was the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. What a combination!
Even if jazz is not your ‘thing’, or classical music for that matter, you have to acknowledge and appreciate the skill, talent and dedication of these musicians. They would have committed thousands of hours, and a good part of their lives, to both practice and performance to achieve such a level of excellence.
I was excited as I tried to get comfortable and wait patiently. We had great seats, only a few rows from the front and I couldn’t wait for all those empty seats on the stage just in front of me, to be filled.
At this concert Morrison focussed on the stars of the Great American Songbook, including:
- George & Ira Gershwin: A Foggy Day in London Town, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Summertime (with Dubose Heyward).
- Cole Porter: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.
- Duke Ellington: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (with Bob Russell), It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
- Plus Johnny Mandel, Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, Billy Strayhorn, Spencer Williams
James Morrison brought a great energy and personality to the music. You could tell he genuinely loved this period of music and was having fun with the rest of the quartet and the magnificent orchestra.
I couldn’t help but tap my foot and bob my head along to the beat and I noticed many of the musicians in the orchestra doing the same. Perhaps they enjoy the change of tempo? Or simply have a love of all musical styles?
The jazz quartet were super-tight and had obviously spent hours practicing together, but the symphony orchestra took the music to a whole new level. I doubt I possess the correct musical terms to describe it, but the songs seemed to swell and soar with the support of the 58-person orchestra. It was such a large sound, it seemed to envelope me and carry me away. That probably sounds a tad dramatic, but the sound was just so full and simply BIG it stunned the senses.
It was a pinch-myself moment and I was in awe of these world-class performers.
All too soon they had played their last encores to tumultuous applause and we reluctantly left out seats to go home.
Out on the streets again, the crowds around the Quay had increased even more as we headed back towards the city and a celebratory gelato.
How lucky are we to experience such beautiful music in an equally beautiful building?
When have you had a pinch-yourself moment?
What: The Opera House was designed by Danish man Jǿrn Utzon and opened its doors in 1973.
Where: It is located on Bennelong Point, adjacent to Circular Quay, Sydney.
When: The Opera House is open every day. It has a number of different performance spaces that promote everything from comedy to conversation. You can also do guided tours of Opera House. They last for an hour and cost $42pp.
Why: Enjoy quality music, comedy, thought-provoking conversation and dance. Or simply visit to admire the renowned architecture.
How: You name it – drive yourself or catch a train, taxi, or bus to Circular Quay. Parking is available right next to the Opera House forecourt at 2 Macquarie Street.
Who: Myself, the Brave Man and quite a few other Lucky Ducks.
Related Posts: For something nice to do while staying in the city, read my post about the walk you can do around the edge of Sydney Harbour and through the Botanic Gardens.
Related Blogs: To see what other people think about the Sydney Opera House, check out this blog which describes the Opera House inside, outside, day and night.
Read About It: For a captivating read set in the early days of the Opera House, check out the new novel by Kristina Olsson called Shell. Available from Book Depository.
#sydneyoperahouse, #jamesmorrison, #jazz