Kangaroo Valley Arts Festival

The wamest autumnal weather in decades was the brilliant accompaniment to two concerts featuring the music of Gershwin on the weekend of May 24 and 25.

Simon Tedeschi and Mike Nock

Simon Tedeschi, visiting the valley for the first time, was a hit with the capacity audience. His introductions to the music he played helped the audience understand the rationale of the program, which was to create a musical world around Gershwin – composers whom he admired, composers who were influenced by him and composers who shared aspects of their compositonal style. So we heard music by Rachmaninov, Fats Waller, Dave Bruebeck, Debussy, Chopin and Prokofiev, to mention but a few. The Gershwin Preludes in the first half were beautifully played, the songs very affecting, and the grand finale, the Rhapsody in Blue, brought the house down and inspired a standing ovation from a delighted audience. The Rhapsody was almost trumped by a spontaneous rendition of I got Rhythm in which Simon invited Mike Nock, who was in the audience, to come and play with him. Considering it was the first time they had ever shared a piano stool it was a masterful piece of improvisation. And a lovely way to introduce Mike Nock to the audience in advance of the Sunday afternoon concert.

This was an afternoon of pure jazz, always interesting and surprising. Mike Nock has a way of taking one on an unexpected journey, even with such Gershwin favourites as Summertime and It Ain’t Neceessarily So. An all-Gershwin first half was followed by Strata, a Mike Nock compositon, Snowy Mountains Blues, a long rhapsodic piece, The Song has Ended and Mike finished his performance with a sitrring rendition of the South African national anthem, Nkosi sikelel’. His musical intelligence and daring was on display throughout.

This is the first jazz concert that Arts in the Valley has presented, and we hope to bring some more jazz to the valley in the future. The concerts were both made possible by the generous provision of the Steinway concert grand by Theme and Variations, and Ara Vartoukian who tuned it for both performances. Also essential to the success of the concerts was the backstage concert management by John Wright, which ensured a smooth event. Thanks to all those who assisted in many large and small tasks.

This was also the first presentation by our new committee headed by by Nick Minogue. It augurs well for the future.

Belinda Webster
Artistic Director
Arts in the Valley