Michael Zaoui Premiere with the Aurora Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall
What a privileged evening this was.
Michael Zaoui, banker, is a governor of the South Bank. At the age of 14 he tried to join conducting classes at the Paris Music Institute and was instantly rejected. This rejection has lived with him ever since and was only cauterised with this concert, which was Michael’s premiere with the baton. He has worked hard every day over a year on his dream to conduct, and was helped in his efforts by the wonderful Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music. In his ‘dream come true’ moment he was incredibly lucky to not only be the first – even trial – concert at the re-opening of the new Queen Elizabeth Hall, which has been closed for 2.5 years, but also had the privilege of conducting the wonderful Aurora Orchestra, who will be the resident orchestra at the QEH.
The Aurora Orchestra still has a large chamber orchestra sound and comprised 33 artists, of which 20 were female and 13 male. They are made up of the best young orchestra players from all over the UK and they sounded magnificent in the plush wooden surround of the new QEH.
There were two items on the concert agenda. Firstly, Handel’s Act 3 Sinfonia ‘entrance of the Queen of Sheba’ from Solomon. This is best known as the soundtrack to the opening of the London Olympics, together with the Queen and James Bond duo! The second item was Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, which was composed in the latter part of his young life in his golden period of composition and was only one of two such compositions written in a minor key, in this case G.
Both pieces were wonderfully played, delivering a beautifully praised performance, bringing alive the musical conversation between the different instruments. The technique and sensibility remained sound. It was pacey, refined and a very deliberate performance of great quality. The orchestra knew every note, but then so did the Conductor, who drove the proceedings to a climatic finale, only matched by the encore of Karl Jenkins’ “Palladio”.
Hats off to Michael and his dream and to the audience for receiving the first brilliant sound of the new QEH.