The WA Symphony Orchestra takes New World to Mandurah and Bunbury in March 2023
Jessica Gethin will bring a longing for homeland on tour with the WA Symphony Orchestra in Mandurah and Bunbury in March next year.
The Perth-based conductor, who revived WASO after the COVID lockdown in 2020, has traveled extensively and is closely linked to Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, the programme’s main work.
Written while the Czech-born Dvorak was away from his home in America, the slow movement Largo in particular elicits a sense of longing and nostalgia, balanced by fire and energy in the finale.
“It’s one of the universally popular symphonies, it’s sumptuous, thrilling, driving, it has tender moments, it has powerful moments, it has something everyone can relate to,” Gethin says.
Dvorak is paired with Johann Strauss Jr’s Die Fledermaus Overture and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture for a feast of romantic favourites.
“It’s a program that’s a joy to listen to and a joy to play too,” she says.
Gethin is at a pivotal point in her career, after 10 years as co-founder and director of the Perth Symphony Orchestra, now branching out into new opportunities, including Swan Lake with WA Ballet this month.
“I have a lot of travel, in the first six months of next year I’m doing WASO, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, ballet seasons for all next year and the classical repertoire,” she says.
“I do everything, so it’s really exciting to be part of all these different genres because they all feed off each other.
“Every time I step on the podium, something different is asked of me every time.”
A tour to Mandurah and Bunbury brings another dimension, with a sense of familiarity and belonging.
“It’s just part of the house,” Gethin says. “As I get older and travel so far for my job now, I realize that WA is truly my home and that includes the entire state.
“It’s very exciting for me, especially to do something like Dvorak that taps into that yearning for homeland.
“To be able to take the full orchestra on the road, to be part of the greatest and most beloved classical repertoire of all time, it’s just an amazing opportunity.”
Gethin does a lot of research before a concert, diving deep into the Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers story, told through music rather than words.
“Tchaikovsky was deeply inspired by Shakespeare,” she says. “When you look at the three parts of this opening, the first part is a feeling of doom, the second part is the turmoil between the Capulets and the Montagues, and the third part is an incredible love theme with the undercurrent of Romeo and Juliet’s anxiety.
“How can I interpret this? Is it nowadays, in relation to that, what is the relevance of that? Or what would it look like when it was written in 1870?
“How do we tell this story now, in Mandurah and Bunbury in 2023? It’s not just notes on a page, we really tell the story, and that’s something I’m really excited to do with WASO.
WASO performs at the Mandurah Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 3, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. and at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Center on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at 5 p.m.