Breakfast on Bondi

On 22 September I received a phone call from Gareth Lewis of Fourth Wall Events asking if we would be interested in providing the orchestra for the inaugural Breakfast on Bondi event as part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival on Sunday 23 October, playing an hour of music at sunrise to an audience of thousands. What an opportunity!

With positive reactions from the committee and our Guest Conductor for these concerts, Bernard Walz, I confirmed our interest and by 26 September we said yes please! Thanks to our very responsive committee, we decided to go ahead without knowing if we could persuade our players to rise and shine at an unearthly hour and be ready to play at sunrise. We promised an orchestra of at least 40 players, and thanks to our wonderful players were able to provide an orchestra of 55 including a concert harp, played by our faithful and reliable Helen Boyd.

Laura Jamieson took on responsibility for the massive job of Operations and Logistics. You may not know that Laura has extensive experience in events management including the Sydney Mardi Gras for many years and the Asian Games at Doha in 2006. I took on the tasks of assembling the orchestra, liaising with Fourth Wall Events and administration. Bernard worked on the musical aspects including sound and audio.

We received excellent logistical support from Fourth Wall Events, including provision of transport (coach and truck), audio, lighting, a marquee, and of course food and drink. It was a breakfast event after all. Gareth Lewis wrote:

In a very limited time frame Strathfield Symphony Orchestra have assembled a full orchestra of 55 players prepared to play outdoors at 6am and created a superb program of music that will be showcased to thousands of people. Their enthusiasm and professionalism have been fantastic.

There were of course many challenges to be overcome during a hectic three weeks. Three extra rehearsals were scheduled for a new repertoire of:

  • Grieg – Peer Gynt Suites 1 & 2 (Selections)
  • Strauss – Blue Danube
  • Dvorák – New World Symphony (2nd movement)
  • Pachelbel’s Canon
  • Bach Air on the G string
  • Beethoven Symphony No 5 (3rd and 4th movements) from this concert.

Rehearsals over, it was time to get the show on the road – literally. The truck was packed with timpani, music stands, risers and podium. We couldn’t access the site until 8pm Saturday and Laura and Bernard were required to do a layout and sound check at 10pm.

At 2.30am (or in some cases earlier) we struggled out of bed and assembled at Ashfield Railway Station for our coach which left at 4am. I was delighted to find that not one player was late for the bus. At 4.30am we were at Bondi and straight on to the stage for a layout check and warm up. At 6am, after didgeridoos brought the sun over the horizon, we took over with Morning from Peer Gynt.

The whole thing was magical. The audience was estimated by organisers at up to 5000, and they all enjoyed a breakfast like no other. A surfer came up to us afterwards and offered free surfing lessons!
Exhausted but happy we made our way home.