13 December 2023

Going out with a bang: Christmas with the Con promises an epic night of fireworks-infused music

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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orchestra playing at concert

The memorable Christmas with the Con 2022 was held at the Victory Memorial Gardens. Photos: Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music (RCM) is inviting everyone to celebrate the festive season with one of the biggest performances in the Riverina and fireworks with a twist.

RCM’s annual Christmas with the Con is this Saturday (16 December) at Wagga’s new Riverside Precinct stage from 7 pm to 9 pm.

After the success of the 2022 Christmas with Con, the RCM team decided to host another night of carolling for the Wagga community.

“We’re excited this year we’re going to be at Riverside stage and using the huge space,” RCM CEO Hamish Tait said. “We have a great lighting and sound team.

“We are using the same model [as 2022] and using a mix of all our ensembles, from our tiny string players to our advanced brass, strings, percussion, and wind students.

“Our choirs have all combined, and we’ve got some featured soloists. We get to see the whole lot and it’s an exciting way for us to end the year.”

Mr Tait said RCM enjoyed putting local musicians front and centre and doing something different from the standard Christmas carol concert.

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RCM conductor and head of woodwind and brass Tamara Spencer said the concert would feature a broad range of music.

“We’ve got our featured artists, vocal soloists, little string players to our scholarship-winning guitarists,” Ms Spencer said.

“The Big Band will kick things off. We’ve got some rock and concert bands, and there will be some sing-along.

“The Wagga Wonderland might make a surprise appearance in the program, and we will finish with the 1812 Overture [by Tchaikovsky].

Tchaikovsky was commissioned to create a piece of music to celebrate Russia’s victory over the French invasion of 1812. At the end of the music, Tchaikovsky wrote into the score for real cannons to be fired. The music over the years has become synonymous with celebrations.

big band playing at concert

The Simmons Street Big Band is all keyed up for the highly anticipated concert.

RCM’s performance of the Overture will feature fireworks as the cannons.

Ms Spencer said the 1812 Overture was an ambitious undertaking for a student orchestra.

“We had a rehearsal, and it’s going to go off. We’ve got the 1812 Overture, fireworks, cannons, bells, and cacophony sounds that will be quite an epic finish to a huge year of music,” she said.

RCM is also set to work with St John’s Anglican Church, which will be playing the carillon at the same time. People will hear the orchestra, fireworks and the city bells ringing across everything.

Mr Tait said the team at RCM wanted to “end the year with a bang”.

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“We want to provide an opportunity for our groups, from the Simmons Street Big Band to our little string players, who just want and love being part of a project like this [Christmas concert],” he said.

“It’s an incredible testament to the work the conservatorium does, and this project involves every element of the conservatorium.

“This conservatorium project says Wagga is an incredible place to live, learn, work and engage in music.”

Christmas with the Con is this Saturday (16 December) from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Riverside Precinct. BYO picnic blankets, chairs, food and drinks. Limited food vendors will be on site.

RCM thanked its sponsors, Smallmon Brothers Waste & Recycling, Transgrid, Riverina Water, Charles Sturt University, AKW Chartered Accountants & Wealth Advisers, ARTC Inland Rail, Morgan Street Dental Centre, AVIS, and Damasa Pty Ltd.

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