The baby boomers were out in force for this sold-out concert in the Canberra Theatre; part of a nation-wide tour with which Kate Ceberano is celebrating her 40-year recording career by performing symphonic arrangements of her most iconic songs with the symphony orchestras of each of the capital cities.
Last night it was the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s turn to join Ceberano on stage, and what a night it proved to be.
Few Australian performing artists could match the career of Kate Ceberano who has distinguished herself across just about every aspect of entertainment. However, as a singer/songwriter/recording artist, she is most revered, having recorded no fewer than 30 albums over that 40 years, among them 11 platinum albums, 10 top-selling singles.
The most recent, My Life is a Symphony, featuring her most iconic songs and personal favourites, reimagined with lush symphonic arrangements by Roscoe James Irwin, provided the repertoire for this concert.
To the opening bars of one of her most iconic songs, Pash, and amid welcoming applause from the capacity audience, Ceberano took the stage wearing a glittering black gown and flashing that familiar warm, broad smile.
For this concert the Canberra Symphony Orchestra was augmented by Ceberano’s key musical collaborators in Paul Cecchinelli on the Steinway grand, Kathleen Halloran (guitar), Jonathon Zion (electric Bass), Gordon Rytmeister (drums and Piano) and backing vocalists Jessica Fairlie and Alison Ainsworth, all conducted by Vanessa Scammell.
But despite the presence of a stage-full of musicians Ceberano quickly established that this concert was not going to be a starchy affair.
After confiding her pleasure in revisiting these favourite songs and the excitement she felt in being able to share these new arrangements with her Canberra audience, she launched into a sublime performance of Sweet Inspiration.
As the concert progressed, she explained that she had written Courage as a wedding gift to her mother and step-father, reducing herself to tears by the memory of performing it at their wedding.
Explanations of how she was inspired to write Earth and Sky as a gift to fellow-performer Sara Storer, how Time To Think resulted from a relationship breakdown, and the inspiration behind Louis’ Song were among many shared during the performance.
Ceberano was obviously in her happy place on stage. Fronting a packed audience, offering relaxed and chatty backstories to each of her songs, frequently reducing her audience, and her on-stage musicians, to stitches with her spontaneous, cheeky asides. For as well as being a superb singer/songwriter, Ceberano is also a gifted raconteur.
Throughout the concert, responding to Irwin’s inventive new arrangements of such Ceberano classics as Sunburn, Brave, Sympathy and particularly Cherry Blossom Lipstick, superbly rendered by the musicians themselves responding to the mood of the moment and Scammell’s inspirational conducting, Ceberano pleasured her audience with her well-honed artistry mining every lyric for fresh nuance inspired by the gorgeous accompaniments.
In return, the blissed-out audience offered an enthusiastic standing ovation, and even after a generous encore, seemed reluctant to leave the theatre, seemingly unwilling to break the spell of this memorable concert.
Kate Ceberano – My Life is a Symphony
Canberra Theatre – Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Friday 15 September 2023
My Life is a Symphony will also be presented at the Newcastle Civic Centre (22 September), Melbourne Town Hall (28 September – sold out), Concert Hall – QPAC, Brisbane (2 December) and Perth Concert Hall (9 December). For more information, visit: www.kateceberano.com for details.
Image: Kate Ceberano presents My Life is a Symphony (supplied)
Review: Bill Stephens OAM