Prove your humanity

Russian violin sensation, Ilya Gringolts, directs the Australian Chamber Orchestra in this incredibly superb display, featuring Paganini’s First Violin Concerto and Vivaldi’s Concerto. Grok went along to get a glimpse of the musician that has captured an abundance of hearts, and ears around the world.


I am one beer down, about to enter the Perth Concert Hall for the first time.

As I pick up the tickets I scale the room, my eyes landing on the buffet roast at the edge of the hall. Naturally, I begin looking for the bar and come across a room bustling to the brim with (obvious) orchestra veterans.

My foot crosses the threshold, instantly lowering the average age of the room, and time appears to stop. All eyes are on me; perhaps they think I’m lost.

I wander over to the bartender. As he pours my drink I ask about the ‘VIP internal drinks’ pass I have been given, because well, I know nothing.

“I’m new here” I explain. I am the proverbial shmuck.

As I retreat to the corner, I can’t help but notice the woman in the middle of the room. Adorned in pearls, she is propped up on a stool above the crowd. She is the epitome of an orchestra patron.

I gaze at our tickets. The event is sponsored by Maserati, perfect.

The bells begin to toll, it’s my queue.

As I ascend the staircase into the theatre, a sea of red velvet floods my view.

I find that my seat is currently occupied by an Oroton bag, it’s owner unfazed by my presence. As I vie for her attention, she barely looks up, unimpressed that her prized possession has lost its seat.

The stage side door opens, and one by one, musicians of the Australian Chamber Orchestra take the stage, stylishly draped in black.

My seat companion becomes concerned with my note taking, insisting I should put my screen down, as it distracts the musicians.

Considering they’re playing off iPads, I doubt they’ll mind, but I hold my tongue. She probably doesn’t get out much.

The lights dim, and the music begins. The orchestra is a beautiful harmony of strings.I am so entranced that it takes me ten minutes to realise one of the violinists is standing on a wooden box. Though short in stature, her talent is enough to fill the four walls around me.

The first act concludes, and Ilya walks briefly off stage. The crowd stands to applaud, their gratitude echoing throughout the theatre.

Gringolts returns, taking his place at centre stage. He is impeccable.

The next 35 minutes are pure bliss, with each instrument complementing the other perfectly.

Ilya takes off on his own, teasing out beautifully crafted notes with his bow, one movement at a time. The man can do no wrong.

His companions look at him in awe, violinist Maja Savnik glimpses behind her, smiling.

As if connected, members of the orchestra raise their bows in sync and re-join Ilya in the perfection that is Paganini. Each violin, viola, cello, and the double bass, come together in a crescendo that captures the attention of all—their performance so dynamic, you’re scared to blink for fear of missing out.

My eyes are glued to the stage, and my unreserved attention is with them until the act is over.

The interlude commences, half of which is spent trying to find the VIP area. The friendly bartender—my saviour—points me in the right direction.

As I walk towards the drinks table I am brushed aside by a woman in blue, I wonder if she too possesses an Oroton bag.

The 10-minute warning chimes as I sip my shiraz—dry, like my theatre friend’s sense of humour. As we are ushered to our seats by the bell, I resist the urge to down the rest of my wine.

The second half of the concert, in which the orchestra graces us with the music of Vivaldi and Bartók, flashes past in an instant. The beautifully flawless performance, crafted by the impossibly talented musicians before me is over, finishing as quickly as it began. I am in awe.

The night comes to a close, as it should, for nothing could possibly top the perfection we’d just witnessed. I may not have fit in perfectly with the crowd or made a new friend, but I fell in love with the craftsmanship of each musician that graced the stage.

One might be forgiven for thinking of Harry Potter, as I did when hearing the name Gringolts.

Although the Perth Concert Hall is far from the realms of the wizarding world, the performance of Ilya Gringolts’ and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, was nothing short of magic.