|Blowing our own trumpet since 1931|
|"A night at the musicals".||Pieces to include||Phantom of the Opera||West Side Story||Les Miserables||...and many more|
A Night At The Musicals, Harrogate Symphony Orchestra Gala Concert, Harrogate Grammar School.
The late 1920s architecture of Harrogate Grammar School's hall with its arched ceiling and panelled walls made an excellent setting for Harrogate Symphony Orchestra's last concert of its current season.
The warm acoustic and attractive décor makes it an ideal venue for the orchestra and audience alike.
Conductor Bryan Western had produced arrangements of well-known musicals which were full of interest and challenge for the orchestra and the almost capacity audience showed by their applause at the end of the concert how much they had enjoyed the evening.
The first three items on the programme gave the orchestra a chance to show off the wide variety of tonal colour and expression of which it is capable.
The balance between sections was very good and only occasionally did the brass, which was excellent throughout, dominate over the wind and strings.
With the music of Richard Rodgers featuring strongly in the programme, Bali-Hai from South Pacific gave a chance for flutes and horns to shine out in an atmospheric arrangement of this wonderful song and Climb Every Mountain produced some very sonorous playing from the strings.
Bryan Western's infectious enthusiasm had clearly been caught by the orchestra, and there was a great sense of enjoyment among its members throughout the evening.
The most demanding piece of the evening, for orchestra and audience alike, was Bernstein's own arrangement of his music from West Side Story and the orchestra rose to the challenge magnificently.
The way in which all sections of the orchestra tackled the changes in rhythm, style and tonality showed real evidence of careful preparation and concentration throughout.
One or two instances of dubious intonation here and there and the occasional untidy link passage between sections did nothing to detract from the performance of this most difficult work, much of which would have been a credit to a professional, let alone an amateur, orchestra.
In the section featuring the musical's justly famous Tonight, which followed a savage confrontation between the Jets and the Sharks, the combination of woodwind, vibraphone and solo violins produced a moving and palpable stillness in the hall.
Throughout the evening, the orchestra, ably led by Jo Richardson, played very confidently in a wide range of musical styles covering three-quarters of a century of musical theatre in works as diverse as Porgy and Bess and Grease.
A very happy audience left for home at the end of the concert humming their favourite tunes.
This was, altogether, a very satisfying evening for audience and players alike and demonstrated that the progressive rise in standard of playing established in recent years in Harrogate Symphony Orchestra is continuing apace.
The orchestra is already planning a demanding programme for the next two years.
Plans include Rachmaninov's second symphony, Beethoven's Choral Symphony and opera favourites in the Royal Hall next year, as well as a violin concerto with Marat Bisengaliev and Holst's Planet Suite.
The next concert in Harrogate will be on November 24 at Harrogate Grammar School.
- Rupert Kennedy, Harrogate Advertiser