Friday, December 21, 2012

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

21 December 2012

With our regular conductor, Alexander Walker, away conducting ‘The Nutcracker’ in Norway, this year’s Northampton Symphony Orchestra Christmas Cracker Concert provided a first opportunity for guest conductor Stephen Ellery to join us for a concert. Steve often takes NSO rehearsals when Alex is away and is great fun to work with. This year the Christmas Cracker Concert had a pantomime and fairy tale theme and featured Humperdink’s wonderful ‘Hansel and Gretel Overture’, the ‘Mother Goose Suite’ by Ravel, the overture to Rossini’s opera ‘La Cenerentola’ (‘Cinderella’ – reviewed here in November 2010) and music from the Disney films ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (by Frank Churchill) and ‘Aladdin’ (by Alan Menkin and Tim Rice). Steve really seemed to enjoy himself and the audience loved his enthusiasm and eccentricities, especially when he ran in through the auditorium dressed in a full bear costume, and roaring at various audience members, to conduct the ‘Three Bears Phantasy’ by Eric Coates! The orchestra were also very taken with Steve’s habit, at the end of each piece, of calling on particular players to take an individual bow by miming the relevant instruments. There was also some lovely comic interplay between the conductor and our excellent compere, Graham Padden. And when Steve turned round to conduct the audience, in the Christmas carols and to get them whistling along to ‘Whistle While You Work’, he seemed to inspire them to enjoy themselves as much he was. I think we all left the concert with smiles on our faces.

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