Monday, December 14, 2015

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

14 December 2015

The Northampton Symphony Orchestra's annual Christmas Cracker Concert always feels like the start of the festive season. It's a lovely family-friendly Sunday afternoon celebration of Christmas music, which each year seems to feature the orchestra wearing ever more ridiculous attire. The prize this year must go to my fellow horn player Ian Frankland who played the entire second half of the concert dressed as a giant Christmas cracker! Sunday's concert was the first Christmas Cracker for our new regular conductor John Gibbons, who also took on the role of compère. Our theme was 'Christmas in the Toy Box' – a programme including Leon Jessel's 'Parade of the Tin Soldiers' and music by Randy Newman from the film 'Toy Story'. We also played Malcolm Arnold's 'Fantasy on Christmas Carols' and the 'Sleigh Rides' by Frederick Delius and Leroy Anderson (finishing with a pair of braying trumpets to surprise our regular audience). But the main attraction was 'Paddington Bear's First Concert' – one of the best works for orchestra and narrator – in which Herbert Chappell creates an extensive theme and variations from his signature tune for the old BBC TV 'Paddington'. Michael Bond's story is quintessential 'Paddington' and our performance on Sunday was brilliantly brought to life by former NSO conductor Graham Tear whose Paddington, Mrs Bird and Mr Gruber were spot on!

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