Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

19 November 2019

I’ve been a member of Northampton Symphony Orchestra for 19 years but last Saturday was the first time I’ve played with the orchestra outside Northamptonshire as we performed a concert in Clifton Cathedral in Bristol. It was really enjoyable being ‘on tour’ with the orchestra (if only for one night!) and getting the chance to play in a truly unique venue. Clifton Cathedral is a modern, hexagonal Cathedral – winner of the 1974 Concrete Society Award – and an amazing space in which to perform. It was also great to have a second opportunity to play some of the pieces from our October concert in Northampton. We usually rehearse a work for weeks but only get one chance to perform it. Revisiting Tchaikovsky’s ‘Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet' I think we gave a more exciting performance second time around. And it was fascinating to play the ‘Piano Concerto No 2’ by Rachmaninov with a different soloist, so soon after our performance in Northampton with Rhythmie Wong. In Bristol we were joined by the amazing Latvian pianist Arta Arnicane – a favourite of the orchestra following our previous performances with her of the 'Rhapsody in Blue' and the 'I Got Rhythm' Variations for piano and orchestra by Gershwin (reviewed here in June 2014) and the ‘Piano Concerto No 3’ by Bela Bartok (reviewed here in May 2017). Arta’s performance of the Rachmaninov Second Concerto was thrilling and incredibly romantic (and featured an outstanding clarinet solo by Christine Kelk in the second movement). Arta also joined us to play the ‘Piano Concerto No 1’ by William Alwyn (which the orchestra had played in a concert I missed in March 2018). NSO conductor John Gibbons is a champion of the Northampton-born 20th century composer and it’s a lovely concerto with some achingly beautiful moments. Our programme also featured the ‘Overture: Men of Sherwood Forest’ by Doreen Carwithen, which we will get another chance to perform as part of the NSO Christmas Cracker ‘Heroes and Villains’ concert at Spinney Theatre in Northampton on 8 December. It was great fun playing at Clifton Cathedral and I think it was one of our best recent performances.

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