Monday, December 15, 2014

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

15 December 2014

During the Northampton Symphony Orchestra's 2014-15 season we are working with a different conductor for each of our concerts, before appointing a new regular conductor next summer. So far I am really enjoying experiencing a series of different conducting styles and I think the orchestra is playing better because of the concentration required to get used to someone new on the podium each time. For the traditional NSO Christmas Cracker Concert at Spinney Hill Theatre in Northampton on Sunday, the baton was wielded by Lee Dunleavy, who has been Musical Director of the Northampton Bach Choir since 2007. We were also joined by the Choirs of All Saints' Church, Northampton, (who Lee conducted until earlier this year) and their new conductor, Peter Foggitt. And we welcomed back, for an eighth time, the wonderful Graham Padden as our compere and narrator. This year the concert had an animals theme, featuring an arrangement of 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer', 'Disney's The Lion King Orchestral Suite' by Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer, and the 'Theme from Jurassic Park' by John Williams. The choirs introduced us to some great contemporary American carols, including a wonderfully over-the-top arrangement of 'O Come All Ye Faithful' by Dan Forrest (you can find a couple of recordings of this on YouTube ヨ well worth seeking out). The NSO Christmas Cracker Concert always features a narrated piece: this year it was 'The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant', originally written for piano by the French composer Francis Poulenc. While the story is decidedly odd (possibly losing something in translation) and fairly grim, Poulenc's music is fascinating. The tiny movements between each paragraph of narration are beautiful musical miniatures, somewhere between Debussy and the musical theatre works of Shostakovitch. As a serious orchestral work with narration for children 'The Story of Babar' bears comparison with Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf'. And Poulenc writes some gorgeous lines for the tuba ヨ at times 'Babar' might almost have been a tuba concerto ヨ exquisitely played on Sunday by the NSO's Nick Tollervey. Guest conductor Lee Dunleavy guided us through an excellent performance and it was noticeable that even our perennial Christmas Cracker Concert theme tune, Leroy Anderson's 'Sleigh Ride', seemed to sound crisper and fresher under his direction.

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At 10:56 am, Anonymous Frank said...

What a great job the horns did at the concert... Bravo!

At 10:56 am, Blogger Robin Simpson said...

Thanks Frank!


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