Spring 2019 Concert Review

by rob
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Published on: April 4, 2019

Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra

Concert at St Peter’s Church, Newnham, Saturday 30th March 2019

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra were on top form on Saturday, with a new musical director who is bringing the best out of the players, a varied and challenging programme, and a local clarinet soloist who gave an outstanding performance in what was the highlight of a great evening, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major.

The first item was Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, an expressive and positively unmournful tribute in four parts to French victims of the First World War. The piece is underlaid with traditional folk dance music, and was a fitting introduction to the well-loved Mozart Clarinet Concerto, which may be more familiar to Forest Brass Band musicians as the basis of the popular brass piece ‘Stay with me till morning’. The Orchestra always secures a brilliant soloist for its concerts, and this time it was Christopher Gibbons of Yorkley Wood, who is a fine all-round musician, as teacher and conductor, and a freelance performer who has played at concerts throughout the UK and Europe.

He had only one opportunity to rehearse with the Orchestra before the concert, but you wouldn’t have known as there was a great rapport between orchestra, conductor and soloist, and this performance was something very special.

After the interval Delius’s famous Cuckoo emerged in a spring evening to entertain the audience, and the final piece was another orchestral delight, Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, a fiendishly difficult work which was carried off with verve and confidence by a fine local orchestra.

I have been following the RFODO for 25 years now, from the uncertain days of the nineties to now when they have become a significant regional orchestra. The journey has been driven by a series of passionate and sympathetic musical directors, and the current incumbent, Stefano Boccacci, is taking the orchestra to an even higher level. I think that this was the Orchestra’s best ever concert.

Dave Kent

Spring 2019 Concert – Press Release

by rob
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Published on: April 4, 2019

PRESS RELEASE Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra Spring Concert March 30 2019

25th Anniversary Concert Success

by rob
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Published on: June 22, 2018

Press Release: Summer 2015 Concert

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Published on: September 16, 2015

Summer Concert at Newland Church, Saturday 4th July 2015

It could have been disaster for the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra at its summer concert at Newland church. The opening piece was Smetana’s Vltava, an atmospheric work which relies heavily on percussion for the more dramatic parts. Unfortunately there was no percussionist available, but to save the night the Reverend Sarah Bick, who is the vicar in charge of five other parish churches as well as Newland, bravely stepped in to play cymbals and triangle quite faultlessly. Sarah is an experienced all round musician, as singer, pianist, cellist and percussionist, just the sort of person you need on hand when cymbals need clashing and triangles need striking.

Vltava was an ambitious choice by musical director Jack Lovell, but the Orchestra carried it off quite superbly. The piece is a symphonic poem to the river of the same name, and was a romantic anthem without words to Czech nationalism. Jack delicately steered the orchestra through the mountain springs, forests, meadows, riverside villages and rocks of Bohemia, as depicted by the music.

The Orchestra’s close partnership with the Birmingham Conservatoire has provided a series of fine soloists for its concerts, and following in this tradition, Philippa (correct) Green was the star performer in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Philippa, graduate of the Conservatoire, enjoys a busy and varied career that takes in opera, musicals, pop, and chamber music as well as virtuoso violin performances such as the Mendelssohn masterpiece. She had only one opportunity to rehearse with the Orchestra before the concert, but it was a dazzling performance of fiendishly difficult piece, full of wit and confidence, well backed up by the Orchestra, with subtle unspoken communication between conductor and soloist to keep things moving smoothly.

The programme finished with another Czech symphony, Dvorak’s New World (No 9), composed in a late 19th century exile in America, in which the composer introduces some echoes of contemporary American popular music to this Bohemian rhapsody. The thrilling last movement of this great work was a fine ending to another well attended, well performed and well balanced musical evening at Newland.

The Orchestra’s next concert is on 5th December at Coleford Baptist Church and the programme includes The Nutcracker, by Tchaikovsky, and other festive favourites.

Dave Kent

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