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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

Summer 2015 – Press Release

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Published on: July 2, 2015

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is promising to pluck at your heart strings on Saturday (July 4) – with Mendelssohn’s masterpiece Violin Concerto played by talented Pip Green, Smetana’s Vltava and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

Staged in the beautiful historic setting of the Cathedral of the Forest at Newland with conductor Jack Lovell at the helm, the concert starts at 7.30pm, tickets on the door are £8 (concessions £6). Children free.

Retiring collection for Forest Talk, the talking newspaper charity based in Cinderford.

Parking available at Rookery Farm, near Laundry Lane. Passengers can be dropped at the church because of the walk up the hill. (Gates locked at 10.30pm).

RDFO rehearse with Pip Green summer 2015
Pip Green joins RFDO for a pre-concert rehearsal

Press Release: Spring 2015 Concert Review

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Published on: April 13, 2015

Best attended concert in the orchestra’s 22-year history

The reputation of our local symphony orchestra is clearly increasing, as this was perhaps the best attended concert in the orchestra’s 22-year history.

St Peters Church, Newnham, was packed for an interesting selection of mainly Mozart, with some rather lovely Elgar melodies as an introduction. The two Elgar ‘Chansons’, de matin and de nuit, sympathetically conducted by Jack Lovell, made a flowing and lyrical start to the evening. Jack Lovell has now clearly stepped out of the great shadow of his illustrious predecessor, Thomas Payne, to stamp his own personality on the orchestra.

Jack LovellThomas was flamboyant, exuberant and expressive; Jack is more understated, precise, cerebral and fluid, a combination of attributes that works well with an orchestra which is always seeking to extend its repertoire and seek new challenges.

The first Mozart piece was a bassoon concerto with guest soloist Richard Tatton, another alumnus of the Birmingham Conservatoire, which has had a long and productive artistic connection with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra. A succession of fine soloists has
provided some great musical occasions over the years, and the orchestra provides support for
these distinguished guests.

The second Mozart piece, the finale, his 40th symphony, a thrilling and profound symphony,
was given full value by the musicians.

I’m already looking forward to the next concert, on July 4 at Newland Church, with Smetana
making his first appearance with the orchestra, another brilliant soloist performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, and Dvorak’s New World.

Dave Kent – the forester (16th April 2015).

New Conductor for Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra

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Published on: October 4, 2014
New conductor Jack Lovell with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra at rehearsal.
New conductor Jack Lovell with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra at rehearsal.

Promising young conductor Jack Lovell has started on a high note as he takes up the baton with the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra. He has just gained his Master’s Degree in conducting from Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and is already putting members through their paces with works such as Suite from Nais by Jean-Philippe Rameau, which he has edited himself. The 23-year-old, whose dream is to become a professional conductor, has chosen an ambitious programme with a French theme for the orchestra’s Christmas concert on December 6 at Coleford Baptist Church. He will be combining Rameau with Ravel’s popular Mother Goose Suite. And to finish the evening he will be conducting Bizet’s First Symphony for his debut in the Dean. Jack, who hails from Somerset, fell in love with music as a child, although he doesn’t come from an inherently musical family. He played piano and tenor horn from a young age and later added cello and French horn. He became hooked on conducting after being given the chance to take up the baton at Richard Huish College in Taunton, where he studied in the sixth form. Jack currently works at the Birmingham Conservatoire and is busy honing his skills, learning repertoire and developing his musicianship. He has taken over from another rising star Thomas Payne, who has conducted the Forest orchestra for the past four years. “I am really looking forward to working with and developing the orchestra,” said Jack. “It will certainly keep me on my toes and motivated.” If you are interested in joining the orchestra, which rehearses at Newnham St Peter’s Primary School every Thursday from 7.30-9.30pm, contact the chairman Liz Pritchard on liz@gl14.net or ring 01594 510604 or visit the website at www.rfdo.org.uk

Press Release: December 2013

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Published on: January 23, 2014

Review of Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra concert on Sat 30th Nov 2013

A large and appreciative audience enjoyed last Saturday’s concert by The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra at Coleford Baptist Church. This second concert of their 20th anniversary season saw a departure from their normal repertoire, as they performed the overtures and semi staged scenes from 3 Mozart operas – The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte and Don Giovanni. Joining them were 11 talented young singers from Birmingham Conservatoire. Although the orchestra are used to accompanying individual instrumentalists in the performances of concertos, accompanying singers is, as one member of the orchestra put it, “a very different experience, requiring extreme concentration.”

Ably led by Ros Taunton, the orchestra and singers were skilfully and enthusiastically directed by the orchestra’s regular conductor Thomas Payne. The overtures had an appropriately lively and spirited character and the ensemble was generally tight in the accompaniments, though it was sometimes too loud for voices which have not yet developed their full power. The young soloists singing and acting were impressive, conveying the humour and drama of the scenes. Members of the audience who obviously understood the original Italian lyrics were particularly appreciative.

There was a retiring collection for Great Oaks Hospice; the hospice’s founder spoke about its work during the interval.

The orchestra’s next concert is on 29th March 2014 at Newnham Church. The programme will be Smetana’s ‘Vltava,’ Brahms’s violin concerto with soloist Simon Smith and Dvorak’s 6th Symphony. For further details please visit www.rfdo.org.uk

By Rosemary Griffiths

Press Release: 19th February 2013

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Published on: February 21, 2013

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce details of its forthcoming spring concert on Saturday 16th March at Newnham Church. The orchestra will once again be under the musical direction of its energetic young conductor, Thomas Payne, who studied violin and conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire and will perform Sibelius’s Valse Triste and the Roccoco Variations for Cello and Orchestra during the first half.

The soloist is renowned young cellist, Robert Kurnatowski. As a member of the Bantock Quartet, Robert is currently a Junior Fellow at Birmingham Conservatoire. Initially training as a physicist, Robert was a Music Scholar at the University of Birmingham and graduated in 2010 with a first class honours degree in Physics. He continued his cello studies with Lionel Handy at Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating
in 2012 with distinction on the Master’s programme. During his studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, Robert won places on both the Birmingham Royal Ballet and C.B.S.O. training schemes, and was winner of the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Prize and Derek Young Memorial Award. He was also winner of the strings category of the Symphony Hall Prize, and finalist in the Conservatoire’s Strings Prize, the Delius Prize and the Ambache Prize. In 2012, Robert was invited to perform in the final of the prestigious Muriel Taylor Scholarship competition, and is looking to forward to performing in this year’s final at the end of March 2013. Robert is continuing to study with
Lionel Handy and Richard Lester.

Following the interval the second half will entirely devoted to a performance of Mendelssohn’s third symphony, ‘The Scottish’.

Thomas Payne currently holds the position of Musical Director at both the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra and The Ludlow Orchestra. He is also Principal Conductor of Asklepios Orchestra and Birmingham Conservatoire Student Symphony Orchestra. From 2009-2012 he was Associate Musical Director of Birmingham Concert Orchestra and Principal Conductor for the City of Derby Youth Orchestra.
Since graduating from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2011 he has conducted a number of ensembles including Milton Keynes City Orchestra, Dartington Festival Orchestra, CBSO Youth Orchestra, Bedworth Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Conservatoire Composer’s Ensemble. Thomas has also been a regular guest with Charnwood Orchestra, Wyre Forest Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham University Symphony Orchestra. This year he will make his debut with Hereford String Orchestra and Leamington Chamber Orchestra.
Thomas has recently been working with vocal students from Birmingham Conservatoire, conducting the world premier of James Oldham’s ‘Off the Beaten Track’ with Waste Paper Opera at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham. Thomas has also worked with students on scenes from Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, Die Zauerflote, Zaide, La Finta Giardiniera and Carmen. In February 2013 he conducted a semi-staged performance of scenes from Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw, Owen Wingrave, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Albert Herring at the Adrian Boult Hall.

Thomas has been studying privately with Philip Ellis since 2009 and has participated in masterclasses with Sian Edwards, Steuart Bedford, John Carewe and Michael Seal.

The orchestra is led as usual by distinguished local performer and teacher, Ros Taunton. The concert will start at 7.30pm and tickets are available at the door, £8/£5 concessions with all school children getting in for free, so long as they are accompanied by an adult. The orchestra now has a fully updated website and a facebook page where further details about the orchestra and recruitment can be found.For any further info about the orchestra please contact The Chairperson on 01594 510604.

 

Pictured below, Robert Kurnatowski.

 

 

Winter 2012 Concert Review

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Published on: January 17, 2013

Press Release: 9th November 2012

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Published on: November 21, 2012

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce details of its forthcoming winter concert on Saturday 1st December 2012 at Coleford Baptist Church. The orchestra will once again be under the musical direction of its energetic young conductor, Thomas Payne, who studied violin and conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire and will perform the spirited overture to Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in the first half. The soloist is trumpeter Edward Carpenter. Brought up in Somerset, Edward came to Birmingham to study at the Conservatoire in 2007. During his studies he had many opportunities with the major ensembles, playing a wide range of repertoire. In 2009 he was awarded a place to study in Italy with Giancarlo Parodi. During the term spent there Edward played both the Vivaldi double trumpet concerto with Sergio Luchetta and also the Torelli Trumpet concerto, accompanied by the Baroque Orchestra of Ferrara. He was a finalist in several competitions at the college, including the Corfield Trumpet Prize and the Brass Prize, he was also awarded the postgraduate certificate course prize for 2011/12. During his postgraduate studies Edward was awarded a place on the CBSO orchestral training scheme in which he took part in a number of orchestral rehearsals.Away from his studies, Edward was a founder member of the Thumb contemporary music ensemble, with whom he plays regularly. Edward has also played with several other ensembles in the Birmingham area, including the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, the CBSO Youth Orchestra and the Sinfonia of Birmingham.

Following the interval the second half will entirely devoted to a performance of one of classical music most powerful and best loved works, Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, ‘The Eroica’. The orchestra is led as usual by distinguished local performer and teacher, Ros Taunton. The concert will start at 7.30pm and tickets are available at the door, £8/£5 concessions with children under 14 getting in for free, so long as they are accompanied by an adult. There will be retiring collection in aid of SARA and refreshments will be available. The orchestra now has a fully updated website www.rfdo.org.uk and a facebook page where further details about the orchestra can be found.

Concert Review: Summer 2012

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Published on: July 6, 2012
ROYAL FOREST OF DEAN ORCHESTRA: CONCERT AT NEWLAND CHURCH
Saturday 30th June 2012
The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra were in unfamiliar territory, musically speaking, last Saturday, exploring the complexities of late romantic European music. Two new composers entered their repertoire, Sibelius and Max Bruch, and this was a brave step into the unknown by the Orchestra under their dynamic and enterprising Musical Director Thomas Payne.
The concert was held in the great medieval Forest Cathedral at Newland, with its fine acoustics and grand setting. Sibelius started and finished the programme, with his symphonic poem ‘Finlandia’ and his Third Symphony, with Bruch’s Violin Concerto in the middle.
Finlandia was a powerful start for the evening.  It is a dramatic patriotic piece celebrating the Finnish people’s struggle to assert their identity against their great neighbours the Russians, and the orchestra captured the turbulence of the age and then the calm confidence of the new country.
Bruch’s Violin Concerto was, coincidentally, played on Classic FM earlier that day. Philippe Quint, the Russian-American virtuoso was the soloist on the radio recording, and I have to say that the performance of Elin White, the RFODO soloist who reprised the concerto in the evening was as good. Her command of the richly lyrical, powerful, sweeping, and fiendishly difficult concerto was complete, and she is yet another gifted young Gloucestershire musician to partner the orchestra.
Sibelius’ Third is not particularly known, and presents technical difficulties that may well have deterred a less confident and ambitious conductor than Thomas Payne. But it was a well chosen and well performed piece, celebrating in the romantic way the triumph of lightness over darkness, all to the accompaniment of insistent cello pizzicato. I hope that the cellists’ fingers were not completely torn to shreds.
The Orchestra’s mastery of this unfamiliar territory clearly brought them great shock and delight at the end of the performance. ‘Yes we can!’. They are approaching their 20thanniversary, and their journey from their uncertain start all those years ago to becoming an established regional orchestra has been a pleasure to observe. It’s all down to the partnership between the musical director and the orchestra. Their inspiring conductor coaxes, urges, encourages, and above all trusts the orchestra. The orchestra, led into dangerous territory, overcomes its doubts and difficulties.
It’s back to Beethoven for the next concert on 1st December, and I hope a programme of inspiring music for their anniversary year in 2013.
Dave Kent

Concert Review: Spring 2012

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Published on: April 2, 2012

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra paid a visit to St Peters Church, Newnham, last Saturday, presenting a well chosen and demanding programme of music to a packed house. Newnham is the home of the orchestra, as they rehearse in the village school, and the church has the grandeur and the acoustics to inspire the performers to another fine performance from this ambitious group. The Forest’s church buildings seem to be the best local venues for classical music, and the orchestra have previously performed at Coleford Baptist Church and Newland, Parkend and St Briavels Churches.

I can’t recall the orchestra playing Mozart before, but the opening piece this time was the Overture to his Magic Flute opera, a lively, if short, opening to the evening.

Next was a Concertino (which I discovered was a short concerto) for trombone and orchestra by Ferdinand David, performed by the phenomenally gifted local musician, 14 year old Rhiannon Symonds.

You don’t usually consider the trombone to be an instrument for soloists, but this piece from the German romantic period was beautifully and expressively played by Rhiannon. It was a precociously assured performance, and the audience called her back twice for curtain calls at the end of her performance. The last time I heard Rhiannon she was playing in the Forest Woodwind Ensemble and singing cabaret songs in a quite different environment (musically and in all other senses) at Newnham Club, highlighting the breadth of her musical interests.

The last piece was Brahms’ 2nd Symphony, a powerful and reflective work that took the orchestra into new areas that they confidently found their way through.

Thomas Payne, the ridiculously youthful and empathetic conductor, has a great rapport with the orchestra and is a great ambassador for classical music in the community, especially in the Forest of Dean. He challenges and encourages the musicians, and the success of this difficult programme and the large and appreciative audiences that they attract, testify to the growing strength of RFODO.


Review by Forest View

I was at St Peter’s Church, Newnham, for the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra’s spring concert last Saturday. The setting and acoustics were superb, and the Orchestra added to their growing reputation with spirited and accomplished performances of some well known and less well known pieces. They started off with the mercurial Overture to Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute, followed by perhaps the highlight of the evening, the concertina for trombone and orchestra by Ferdinand David, with the astonishingly gifted Rhiannon Symonds as soloist. The Orchestra always feature a guest star as soloist, and the performance of 14 year old Rhiannon of Yorkley was at least as accomplished as any of the national and international musicians who have preceded her.

The show concluded with a fine performance of Brahms’ 2nd Symphony. The RFODO musical director, Thomas Payne, is passionate about developing the orchestra and taking them to new challenges. They have certainly come a long way since their perhaps uncertain start 20 years ago. The next concert will be at Newland Church on 30th June, with another young musical star Elin White of Gloucester, who will be playing Bruch’s Violin Concerto.

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