Press Release: 11th February 2012

by rob
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Published on: February 21, 2012

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce details of its forthcoming spring concert on Saturday 24th 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 Mozart’s Overture to ‘The Magic Flute’ and the concertino for trombone by David in the first half. The soloist this term is local trombone prodigy Rhiannon Symonds from Yorkley.

Rhiannon, 14, has been playing the trombone for 5 years. At the age of 11 she passed her Grade 8 with Distinction and at 12 became the youngest ever brass player in the prestigious National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales where she is currently Principal Trombone.

In 2009 Rhiannon was awarded the Robert Lewin Scholarship by the AYM, became a Future Talent Star and the youngest member of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra. In 2010 Rhiannon was again awarded the Robert Lewin Scholarship as well as an EMI Music Scholarship and Musicians Benevolent Fund Scholarship.

2011 was a very special year for Rhiannon. In January Rhiannon competed at the Chandos Symphony Orchestra Young Musician of the Year competition and was awarded the title of Most Promising Player for the second successive year and in February she won the Newark National Brass Festival. During March Rhiannon was a concerto soloist with the Solihull Symphony Orchestra and became the youngest trombonist in the UK to pass the Associate of the Trinity Guildhall London (ATCL) examination following a 40 minute recital. In July she performed at the Ryedale Festival on behalf of Future Talent in the presence of HRH Katherine Kent and took up the co-principal trombone position with the National Youth Brass Band of Wales. In November, Rhiannon was runner-up in the AXA Ambition Awards in the Arts category, a highly competitive national competition, and performed for the third time at the Royal Albert Hall for the Music For Youth Schools Prom. To close the year Rhiannon was successful in auditioning for positions with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and securing her Grade 8 with Distinction on Euphonium.

A spokesperson for the orchestra said, ‘we’re thrilled to be playing alongside Rhiannon in this concert – she’s easily the youngest soloist we’ve ever had but she’s also so inspirational – we recommend all young musicians to come along and hear what can be achieved with hard work and determination.’

Following the interval the second half will entirely devoted to a performance of Johannes Brahms’s mighty second symphony. 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. The orchestra now has a fully updated website www.rfdo.org.uk 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.

Photos of Rhiannon will be forwarded on from another email.

Concert Review: Winter 2011

by rob
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Published on: December 21, 2011

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra scored another successful
concert at the Baptist Church, Coleford, with another well chosen programme of
concerto, symphony and folk music. The Orchestra have enhanced their reputation
recently in performances with distinguished soloists invited to join them, and
this latest concert was no exception.

Simon Smith, the internationally famed violin virtuoso, and
Alex Kirk, the local Forest piano prodigy performed Beethoven concerti at the
last two RFODO concerts, and for their December event the orchestra were joined
by Kwesi Edman for the Cello Concerto in G, by Beethoven’s teacher Joseph
Haydn.

Kwesi is a London based teacher, conductor and performer in
many forms of music and other art forms, and he enjoyed a triumph performing
this spirited and vibrant piece with its richly graceful and lyrical second
movement.

Thomas Payne is now the Orchestra’s resident conductor,
having dropped the ‘guest’ from his title. RFODO have produced their best work
under Thomas’ direction, and his appointment as permanent musical director is
another step forward for this ambitious regional orchestra.

It’s impossible to talk about this conductor without using
the adjectives ‘youthful’ and ‘energetic’, and watching him at work one is also
aware of his great empathy with the orchestra, coaxing, encouraging, but most
effectively with a big smile which shows that performing great music can be
great fun. The partnership between conductor, soloist and orchestra was a great
feature of the cello concerto.

The first piece was a series of Romanian folk dances by
Bartok, with exotic sounds and haunting melodies on the flute. It was a brave
selection by the Orchestra to perform this less well known music, but they
carried it off well.

After the cello concerto and the interval, the Orchestra
reassembled with brass and percussion to give full value to Mozart’s powerful
and joyful ‘Jupiter’ symphony, and it was a tribute to Kwesi Edman’s commitment
and professional outlook that he joined the Orchestra after his demanding solo
performance to continue his contribution to the evening sitting among the
cellos.

The RFODO’s next performance is at St Peters Church,
Newnham, on 24th March, 2012. As well as the Magic Flute Overture
and Brahms Symphony No 2, they are will be performing a trombone concertino by
Ferdinand David. I rather suspect that they might have signed up a brilliant
solo trombonist for the occasion.

Press Release: 11th November 2011

by rob
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Published on: November 14, 2011

Winter 2011 Concert

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce details of its forthcoming winter concert on Saturday 3rd December 2011 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 Bartok’s Rumanian Folk Dances and Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C in the first half. The soloist is cellist Kwesi Edman who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied with David Strange and Philip Sheppard.

Since leaving the Academy his career has branched out to include other art forms such as the spoken word, dance and artists.
He performs regularly across the world as a soloist, chamber musician, pop musician and conductor and has collaborated with players from the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Southbank Sinfonia, the Royal Opera Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has worked alongside artists such as Shirley Bassey, Damon Albarn and Elton John and even appeared next to David Beckham at the Beijing Olympics.

Kwesi founded Chamber Academy Orchestra in 2007 of which he is the principal conductor. He is head of the Performance, Advanced and Alpine courses at Oxford Cello School and teaches privately in London.

Following the interval the second half will entirely devoted to a performance of one of Mozart’s best known and final works; Symphony No 41 ‘The Jupiter’. 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 ‘Hope for Tomorrow’ 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.

Kwesi Edman

For any further info about the orchestra please contact The Chairperson on 01594 510604.

 

Concert Review: Summer 2011

by rob
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Published on: July 14, 2011

There was a standing ovation for the outstanding pianist, Alex Kirk, at a delightful concert presented by the Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra at St Briavels Church on Saturday 9th July.  Alex, perhaps the most accomplished young musician in the Forest, played Beethoven’s powerful 1st Piano Concerto as the finale to a well chosen and well received programme of works mostly from the golden age of romantic music. I had the wonderful opportunity from my seat of observing a great musician at work, which is one of the rewarding things of the concert-going experience, the excitement, the visual aspects, the thrilling uncertainty and the danger.

RFODO are acquiring a reputation as Beethoven specialists, and with soloists like Alex, and Simon Smith, who performed the Beethoven violin concerto at their previous concert, fans of the composer can be assured of a great evening of music with this Orchestra.

The evening started with a lively and thrilling performance of Rossini’s overture to his opera ‘The Italian Girl in Algiers’, a story about an indomitable heroine who rescues her lover from the forces of evil.

This was followed by Schubert’s Tragic Symphony, which is in turn reflective, lyrical, agitated and dramatic, well suited to the style and strengths of the Orchestra.

The guest conductor, Alastair Cameron, is less flamboyant that Thomas Payne, the other conductor working with the Orchestra. The contrast in styles is remarkable, but the outcomes in terms of high quality musical outcomes are equally good. Alastair is also a composer, of film music as well as concert works. He had lined up Gounod’s ‘Funeral March of a Marionette’ (well known as the signature tune to Hitchcock thrillers) in the programme, but as this music was unavailable he wrote his own piece for the evening. His modestly titled ‘A Trifle’ (a world premiere) was the only gatecrasher in an evening of otherwise exclusively early nineteenth century music. It is an amusing little piece which could be imagined as the sound track to some off-beat television comedy, and was relished by performers and audience.

 

The RFODO are gradually making the journey to becoming a fine regional orchestra. After a perhaps uncertain start some years ago, they get better every performance. Encouraged by a series of top class soloists and conductors, they can now give a performance that can satisfy the St Briavels concert-going public, who are used to the international standards of the Wye Valley Music Society which often performs at St Briavels Church.

Press Release: 15th June 2011

by rob
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Published on: June 15, 2011

Summer 2011 Concert

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce the programme and details for its forthcoming summer concert. The orchestra will perform once again in one of the area’s most beautiful buildings, the Church of St Mary in St Briavels, and will present a marvellous programme of traditional classical music, including Rossini’s mischievous Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers and Schubert’s rarely heard Symphony No 4, ‘The Tragic’. The entire second half will be devoted to Beethoven’s majestic first piano concerto when the orchestra will be joined by local piano prodigy, Alex Kirk.

Alex started learning the piano at the age of five. From 2003 he has been attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under the Junior Music and Access Studies course, and at the age of fourteen, passed grade VIII with distinction.  This pass was acknowledged by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music for gaining the highest mark in the region. In May 2010, Alex was awarded the Margaret Rose Bursary by Drybrook and District Ladies Choir in memory of their founder musical director Margaret Burford and earlier this year he gained The Herbert Howells Bursary . Alex was also a finalist in the Gloucestershire Young Musician and won the Cheltenham festival’s Keith Nutland award  for best young musician. As an accompanist, he plays for the Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir and the Springfield Singers and is quickly becoming well known as a talented classical pianist, performing in venues such as Cheltenham Town Hall and Bath’s Guildhall. Alex was successful in auditioning for a place at the Royal College of Music in London where he will start in September.

The orchestra will be conducted by local musician, Alastair Cameron and led, as usual by distinguished performer and teacher, Ros Taunton. A spokesperson for the orchestra said, ‘we are all thrilled to be playing with Alex – the orchestra’s ethos has always been to promote local youngsters, particularly those who are clearly going onto great things and Alex is certainly one of those! We hope  people will come, support and be inspired by Alex before he goes off to the Royal College of Music in London.’

Press Release: 4th April 2011

by rob
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Published on: May 10, 2011

Spring 2011 Concert

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra’s Spring Concert at the Baptist Chapel Coleford last Saturday was a great musical occasion for Forest classical music fans. Two major musicians were guests for the occasion, Simon Smith as violin soloist, and the youthful conductor Thomas Payne.

The Orchestra had fun playing the mischievous Mozart Marriage of Figaro Overture, and their enthusiasm was so infectious that the audience was inspired to applaud between movements. This is completely contrary to accepted conventions for audience behaviour, and there has been recent heated correspondence over this controversial subject. Royal Albert Hall audiences might have disapproved, but it seemed right in Coleford.

The Clock is one of Haydn’s London symphonies where baroque meets romantic, and the drawing room elegance of Georgian London was evoked in a spirited and energetic performance.

The Orchestra are gradually building a reputation as Beethoven specialists, having performed his 4th symphony and the Egmont overture at recent concerts, and their performance of his Violin Concerto was as fine and as thrilling a musical performance as can ever have been heard in the Forest.

The soloist was Simon Smith, a distinguished violinist of international reputation. Performing without a musical score, his rapport with conductor and orchestra was perfect, and his interpretation of this powerful and lyrical concerto generated prolonged applause (at the right place) from the large audience. I was horrified to see that one of the tuning pegs on Simon’s instrument had suddenly failed during his performance, but with a smile and complete assurance he silently retuned his violin and continued uninterrupted.

Simon Smith


The influence of Thomas Payne can be seen in the emergence of RFODO as a proud and important local orchestra. He works hard at the podium coaxing, encouraging, and directing the musicians, and his delight at their success was wonderful to see. Thomas has been RFODO’s guest conductor for several concerts, and he deserves enormous credit for the special night of music enjoyed at Coleford last week.

I’m almost inspired to dust off my violin grade 5 certificate of 50 years ago and join in. I imagine that their rehearsals are fun, and to be a part of music like that must be one of the great experiences of life.

Press release 4th November 2010

by rob
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Published on: November 26, 2010

The Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra is delighted to announce details of its forthcoming winter concert to be held on Saturday 4th December at Newland Church, nr Coleford. The orchestra, under the baton of local pianist and clarinettist, Alastair Cameron will present a stunning programme of popular Romantic classics, kicking off with Rossini’s mischievous Soirees Musicales (op 9), and then moving on to a dazzling collection of pocket-sized orchestral classics, including Faure’s Masques and Bergamasques, Massenet’s Scenes Pittoresques and Bizet’s frothy and enchanting Carmen Suite. In the second half the audience will be able to hear Mendelssohn’s delightful Symphony No 4, otherwise known as ‘The Italian.’

The orchestra is delighted to be presenting its very first concert under co-conductor Alastair Cameron from Mitcheldean.

Alastair began conducting at university, where he had the opportunity to conduct the full range of the university’s ensembles. He directed a number of university performances including musicals, orchestral works, and one of his own compositions which was performed  by the university chamber choir and orchestra, and was subsequently broadcast on Radio 4.

As usual the orchestra will be led by distinguished local teacher and performer, Ros Taunton and this year the orchestra will be instituting a park and ride scheme to and from the church, in order to improve parking in and around Newland.


There will be a retiring collection in aid of Great Oaks Hospice. The Concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets will be available at  the door on the evening and are priced at £8 and £5 concessions. Accompanied children under 14 are free of charge.

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For further info about any aspect of RFODO please e-mail: enquiries@rfdo.org.uk

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