Press Release: Summer 2015 Concert

by rob
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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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