Concert Review: Spring 2012

by rob
Categories: Press Releases
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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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