St Andrew’s Lunchtime Summer Recitals provide a welcome opportunity for anyone in the city centre to pop in, and perhaps have something to eat, as time permits. For the mainly-local recitalists involved, it can offer an eminently less-formal performance platform.
It was refreshing that Plymouth Philharmonic Choir had chosen a lighter programme for their summer concert, as the sun streamed through the stained-glass windows into the hall.
There is undoubtedly a high level of expertise and humanism in Brahms’ German Requiem, but this has rarely been sufficient for it to achieve the same degree of popularity as those, for example, by Verdi, Mozart or Fauré.
With the title Noyses, Sounds & Sweet Aires, it wouldn’t be too difficult to guess this lovely afternoon concert was the choir’s own celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary.
This unique happening involved three consecutive events, linked by the theme of memories – those of loved ones now no longer here with us.
Plymouth Symphony Orchestra has featured music from the movies at previous concerts. But it’s never sounded like this before.
There had been but few changes of personnel among the ranks and, as ever, conductor Anne Kimber gave her absolute all throughout.
But while a conductor can infuse music with an individual interpretation, they still need someone to communicate this to the players in more practical terms.
In Cath Smith the orchestra has now got a superb leader who not only looks after technical issues, but brings such a sense of vigour, enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment to her role, and which immediately inspires the orchestra as a whole.
This was so evident not only in the strings’ gloriously-rich rendition of Born Free, or the precision and excitement in the jagged, percussive rhythms of Pirates of the Caribbean, but also in the way it encouraged such fine woodwind solo playing on the night, and gave real confidence to the horn section, who often can appear so very exposed in this kind of writing.
Through the auspices of Plymouth Music Accord there were many young people present, who could only have been truly motivated by what they were hearing – and hopefully might even come again.
As for the rest of the large audience, two separate standing ovations said it all – a quite outstanding performance from the city’s only symphony orchestra.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
What a wonderful feast of largely Arab music Dartington Chamber Orchestra served up to a large audience, all part of the Open Arms week of events held in support of asylum-seekers and refugees in South Devon.
There is nothing more disappointing than going to hear a large choir sing something they’ve been working really hard on, only for the guest soloists to end up having all the best bits on the night.
Although the forecast balmy weather hadn’t materialised, there were more than enough pyrotechnics allied to a gloriously warm tone to ensure the heat was well and truly turned on throughout this very enjoyable and varied recital of music inspired by the Mediterranean, and from composers in its vicinity.
Whether you’re into Shakespeare or not, he has provided the stimulus for a lot of music over the last 400 years.
Peninsula Arts in conjunction with Suzanne Sparrow Language School mounted a delightful tribute to William Shakespeare, 400 years to the day after his death, as part of the current celebrations happening around the country, and at Plymouth University.
Most large choirs have to rely on a rehearsal-accompanist in the initial preparation of a new work, able only to afford the orchestra’s services virtually on the day.
Plymouth Symphony Orchestra has been giving three large-scale concerts annually for years – something that needs much time and dedication from players who give their services freely.
Most of us can remember our school concerts, whether we took part, or were just there to listen.
Dvořák’s American Quartet got the second recital in a three-part series devoted to music’s ties with the world’s greatest oceans and seas off to a spirited start.
Unlike classical music, performances of contemporary works often happen once only.
Devon Baroque has always come up with interesting and varied programmes, usually with a well-defined theme.
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra marked its long-overdue return to the Guildhall with a delightful mix of classical and neo-classical works, under the inspired direction of Frank Zielhorst.
The Ten Tors at Tavistock isn’t just mere alliteration – it’s a well-established annual event that truly marks the final countdown to Christmas, in a delightful moorland setting.
It felt wonderfully apt to round off this splendid Christmas Concert by Dartington Community Choir with a number of congregational carols.
Playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw wasn’t overly impressed by Mendelssohn’s Elijah, when he wrote that he’d sat through a performance as an act of professional devotion.
When the University of Plymouth Choral Society presents its annual Christmas Concert, you can always expect a varied programme of shorter, and often less-familiar works, excellent young soloists, and, most important, a tangible feeling of genuine enjoyment from the choir.