A packed church was ready to greet their relative next-door neighbours for what was an exciting and highly-enjoyable concert, given as part of Tavistock’s ongoing Arts Festival.
North Devon Sinfonia is essentially an amateur ensemble, but made the headlines last year when it was gained the title of the nation’s ‘most inspirational’ amateur orchestra after winning BBC TV’s All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge.
Festival President and composer Andrew Wilson has specially written the concert opener – his Hartland Point Overture, a highly-effective description in sound of the rugged coastal scenery at this North Devon landmark, to which the orchestra responded with real pzaz and enthusiasm.
The players were then joined by Dominic Carter in an equally exciting rendition of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, where Dom’s assured playing and lead significantly helped maintain a taut ensemble throughout, not always easy in a church where sight lines are sometimes compromised.
Holst’s Planets is a challenging work even for a professional outfit, not just because of the complexities in each of its movements, but also because of its need for a large orchestra of over eighty players.
Conductor Emma Kent fashioned an overall-impressive performance from her extended resources, led by violinist-husband Dan, and, while there were understandable flaws and slips along the way, there was also more than enough to demonstrate just how the orchestra had earned its ‘inspirational’ epithet.
PHILIP R BUTTALL