Review of the concert in the Corn Exchange on Thursday 9th June 2016

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s classical concert on Thursday was a unique programme of traditional classical music, items  that highlighted the tremendous talent of percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, and an intriguing work created in a project with students from the Netherhall School.

The more traditional works were expertly conducted by Nicholas Collon and these included Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande: Suite and Sibelius’s Symphony no. 5 in Eb major, op 82. In the Fauré the orchestra’s exquisite control and emotional depth were immediately apparent. These skilful performers demonstrated amazing variations in expression, tone and articulation, ranging from potent richness to the gentle, sensitive touch in the very familiar ‘Siciliana’.

The Sibelius finished the programme splendidly, the majesty and expansiveness of the composition ever-present and especially noticeable in those unforgettable horn passages.

Taking central stage also was a real star of the evening; Dame Evelyn Glennie who wowed the audience with her amazing virtuosic technique and fantastic stage presence. In ‘Party Games’ by Debbie Wiseman, the attractive tones and rhythms of the marimba were beautifully explored.

In Michael Daugherty’s ‘Dream Machine (2014) for solo percussion and orchestra’ Dame Evelyn  excelled, giving full voice to the delightful and approachable ideas the composer presented. The watery effects of the ‘electrical eel’ were wonderfully enhanced with Dame Evelyn’s magical music and strong personal involvement – almost like a mermaid she was. The whole composition gave Dame Evelyn a chance to explore an amazing variety of instruments and the sounds fused between her and the orchestra created a fantastic range of images from flurries of flight, humorous claptrap, and serenity to demonic powerful forces.

Perhaps the most intriguing event of the evening was ‘Farm City, Found Sounds’ performed by the orchestra and students from the Netherhall School. This piece was the culmination of a project in which the students were encouraged to go back to basics, to explore sound for its innate qualities and create music that was as it definition implies – ‘organized sound’’. Any sound is valid created as an individual or en masse, as long as it is the sound that has been designed and expressed as intended. This was an excellent way of introducing the students to the excitement and reward that comes from being involved in the world of live music performance.

This was a very successful and enjoyable evening.

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