It was a bold decision to lay on a substantial concert after only a week of term, but the event was highly successful, giving much pleasure to regulars and newcomers alike. Solo and chamber items were performed by members of the peripatetic music staff, before the full forces of various ensembles completed the programme.
Appropriately, Jonathan May opened proceedings with the Prologue to “I Pagliacci”, leaping from his place in the front row with arresting effect to enthral us with his richly resonant baritone. Singing in English, he projected all the pathos of the number and the lyrical climax was spine-tingling. Modestly, he declined to take the second bow for which the audience was clamouring.
There followed two items involving flautist Sally Lane, the first with Jane Gleave-Pickett (guitar) and the second with Ruth Theobold (oboe) and Felicity Stubbs (bassoon). These were serene and graceful examples of music-making, creating a sense of intimacy even in the vastness of the Alington Hall. The tonal blending in the duet was marvellous to witness, as was the evident rapport in the trio.
Enter the Brass Ensemble, reveille banishing repose, popular numbers thundered out to raise the roof. This formidable line-up seems to increase at every appearance, a credit to those who teach the several instruments. Many of the players remained behind, being joined by woodwind and an augmented percussion section to form the Wind Band in “Midnight in Buenos Aires”. What an evocative composition and what sensitive, vibrant playing!
More furniture-moving - to accommodate a huge orchestra - and we were away with the Lone Ranger (if you are old enough to remember him, that is). I refer, of course, to the finale of Rossini’s William Tell overture, irresistible as ever, and rousingly played. The choice of piece led neatly into a selection of film scores, an area in which JFM has recently immersed himself. His enthusiasm was communicated to the players, who, in spite of limited rehearsal time, gave vivid renderings of the famous themes. I hope they will have another chance to entertain an even bigger audience. Those who were fortunate enough to be there on Sunday night will doubtless spread the word.