Well as it happens this wonderful event had an extra treat for the audience: the Chamber Orchestra expertly reprising from their recent concert Corelli’s Concerto Grosso and the delightfully foot-tappable Libertango by Piazzolla to start. It was a great way to introduce the evening, and set the scene for the delights to follow.
The Symphony Orchestra was on fine form: entertainment, education, and even a dabble into the cross-curricular… the Orchestra opened with Rimsky-Korsakov. Now he’s definitely one for the spirited and enthusiastic, and his Dance of the Tumblers is a fine example of his style: brisk, melodic and full of joie de vivre. Next, our Shakespearean nod: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Nicolai-style. Had you heard it before? Mr Penny rated it as little known but great fun – and I certainly recognised some of the main themes which are clearly joyful enough to have made it (no doubt trimmed and tailed) into various other settings. Great fun it was. Czardas and My Fair Lady followed: Delibes and Loewe respectively. Admit it… you were singing along in your head to the last one… you could have danced all night… I know it. Marvellous work by the Orchestra.
And every bit as marvellous was the Choral Society and our brilliant soloists Emma Jarvis, Ella Jerman-Riddell, Madelaine Felton, Gabriella Zins and Lucy-Eve Wright. This is a fantastic work to sing, and I hope just as terrific to enjoy as part of the audience. Our soloists offered the most breathtaking of contrasts to the choral passages: lyrical, poignant, flowing, passionate, they each in turn offered the stillness and beauty so necessary to offset the intensity of the full choir as it played out Vivaldi’s ‘Glorious’ intention. I find the ending unusual… there is something rather abrupt about it…. but the effect is quite mesmerising, and the Choral Society under Mr Penny’s expert control achieved something very, very special.
Congratulations to the performers one and all, but in particular to Mr Penny whose evening’s conducting (and of course all the preparation in the weeks before) was inspirational.