** Positive Notes about Various Concerts **

Season - 2018/2019

(as reviewed by Roger Swann )

See also reviews of other seasons


21st Mar 2019 - 19:30 hrs Seaton Music Concert:    Castalian Quartet / Trio

The Seaton Gateway, Seaton, Devon

With second violinist Daniel Roberts suddenly "indisposed" the Castalian Quartet had to reinvent themselves as the Castalian Trio.

This did give the audience a chance to enjoy some less familiar repertoire. It was especially wonderful to hear Charlotte Bonneton's glowing and bright viola tone in the Mozart duets K424 matching the violin sound of Sini Simonen.


16th March 2019 - 19:30 hrs - ISCA Ensemble - Roger Hendy - James Gilbert (clarinet)

Sidmouth Parish Church, Sidmouth, Devon

Your reviwer had attended several rehearsals for this concert before a minor injury from a cycle crash forced him to pull out at the last minute (many thanks to Tracey Alder for emergency cover!)

The ISCA ensemble is blessed with a very strong string section who sounded very comfortable in Wagner's Rienzi Overture. The same could also be said about James Gilbert's performance of Weber's second clarinet concerto (skillful control at the end of the slow movement)

The concert provided the rare chance to hear Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 (op 10). Written when aged 19 it already has many of the hallmarks of his later and greater symphonies: Pleading stark desolate flute solos, extended orchestral crescendos supported by vigorous percussion and long loud ironic (or at least enigmatic) codas. Full marks to Roger Hendy both for the work he had done preparing the score and also for programming the work in the first place.

Here's your reviewer incapacitated with a broken radial head bone in the right elbow

Reviewer nursing broken arm
( Photograph: Julie - March 2019)


14th Mar 2019 - 19:30 hrs - Gilly's Gem - Chilli con Comedy

Colyton Theatre Group

Colyton Town Hall, Colyton, Devon

Gin based cocktail (not too strong!) and a generous helping of chilli con carne ensured that the audience were ready for the play: Sandy Taylor's one act: "Gilly's Gem*

As the comic action unfolded it became clear that both gin and mincemeat were foundations of the depicted household.

With a stage impressively crammed full of domestic detail (stage design credited to the director: Maggie Smith) all five actors enjoyed their larger than life characters to the full. This was a most enjoyable evening.


8th Mar 2019 - 19:30 hrs - Mnozil Brass

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

Your reviewer gave Mnozil brass gushing praise when he first heard them (4th July 2010) and four years later (17th Oct 2014).

So this is the third hearing and if anything it was the best yet!

Some clever gags mixed up with an endless stream of out of this world brass playing including a sparkling exerpt from Stravinsky's Firebird.

They also do the quiet cantabile playing with ease and charm. The gig of the year!


7th Mar 2019 - 19:30 hrs - Steve Knightley

The Beehive    Honiton, Devon

A laid back relaxed delivery with an up to date sound system perfectly set up so that you could savour the attractively constructed lyrics of Steve Knightley's compositions

An evening perfectly suited to this moderately sized welcoming venue.


1st Mar 2019 - 19:30 hrs - The Glamour Girls

Colyton Town Hall, Colyton, Devon

Quite a remarkable evening organised by the Nunsford Nutters Carnival Committee featuring the three MAN "Glamour Girls" who are resident in Oludeniz, Turkey during the summer and tour England as their build up. Their "drag queen" show might have been jeopardised by one of the three being taken to hospital immediately prior to show, but they hid it well. Great fun, great innuendo and great great revealing outfits (and in one case spectacularly flexible breasts !).

Arriving with little time to spare, your reviewer got stuck on a front table and it took only a few moments before the act caught on to the "Roger" inevitable lines.....

This is a link (safe and more or less family friendly) which gives you an idea of what you are up against....

The Glamour Girls in Turkey


21st Feb 2019 - 19:30 hrs Seaton Music Concert:    Joanna MacGregor (piano)

The Seaton Gateway, Seaton, Devon

A wide range of composer's music made up this varied receital by Joanna MacGregor. Ending with a powerful passionate performance of Beethoven's Op57 (Appassionata) sonata she was equally persuasive in the refined style of Chopin and the deliberately virtuosic music of Ginastera.

Two contrasting contemporary composers were also represented: Sofia Gubaidulina (Chaconne) (Ms MacGregor relishing some of the brutal passages) and Fazil Say with the extended technique sounds in his "Black Earth".

All the high quality playing was matched by her own clear informative concert programme notes.

It's always good to be reminded that great artists are normal people: Ms MacGregor looked like she was really enjoying her pint of ale immediately following her performance, and so she should: she deserved it!


17th Feb 2019 - 15:00 hrs -  The Axe Vale Orchestra - Arturo Serna - Penelope Lee (narrator)

Seaton Methodist Church, Seaton, Devon

Roger Swann = horn

An enjoyable afternoon's music making in the comfortable and welcoming venue (followed by copious excellent cakes).

Arturo Serna, faultless throughout, chose workable but achievable tempi allowing the orchestra to perform to it's best. The strings showed their strength with valuable secure support being shown by leader Rachel Burrough.

Penelope Lee's declamations of extracts from Shakespear's Midsummer Night's Dream did the source more than justice and greatly illuminated Mendelssohn's music. A very imaginative piece of concert programming.


9th Feb 2019 - 19:30 hrs - Helix Ensemble - Toby Purser (Musical Director)

St Andrews Church, Countesthorpe, Leicestershire

Choosing a programming theme of "an early work and a late work" by two composers (Ravel and Haydn) proved an interesting idea of Toby Purser. For the first time ever your reviewer was struck by how Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Defunte (op 19) occupies a very similar sound world to his contemporary, Deilus.

Both the Haydn symphonies (Numbers 1 and 104) positively fizzed with joy.


2nd Feb 2019 - 19:30 hrs - ISCA Ensemble Light Orchestra - Roger Hendy - Chris Gradwell (tenor sax) - Andrew Daldorph (piano) - Jim Rintoule (bass) - Steve Douglas (drums) - Jo Sharp (oboe)

Sidmouth Parish Church, Sidmouth, Devon

Roger Swann = horn

A sell out concert featuring some great tunes by Eric Coates, Robert Farnon, Leroy Anderson, Ennio Morricone etc.

The concert also gave East Devon audiences a second chance to hear Alphie Pugh's full length composition "Journey of the Feline Mind", conducted by the composer and featuring the excellent Chris Gradwell at the front and a talented jazz trio (names as above). The composer conjured up the sound worlds of sleazy jazz, luscious film scores and "Radio 2" schmoltz (do you remember the Mike Sammes Singers?) with ease as well as writing passages in 15/16 time that sounded not in the least bit contrived.

Clearly a talented composer, Alfie also had completed control of the orchestra with his baton as he navigated the many tricky corners of his complex score.

Roger Hendy's string section should be very proud of the full sound they make when presented with these rich flowing scores.


31st Jan 2019 - 19:30 hrs - Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of the Four

The Poole Lighthouse Theatre , Dorset

Blackeyed Theatre's adaption (script credit Nick Lane) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's second full length Sherlock Holme's novel made for a challenging evening for the analytical minds in the audience.

A complex plot, but great theatre! All the actors doubled on instruments when they were not active on stage (Stephanie Rutherford seemed a master of bass trombone, tenor horn and violin as well as being a fine actress).


22nd Dec 2018 - 19:30 hrs - ISCA Ensemble South West - Roger Hendy - Emmanuel Bach (violin) - Joel Munday (violin)

Sidmouth Parish Church, Sidmouth, Devon

Roger Swann = horn

Joe Sharp's achingly beautiful opening oboe solo in Handel's Water Music set the standard: This was going to be a quality performance.

The hiqh quality was matched by the excellent team work from the two violin solists and continued through to the very happy last movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 88 (played as an encore).

The church was packed, mince pies were enjoyed in the interval and a fair amount of cash was raised for Hospiscare.


8th Dec 2018 - 19:30 hrs - A Christmas Carol

Marine Theatre , Lyme Regis, Dorset

The Marine Theatre Players presented this adaption of Dickens' classic Christmas tale. It's a great story and the production made good use of spirited lighting to capture the four ghosts and Scrooge's "coming to see the light".

It was great to see many young people involved. Tiny Tim's solo (silent night) was very poignant.


5th Dec 2018 - 20:00 hrs - Wednesday Orchestra - Stewart Stunell

Silver Street Baptist Church, Taunton

Roger Swann = horn

It was an honour to be invited to help out with the Taunton based "Wednesday Orchestra" and their "Christmas Playthrough"

This friendly group of players of a wide range of backgrounds and abilities have the advantage of a full sounding string section that particularly shone in the slow movement of Sibelius' Karelia Suite.


1st Dec 2018 - 19:00 hrs - Martin Taylor and Martin Simpson

Marine Theatre , Lyme Regis, Dorset

Two of Britain's greatest guitarists playing this delightfully intimate venue couldn't help but be a classic gig (and a sell-out one too).

No one left the hall disappointed! Martin Simpson's bottle neck guitar playing and Martin Taylor's awe inspiring virtuosity would be enough reason to be there alone. But what made it extra special was the total synchronisation between these great musicians.

It was so obvious that each respected the other. Rather than a battle to show off it was almost a battle to take the back seat. A remarkable concert.


17th Nov 2018 - 19:30 hrs - Axminster Musical Theatre - Made in Dagenham

Axminster Guildhall, Axminster, Devon

Axminster Musical Theatre put on a great show for the sell out house. Director Jack Price kept the pace up on the stage and MD Ian Crew had a high quality band (sensitive tight percussion from Sam Felton) to back up the good strong singing on stage.

Laura Addy as Rita O'Grady was a star in the main role, but she was helped by strong acting by all her colleagues.

The show was thought provoking, powerful and very funny. Lyrics by Richard Thomas included such rhymes as "ought ta" and "shorter" and the even better "I need ya" and "Procedure" !


15th Nov 2018 - 19:30 hrs - Nicholas Mogg (baritone) - Jams Coleman (piano)

The Seaton Gateway, Seaton, Devon

Nicholas Mogg (baritone) and Jams Coleman presented a range of songs for The Seaton Music Society's Novemenber concert.

They included one or two well known ones of course but it was a real joy to hear Ivor Gurney's "Sleep" which your reviewer performed only five days previously in an orchestral version (see below).

It was a neat idea to include Carl Loewe's setting of Der Erlkonig alongside the much more frequently performed Schubert setting; different but equally effective with Nicholas Mogg bringing out the two conversationists to maximum effect.

A significant contribution to the success of the event was Jams Coleman's piano accompaniment: you really could hear the sunlight in his playing during Duparc's "L'invitation au voyage".


14th Nov 2018 - 19:30 hrs - Musical Squares - Michael & Wendy Gluyas

St Andrews Church, Colyton, Devon

Presented by the enterprising "Friends of St. Andrews" this talk by Michael Gluyas (with quick moving technical support by Wendy Gluyas) covered a lot of material from the worlds of physics, biology, medicine and music in an 80 minute burst of wit and lucidity.

Excellent live demonstrations of both transverse and longitudinal waves as well as an audience member having their stomach amplified to the enjoyment of all present were typical of the range covered.


10th Nov 2018 - 19:30 hrs - The Somerset County Orchestra - David Hedges - Lorna Anderson (soprano)

St James Church, Taunton, Somerset

Roger Swann = horn

The highlight of this enjoyable event was Lorna Anderson's singing of seven songs by Ivor Gurney with the an accompaniment skillfully orchestrated by David Hedges.

This was expressive singing without histrionics, perfectly suited to these gentle but moving settings.

Including the suite from "Things to Come" by Arthur Bliss was an imaginative bit of concert programming appreciated by audience and members of the orchestra alike.


3rd Nov 2018 - 17:00 hrs - The Axe Vale Orchestra (conductor: Leslie Baker) - La Croch'Coeur (conductor: Thierry Anquetil)

The Guildhall, Axminster, Devon

An enjoyable evening's music performed by the Axe Vale Orchestra in combination with a band from Axminster's twin french town of Douvres.

Music ranging from Barry Gibb's "Woman in Love" to extracts from Bizet's Carmen kept the audience engaged.


See also reviews of other seasons


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