** Positive Points about Interesting Concerts **

Season - 2021/2022

(as reviewed by Roger Swann )

See also reviews of other seasons

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10th Oct 2021 - 15:30 hrs -  The Axe Vale Orchestra - Arturo Serna

The Minster, Axminster, Devon

Roger Swann = horn

This concert was dedicated to the memory of Colin Rowland, a founder member of the orchestra and was a short varied programme of some of his favourite pieces, played to a good sized and enthusiastic audience.

It's great that the AVO include such rarities as Ernest Tomlinson's First Suite of English Folk Dances (starting with a delightfully played violin solo taken by leader Jane Bultz).

Axe Vale Orchestra Horn Section: Left to right: Rosanne Jardine, Roger Swann, Mike Oganovsky, Peter Milmer (principal)

The AVO horn section ready for action
( Photograph: Chris Gradwell)

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9th Oct 2021 - 19:30 hrs - Exeter Camerata - Tony Hindley - Joel Munday (violin)

United Reformed Church, Southernhay, Exeter

Roger Swann = horn

Your reviewer's first chance to play with this prestigious Exter chamber orchestra was a joy. Tony Hindley's well planned rehearsal technique encouraging well thought out note lengths and never missing a chance to get his players to listen to each other more resulted in a tight fresh sounding orchestra who enjoyed the traditional programme of Mozart and Haydn.

Joel Munday played Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 K218 with his usual accuracy and youthful ebullience. It's always good to work with him.

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7th Oct 2021 - 19:30 hrs - Jenufa

The Royal Opera House , Covent Garden, London.

Just great to be back at the Royal Opera House after the long Covid enforced break! In at the deep end with Janacek's complex (both musically and plot wise) "Jenufa". A tragic tale that tries to have a happy ending, it certainly has some great music (with the orchestra, perhaps a little too loud at times, sounding as glorious as ever [conductor: Henrik Nanasi]) and a huge title role sung with character by Asmiti Grigorian.

The ROH has decided to stop printing cast sheets. These have been replaced by a QR scan code (not helpful for those, such as your reviewer, without a smartphone) together with a display of the information on a screen in the foyer.

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30th Sep 2021 - 12:30 hrs - Music at the Minster - Lunchtime Concert - Woodbury Winds - Jeremy White

The Minster, Axminster, Devon

Roger Swann = horn

Jeremy White took the stick to direct for this concert containing a single work: Dvorak's Wind Serenade. A good sized audience (in spite of the usual post concert free lunch being unavailable due to Covid restrictions) enjoyed the performance which was greatly helped by strong rhythmic playing from Chris Gradwell (clarinet) and Caroline Page (oboe).

Sadly this event marked the end of the administrative and musical direction of Woodbury Winds by Jane Godbeer who has been the shining light behind the ensemble's activities for over forty years. She deserved the large beauquet of flowers and stirring round of applause at the end of the concert ten times over !

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26th Sept 2021 - 19:00 hrs - Knighton Chamber Orchestra - Concert in memory of Michael Sackin - Paul Jenkins - Simon Chalk (violin) - Eleanor Wilkinson (violin)

Church of St James the Greater, Leicester

For the first post Covid concert by Knighton Chamber Orchestra, Paul Jenkins chose to present an all Bach concert. In order to accommodate the audience safely the orchestra played the same programme in two “sittings”, the earlier concert being at 16:00 hrs.

This must have presented a stamina challenge to the three trumpets in Bach’s Fourth Orchestral Suite, but they didn’t show it, sounding bright and resonant in the church and having good intonation throughout. They made a well matched team: Dan Chinery, Rachel Rayner and Gillian Butcher

Eleanor Wilkinson was one of many soloists that returned several times to play different concertos with Michael Sackin’s orchestra, The University of Leicester Sinfonia. Playing with Simon Chalk in Bach’s double concerto her smooth persuasive soft tone sat rather attractively above Simon Chalk’s darker more projected sound.

Between the pieces Paul Jenkins reminded the audience of some of Michael Sackin’s contributions to the community of the City of Leicester.

Michael Sackin was the first Leicester orchestra to invite your reviewer to take the first horn chair. This was around forty years ago and it turned out to be the start of four decades of enjoyabable music making with “The Maestro” at the helm. At the start the orchestra was named “Leicester University Baroque Ensemble”, although it actually played much more Haydn and Mozart than music from the baroque period. We had lots of fun presenting concerts in many venues in Leicester and Leicestershire, some of which were not always of the highest technical standard. Our loyal audience seemed to support us no matter what. There was one winter concert where there was sheet ice on the roads outside and the internal church temperature made you wonder if it would form on the pews too (and the audience!)

You could learn much from Michael’s encyclopedic musical knowledge. At one “after show” party following a performance of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony Michael pointed out that it was very rare to have a piece that starts in A Major and ends in A minor. He then paused for only a brief moment before declaring that in fact he knew of no other orchestral piece that does this and only one chamber music work with this attribute. (sadly your reviewer is unable to recall what the named piece actually was).

During his orchestra’s rehearsals Michael did suffer from the problem of slowing down the tempo whenever he thought of something. There are many conductors for whom this would rarely be an inconvenience but Michael was a gent who was ALWAYS thinking of something. There were one or two local musicians who struggled with Michael’s slight technical deficiencies but there were many many more who loved his infectious enthusiasm (for life, not just music), his broad musical tastes (including a healthy interest in contemporary compositions, especially those by composers based in Leicestershire) his kindness and his lively witty sense of humour. Your reviewer is definitely in the latter camp. Leicestershire (and the world) is not quite same place following his death back in August 2019

Whilst grappling with the intractable problem of balancing an amateur orchestra his most used phrase was: “if you can’t hear the first violins then your neighbour is too loud”.

Maestro Michael Sackin (1942 - 2019)

Michael Sackin

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See also reviews of other seasons

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BreveEasy long note practicesoftware?You can download a free version of this product developed by Roger Swann from here.

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