|EMG Symphony Orchestra & Singers|
Sir Edward Elgar: "The Enigma Variations"
Conductor: Leo Geyer
Soloists: Héloïse West & Michael Graham
(Photograph: Paula Fernley Photography)
|First Violinist Jackie Baldwin|
tunes up the orchestra
Leo conducted in the first half, starting with a piece which is also enjoying an anniversary. In 1917 the 33 year old Arnold Bax (later Sir Arnold) was inspired by Tintagel Castle in Cornwall to compose the symphonic poem "Tintagel".
|Leader: Clare Smith Conductor: Leo Geyer|
How sweetly the strings wove his soulful tale. Clare Smith, as always, leading the way with her exemplary playing. In the background Catherine Clements' flutes, Kate Osbourne's oboes and Richard de la Rue's clarinets combined colourfully with the French horns, led by Sally Maya.
Imagining oneself on the cliffs, or struggling against the elements at sea, or just observing the scene from a comfortable fireside, the picture was equally thrilling - a classic EMG production.
|Alfie Pugh: Composer|
Fellow percussionists Tom Clemo, Steve Douglas, Gary Evans & Laura Hobbs were on their mettle for this unique opportunity to showcase the creative work of their illustrious colleague. From wind-chimes to bass drum, every telling note was perfectly delivered, with Tom Clemo taking charge of the biggest challenge of all - the clash cymbals.
The first of the four movement was the "Festival on the Quay", childhood memories of musicians and performers half-seen and half-heard through the forest of adult legs. The mysterious thud of the dragon-boat drum is provided by Ali Board - a frisson of terror in an atmosphere of light gaiety and holiday spirit. Every instrument joins the carnival, including Susan Sheratt's harp and Laura Hobbs' ride cymbals. A riot of colour.
|"Estuary at Sunset"|
(Photograph: Nigel Albright 1999)
"Estuary at Sunset" started where the festival left off, with strident drums, but soon mellowed into a combination of soothing woodwind: flutes giving way to French horns, delicate harp, and corruscating windchimes - courtesy of the faultless Tom Clemo, and a sweet oboe solo for Kate Osbourne. The last post went, quite naturally, to Brian Moore's muted trumpet, echoed by the tuba and trombones. In all, the sunset was a soft and reassuring experience washing over the senses like the light swell on the waters of the estuary. The most telling passage went to Clare Smith, whose sublime violin solo, lightly underscored by Ali Board's timpani, guided the golden evening sun under the horizon - with the very final farewell coming from Susan Sherratt on her harp.
the ancient workings of the
- depicted in music
Almost immediately the measured tones of "Cathedral" took our feelings in a new, and more immediate, direction. A very slow and loving reflection of the familiar surroundings we were all enjoying. Peace and tranquility were overlaid by a sense of contentment and joy. Every section was played with subdued measure, a moving demonstration of the marvellous control that the whole orchestra exercise over their sound. Congratulations to the percussion section for their very convincing imitation of the chiming of the Cathedral's astronomical clock, and its whirring mechanism. Sadly, and ironically, on this occasion there was no competition from the real thing.
Earthworks in Cathedral Close 1971
The theme extended beyond physical labour to a sense of general hustle and bustle in a busy city. Sarah Dean's saxophone solo made a lively link between percussive interludes, while the mild-mannered harp and flutes provided an even greater contrast.
Harp and double bass were pleasingly combined, with Isabelle Woollcott and the bass section rising to the occasion in style. Gary Evans, who recently joined the EMG for Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" at the April Concert, could be heard, together with Laura Hobbs and Steve Douglas adding some extra crash and rumble to the proceedings on the snare drums, bongos and other mysterious instruments hidden somewhere behind the pulpit.
The construction of each movement, and of the whole suite, was fascinating to follow and a joyously immersive experience throughout. Top notch!
|Conductor Leo Geyer and the EMG Orchestra|
applaud the composer of "Exeter Cityscapes"
|Farewell to the harp|
|and welcome to Associate Conductor|
EMG Orchestra & Singers
Sir Hubert Parry: "I Was Glad"
Trumpets: Brian Moore, Myles Taylor, John Bowden
To a mighty orchestral introduction, with organ accompaniment (by Exeter Cathedral Assistant Organist Stephen Tanner), a full choir launched into Sir Hubert Parry's triumphant anthem "I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord", his 1902 setting of Psalm 122. From behind the pulpit came the sweetly cherubic solo voice of soprano Héloïse West. Sadly missed at recent events owing to illness, Héloïse had saved herself for the night, and sang beautifully. The excitement was augmented by Gary Evans' snare, and also the extravagant fanfares of Brian Moore and the trumpet section - who received special praise from their colleague Tony Hindley at the end of the performance. A skilfull and masterful interpretation of Parry's prayer by conductor and orchestra - and a magnificent vocal ensemble of nearly seventy singers from local choirs and choral societies.
EMG Chairman, violist Rachel Wieck, also gave a presentation on the history of the Orchestra, from its humble beginnings to the present day, becoming, through many projects and collaborations, the high-calibre ensemble it now is. Rachel expressed her gratitude for all the work by so many amazing musicians over the years - and encouraged the continued support of this august organisation.
|Sir Edward Elgar: "Enigma Variations"|
Soprano & Tenor Soloists
Héloïse West & Michael Graham
This setting, however, was specially created for the Jubilee Concert by Leo himself. In addition to the orchestra and choir, Héloïse West & Michael Graham sang solo parts. Héloïse opened the account as Elgar's wife Caroline Alice (Variation I C.A.E.) and later Michael was very impressive as Elgar's friend Augustus Jaeger (Variation IX 'Nimrod').
Each variation was beautifully orchestrated. Tony Hindley had rejoined the trumpet section, and the percussion players were up one man - joined by the evening's star, Alfie Pugh. The solo voices and choir injected new excitement into a beloved classic - and there were some special instrumental solos as well.
|Lots of Percussion|
Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations
Ali Board (Timpani)
Tom Clemo, Alfie Pugh, Gary Evans
|Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations|
Leader & Conductor
Clare Smith & Leo Geyer
|A rare vintage|
gifts of wine for the 2017 Conductor and Associate Conductor
Leo Geyer & Tony Hindley
|and a posie for the ever-popular Leader|