Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra

Shrewsbury Orchestral Society

Wednesday 23rd April 2008 in the Alington Hall, Shrewsbury School

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra chose an appropriate format for their concert in Shrewsbury School’s Alington Hall for St George’s Day. Opening with a flourish in Rossini’s Overture “Semiramide”, the programme swung into music from “Henry V” by Walton, which Sir Laurence Olivier billed the most wonderful he had ever heard for a film. Nor could I disagree with such an eminent sentiment.

Moreover, it was made more memorable by the narration of Shakespeare’s stirring encouragement to St George, by the accomplished Richard Goulding.
A classical actor of enormous potential, Richard gave a resounding personal interpretation of the immortal words “For Harry! England and St George!” which was glorious to take in with such a sympathetic musical background.

It was a ringing endorsement of a saint’s day to be remembered with flourish and flair, especially with the finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 in C Minor. The orchestra performed under the baton of John Moore with a good deal of swagger, musical correctness and discipline.

© Gordon Riley (reproduced by kind permission)

Review - Wednesday 3rd December 2008 in the Alington Hall, Shrewsbury School

If practice, skill and enthusiasm are the recipe for continued improvement, Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra demonstrated the inevitable result last night in Shrewsbury School’s Alington Hall. Under the persuasive and demonstrative baton of John Moore they reached new heights in an upward curve of rewarding performances. And a more searching examination could not have been set.

Haydn’s Symphony No 94, not surprisingly subtitled the “Surprise”, was the first test and the result was sublime. I cannot remember when I heard the Minuet sequence played so beautifully. And, if this was not rich enough, the Saint-Saëns symphonic poem, Danse Macabre, sent shivers down most spines in an imaginative rendering. But there was even more to rejoice over in the second period.
Although not always a great fan of Mahler, the performance of his Symphony No 1 in D added greatly to what had gone before, judging by the reception of the audience. They were as delighted as I was and, like me, many never dreamed of hearing such a polished performance in a Shrewsbury auditorium by so many gifted county players.

I don’t usually like to go overboard with superlatives, but even established habits must give way to reason sometimes. This performance surely called for it.

© Gordon Riley (reproduced by kind permission)

Review - Wednesday 11th March 2009 in Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra exuded confidence and co-ordination under the baton of John Moore and led by Paul Bramwell on Wednesday night. The musicians exploited to the full the grand surroundings, but variable acoustics, of Shrewsbury’s ancient Abbey Church, in admittedly chilly surroundings for the sizeable audience.

The exuberant Bizet Suite No 2 from “L’Arlésienne” was an excellent curtain-raiser, with the final of the four movements, “Farandole”, raising great expectations that were eminently fulfilled in the rest of the evening. The orchestra then swung into Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy where it brought the best out of the memorable love themes.
Ralph Vaughan Williams’s stunningly beautiful and evocative “A London Symphony” followed, in which he contrived to capture the sounds of the city where he lived for so long that he was proud to call himself a Londoner, although he was born in rural Gloucestershire.

If music is communication and a work of art without words, Vaughan Williams certainly demonstrated this in an epic composition which conjured up the street calls and sounds of the bustling market places of the capital city, and the gently lapping waters of the Thames, to perfection.

© Gordon Riley (reproduced by kind permission)

Review - Wednesday 17th June 2009 in Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra shuffled the set for a good hand to entertain a discerning audience in Shrewsbury Abbey Church on Wednesday night, choosing three grand composers and one seldom heard for the purpose.

Admittedly I was a bit nonplussed by Bryan Kelly’s overture Shrewsbury Festival which the Orchestra commissioned for its centenary, but there could be no confusion about Respighi’s mindset for his Suite “Gli Uccalli” (“The Birds”) with several feathered friends brought elegantly to life.

Beethoven’s Symphony No 4 in B flat, regarded by some as rather strait-laced, was an interesting finale, but for me the highlight of the evening was Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, especially the solo work of the local lad done good, Greg McEwan, whose silvery mastery soared to the rafters of an honourable building where the acoustics can vary dramatically.

Conductor John Moore and leader Paul Bramwell skilfully brought this orchestra another firm step along its recent revival an whets the appetite for many more good performances to come.

© Gordon Riley (reproduced by kind permission)