Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Concert

We went to a great concert at the Cathedral yesterday evening.  The Lancaster University Music Society presented a varied programme featuring a number of ensembles as well as the full orchestra.

The programme was varied too, from the sublime, Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium, to (frankly) the cheap: Lloyd Webber's Till I Hear You Sing.  And yes, that is a comment about my taste, but not just my taste: I maintain there is something inherently superior about the one compared to the other, just as Romeo and Juliet is better than Coronation Street, and not merely because I prefer one to the other.  However, Noel Coward was right about cheap music, of course.... But I digress.

The String Orchestra opened the proceedings with the third Brandenburg, which by and  large went well, though the way it passes the melody around the sections did rather expose those that were less confident or competent, and intonation was occasionally suspect.

The choir were on next, and made a good noise, with a set ranging from Handel's And the Glory of the Lord to a version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas via a couple of Rutter carols and the magnificent Victoria motet.

Last up before the interval were the Brass Band.  I'm not a huge Brass Band fan, but I was very impressed by their playing: very tight, lots of dynamic control and (apart from the unfortunate straying into Lloyd Webber territory) a very interesting and enjoyable programme.

After a welcome break for wine and cheese (I had had to come straight from work without eating, so I wolfed far more than my share of cheese and biscuits) the Wind Band were on.  Again the programme was mixed, with A Cowboy Christmas followed by Purcell's famous Rondeau, and so on.  Again, the playing was good and captured the varying moods of the different pieces well.

Then the full Orchestra took to the stage, and after a spirited performance of Copland's Hoedown, played extracts from Pictures at an Exhibition.  Again the skill and flexibility of the musicians was demonstrated, with the light, deft touches of the Ballet of Unhatched Chicks contrasting with the magnificent finale: the Great Gates of Kiev.

Finally we sang some carols; and what a treat that was: with a choir and orchestra to lead us, complete with the traditional descants.

So Anna, her mum, Charlie, Dominique and I had a great evening out and left very impressed at the standard of musicianship of so many of the students.

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