Extract of Report of the AAB
EXTRACT FROM THE FULL REPORT OF THE ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD:
LAUNCH CONCERT, “THE LARK ASCENDING”, May 2012 at St Edmundsbury Cathedral
The Board would like to commence this first Report by congratulating Leslie Olive on the conception and the realisation of the very ambitious project of founding a professional orchestra for Suffolk. The concert programme and the newsletter ‘The Lark’ both provide evidence of how deeply-layered the project is already, with information about sponsorship, community events and the many different ways in which support, at a variety of levels, is being attracted and harnessed.
The programme of five works was, from the listener’s point of view, very well-designed and satisfying. There was wide variety of mood and technique and yet the bringing together of the four works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten gave the evening a natural coherence. The movement by John Adams made an arresting opening and, while providing contrast, fitted very well with the rest of the programme.
The inclusion of the Vaughan Williams ‘Concerto Grosso’, with its parts for young string players, was a brilliant idea. The music is little known but very much worth hearing. It linked the first appearance of the orchestra with work that had already been done in schools and brought the young people themselves, and no doubt their parents, into the very heart of the concert. It was difficult, at least for many of the audience, to see and to hear the players during the performance but perhaps there was no other way of seating them.
The three soloists were outstandingly good. Thomas Gould beautifully under-played the opening of ‘The Lark Ascending’ with a real piano dynamic, though was always sufficiently commanding in his exposition of the solo line. Both tenor and horn-player gave exceptionally distinguished accounts of the Britten ‘Serenade’. They were able to display all the virtuosity required for their respective roles but also conveyed real insight into the dramatic and expressive depths of this extraordinary music. The final horn solo, played from the east end, was utterly haunting. The orchestral players were also of very high calibre. The leader was clearly experienced and very capable.
There were balance problems in the Cathedral at times. These were most obvious in ‘The Lark Ascending’, especially in a passage for horn and violin solo. Balance problems were also present in the John Adams piece. Here they resulted in a lack of clarity in the projection of the structure of the piece. The addition of new elements to the minimalist patterns that may have been established at any one point, and changes in those existing patterns, demand careful calculation if the composer’s argument is to be projected coherently.
No doubt there remains much to do in order to reach a position where the future of the orchestra is assured, even in the relatively short term. For a longer perspective, it will probably need sufficient resources to finance professional involvement in the never-ending business of fund-raising, public relations, administration and other matters. However, a remarkable start has been made and the success of the first concert may be seen as both an inspiring climax to the first phase of the orchestra’s existence and a spur to the daunting tasks that lie ahead.