LIVE REVIEW: Todmorden Summer Orchestra, St Mary’s Church Todmorden, 1st September 2018

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This concert was given by a small string orchestra, with players from local orchestras, plus soloists Carisse White and Lily Morgan, with conductor Antony Brannick and leader Andrew Rostron. It opened, somewhat uncertainly, with Mozart’s “A little night music” (K525). Elgar’s “Serenade for String Orchestra”(op 20), an early piece but typically Elgar in its peaceful, spacious feel, followed.

J S Bach’s “Suite no 2 in B minor” (BWV 1067) featured Carisse White on the flute, which added spice to the strings of the orchestra. She shone in this often lively, intricate piece.
Local composer Tim Benjamin is on a roll. His beautiful “Summer’s End (Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings)” had its world premiere after the break. The tenor horn, sensitively played by Lily Morgan, seemed to portray the warmth of summer, while the orchestra at times warned of winter to come.

The last piece, Grieg’s Holberg Suite, despite the composer’s own description of it as “in the old style” seems to this reviewer as fresh as paint and full of life and energy. The orchestra did it justice and a delighted audience got the Mozart as an encore.

The money raised goes towards fresh water and better sanitation for Nyabitocho, Tanzania, with which St Mary’s church is linked.

Will we hear this orchestra again? As the programme notes say, all traditions start with a one-off.