Review: Eastbourne Concert Orchestra, at the Town Hall, by Liz Gregory

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EASTBOURNE’S reputation apart from sunshine and sea is a love for music of all kinds particularly the classics.

With its orchestras, choirs, local musicians and a brand new music centre it is the envy of other towns along the south coast.

It can also boast of its very own orchestra formed 60 years ago and enjoying a Diamond Jubilee year which on December 6, a very cold night, came to a tumultuous end.

In his welcome speech Mitch Kerry, chairman of the Eastbourne Orchestral Society, remembered attending the very first concert.

Some of the music of which the present orchestra would be playing as a tribute to the founders, Doreen Waterhouse and her husband Captain Frank Waterhouse.

The programme began with the Haydn Symphony No, 104 in D one of the so called “London Symphonies” and the most ambitious of all in scale and depth of expression.

It is a measure of Haydn’s genius too that he was able to produce more than a hundred symphonies without repeating himself or growing stale. This one, his last, is formidable in its ability to charm with a simplicity and innocence plus the gravitas of a very mature musician.

This becomes apparent through the early movements from the opening Adagio and Allegro, a strong Menuetto, surrounding one of Haydn’s inventive trios, to a finale Spiritoso.

The “Sea Pictures” group of songs by Elgar for mezzo soprano and orchestra came to life vividly with the singing of Lucy Williams a delightful young singer and one of the best voices I have heard for a very long time coupled with a stage presence to be envied.

The “Ballet Egyptienne” by Luigini with its hauntingly familiar music one often recognises but may not put a name to will be even more familiar now we have heard it again.

Massenet’s “Scenes Pittoresques” equally familiar to those of us who remember the beginning of the “Golden Era” music in the 50s & 60s brought the nostalgic memories to an end.

However, it would have been impossible to finish without some carols. So with Adrian Shepherd conducting a delighted audience and orchestra together the Golden Jubilee Year came to a memorable and joyful end.