North Cheshire Wind Orchestra
Royal Northern College of Music, Saturday 2nd November 2013, 7.30 pm
- Conductor - Tom Newall
- Cello - Michelle So
- Philip Sparke - Overture for a Great City
- Akira Miyoshi - Secret Rites
- Adam Gorb - Concerto for Cello and Wind Ensemble Bojhangaparitta [World Premiere]
- Derek Bourgeois - Green Dragon Overture
- John Barnes Chance - Variations on a Korean Folk Song
- Maurice Ravel - Bolero
The Studio Theatre, otherwise known as The Black Box, is not the ideal venue for a wind orchestra. Seating just over one hundred, it is better suited for small scale chamber music or intimate opera, its dry acoustic gives no help to an ensemble. However, the North Cheshire Wind Orchestra started their season with a splendidly varied programme, two overtures by those experienced writers for wind and brass, Philip Sparke and Derek Bourgeois, a traditional set of variations from a tried and tested American composer John Barnes Chance, a cutting edge Japanese work, the world premiere of a cello concerto by Adam Gorb and Ravel's Bolero. Many congratulations are due to the conductor and orchestra for tackling so tough a programme so early in the season.
In that tiny acoustic I could not face the second half, so missed the Bourgeois, Chance and Ravel, but the first half was full of interest. Philip Sparke is of course the doyen of British composers for bands, with literally hundreds of original works and arrangements for wind and brass band. This Overture was commissioned the Tamana Girls High School and premiered in January 2010, and can be viewed and heard on YouTube:
This was a high pressured performance, very exciting but without much variety of dynamics. It is hard to achieve lightness in this studio, but moments of relaxation throw the energetic sections into relief; with the wind band we show more by doing less, and the excitement of the genre is occasioned not by the noise factor, but by crescendi (and diminuedndi) and variety of scoring.
I first came across the Miyoshi at a WASBE conference years ago, and was delighted to get it published, though I was unable to get Miyoshi to expand this very exciting work into something more substantial. Uncompromisingly contemporary, Tom Newall tackled its rhythmic and technical problems with panache, the orchestra responded magnificently and it was well received.
The Gorb was a commission by a member of the orchestra, Donal Flynn, in memory of his wife. It is scored for solo cello and a chamber wind ensemble, orchestral winds and brass with Timpani and four percussion, but even this light scoring was on occasion too heavy for the very expert soloist, Michelle So. Again, the acoustic did not help her, as the sound was too integrated with the orchestra which of course was sitting on top of the soloist and the audience.
Subtitled Bojhangaparitta, it takes inspiration from the Buddhist chant of that name, and the text of the Bojhangaparitta sets out the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, a set of mental states that individuals need to attain in their journey towards Enlightenment or Nirvana. The work lasts about twenty minutes and is in three sections. I need to hear the work again to be able to appreciate it. This is the Adam Gorb of Farewell, not Yiddish Dances, and the result is an intensely argued lyrical piece of great beauty, which needs more performances and a recording as soon as possible.
Tim Reynish 4th November