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Launch Concert – Review by Edward Clark

Review by Edward Clark, Musical Opinion

Naming a brand new orchestra by this title might be stating the obvious but the founder conductor, Michael Young, is clearly intent on trying to change his audience’s perceptions of what humanity in our modern world actually means.

In his noble quest he was assisted by, as guest speaker, Francesca Martinez, whose reputation for “wobbly” comedy (she has mild cerebral palsy) and for inspirational public speaking, has set a new tone of what adopting decency in a morally corrupt world actually entails. Her speech to the audience focused on a need to move away from consumerism in favour of protecting our climate which would, with a consequent sense of global (achieved through our individual effort) responsibility, lead to a better, kinder world. She offered the opportunity for everyone to adopt a consequent change in values for the benefit of our modern age.

Noble sentiments indeed and the audience cheered her to the echo. After all each member was there as a donor to the creation of the orchestra and this was the showcasing of all the hard work leading up to the concert.

On with the music. Beethoven naturally, a great (the greatest in music anyway) humanist although not necessarily a great human being in his intercourse with fellow humans!

The Leonora Overture No. 3 possessed a natural flow and plenty of power. To end we heard that paean to the natural world so beloved by Beethoven, his Sixth Symphony “The Pastoral”, a firm favourite and made more so in this affectionate performance which allowed time for the orchestra principals to showcase their musicianship in plenty of ways. The strings were responsive and alert throughout. There was nothing of the so-called “authentic” brigade about this playing and so it came as a fond reminder of past performances by the giants of the rostrum.

In between came two less familiar but equally beautiful metaphors for a truly human response to external forces: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Villa-Lobos in which the composer used his knowledge of European music to illustrate his Brazilian heritage of teaming cities and huge tropical forests.

Man’s inhumanity to man followed with the second movement from Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Song. The composer suffered great personal loss to German concentration camps but was able to contend Germany had also produced Bach, Schubert, Strauss and, of course, Beethoven as well. His sorrow was possibly due to how to reconcile such divergences in a single nation.       

In both April Fredrick, soprano, was the touching soloist.

A final word about Michael Young, the inspirer of this concert and future project; he gives every sign of being a thoroughly complete human being, having a deft way with his audience and a deeply serious approach to great music. How come then that the venerable CBSO turns, for its next Chief Conductor, to a foreign female conductor of similar age with an unpronounceable name and of totally unknown reputation to British audiences, having only conducted the CBSO twice? Beecham was scathing about this type of behaviour. What kind of signal does her appointment send to maestro Young and his British contemporaries?  


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