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REVIEW: Leamington Chamber Orchestra

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

Watching an orchestra grow is a most satisfying occupation. Leamington Chamber Orchestra’s growth and development under conductor Richard Laing’s leadership, and his insistence his players have fun, is certainly one of the more pleasing musical progressions deserving a special recognition.

Key personnel continue to excel – Alison Cooley (flute) in the opening movement of Haydn’s ‘Le Soir’ Symphony No 8; Eleanor Robson (violin and leader) John Hemmings (bass) and David Whittaker (cello) in later movements.

Laing’s success in growing the talents and confidence of players extends to persuading and encouraging individuals to emerge as soloists. Daniel Sanford-Casey stole the limelight with a stunning performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, given a standing ovation by many in the larger than usual audience, clearly recognising the orchestra’s progress. Whittaker with Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, and Robson and Dickson (viola) with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante will feature during this concert season. Casey’s well-balanced performance received the accolades of “absolutely superb” and “marvellous” during the interval. The leisurely pace of the adagio most certainly heightened the anticipation of the upcoming rondo.

Charles Ives’ ‘The Unanswered Question’ and Bizet’s Symphony in C gave Laing the chance to demonstrate innovation and have fun – in the Ives he conducted a small wind section on stage behind the strings and with the Bizet he rekindled an interest which had been killed when forced to play the piece in a rather bad school orchestra!! He had fun and, so too, did Diana Lewis and Malcolm Rowson with their oboe contributions. This witty piece ended a cracking start to the season.

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