Review: A friendly concert with a local twist

Bury St Edmunds Friendly Orchestra in a rehersal under conductor Chris Parsons

Bury St Edmunds Friendly Orchestra, The Apex, Sunday March 4

The Bury St Edmunds Friendly Orchestra started life over 10 years ago after some photo help and an article from the Bury Free Press.

Its aims to be an opportunity for mid-standard musicians to enjoy playing together and its upward evolution has led to public performances.

This concert’s music was a carefully chosen mix which showed off their well balanced abilities. The pieces covered proven classics from Rossini, Chabrier and David Sims.

Then to lift the atmosphere were modern works from Marquez and Latin America for our bodies to sway the winter away.

There was an outstanding solo by Catherine Howells, a student from Culford School whose playing of Edward Elgar’s cello concerto stirred the emotions.

Perhaps this comes best from a woman’s hand as Catherine drew the most moving resonance from her cello and extended notes long into the quiet space provided by the orchestra.

It easily earned her the encore and I’m sure our Edward would have been entranced by her rendition.

The other present to the orchestra and audience was from the young composer David Sims, 26. David is a friend of the conductor Chris Parsons and was invited to compose music inspired by the players’ happy experiences of Suffolk, covering Framlingham, Newmarket,Lavenham, Suffolk Coast and of course Bury St Edmunds.

They were perfectly identifiable and very well received with the big bonus of being a World Premier.

Now for the discussion bit as seen from the punter’s perspective: it was a pity the stage could not be raised at the back as from the stalls the woodwind could not be seen as their high standard and solo inputs deserved.

Brass: the volume from your instruments greatly exceeds that of any other instrument – you are really good players just be kinder to the strings.

The violins: you are also very good players but cannot compete with the brass so buy them a pint and seek their cooperation.

One group that stood out in an unassuming way was the trio of double basses. They were clear, accurate and provided a good footing for the orchestra to build on.

The whole orchestra exudes of giving their best and have developed a happy unity with their conductor.

Assuming another agreeable choice of music, and welcome affordable price, be sure to come to their next concert.

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