Bardi Young Musician 2020 CONCERT

The annual Bardi Young Musician concert series goes from strength to strength. These concerts are intended
to encourage emerging and talented young soloists by giving them a platform on which to perform with a full
symphony orchestra.

This year’s concert took place on Sunday 26th January at 3pm in the main concert hall of English Martyrs’ Catholic School in Leicester. The Bardi Young Musician 2020 is Flautist Szymon Mosciszko.

Bardi Symphony Orchestra
Guest Conductor – Paul Hilliam

Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture “Fingal’s Cave”
Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 
Chaminade Concertino for Flute and Orchestra
Sibelius Valse Triste 
Haydn Symphony No.101 “The Clock” 

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Bardi Symphony Orchestra

Claus Efland – Conductor    Natalia Lomeiko – Violin

De Montfort Hall,  Leicester

Sunday December 1st 3pm


Concert Review by Neil Crutchley

There was a time I remember, when every concert held in the De Montfort Hall began with the National Anthem. Many people find that surprising in the 21st century, but for non-professional orchestras, it served a very useful purpose beyond being a patriotic gesture; it gave the players an opportunity to “warm up”.

Since the anthem’s demise, the warming up is often done in the opening bars of the first item on the programme, when exposed string or brass entries could be a less than perfect, to say the least.

I was reminded of this when listening to the first bars of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel overture, not because it was in any way deficient; quite the reverse, it was splendid. The sound and weight of tone the horns produced, followed by the glowing string entry was not only extremely impressive, it was also beautiful. I’ve never before heard the opening of this piece played with such style and affection. It got the overture off to a magical start and happily the rest of the concert lived up to the standard set in these first few bars.

The pacing and phrasing of the overture were superbly judged, which is not always the case with a work where the melodies come so fast and tempi change so frequently, but in this account the Bardi players responded with such elegance that it brought a smile to the face.

Natalia Lomeiko was the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and along with the orchestra gave us a memorable performance. She has formidable technique and clear, full and incisive tone, which are allied to an admirable musical perception. Her Russian background no doubt helped to bring out the lyrical sweetness and underlying Slavonic yearning of Tchaikovsky’s sweeping melodies. There was a sense of unforced enjoyment in her playing that transmitted itself to the listener. She was aided by a superbly graded and nuanced accompaniment from the orchestra, which never once overwhelmed her.

The sweep and build-up of tension in the as the first movement’s main theme was developed had a true sense of excitement and after a lyrical and heartfelt account of the Andante, featuring some outstanding woodwind playing, the finale burst onto the scene with tremendous verve and danced along with an infectious lilt in the rhythm.

Dvorak’s 7th Symphony is undoubtedly one of his finest. It is also arguably his most challenging for the interpreter, who needs to balance the various elements with skill and insight for the work to have full effect. The influence of Brahms is evident in its seriousness of purpose, yet every bar displays the inimitable fingerprints of the Czech master and the scherzo is one of the most infectiously rhythmic and dynamic movements in all the composer’s nine symphonies.

The first movement begins in a tense fragmentary manner, which gradually builds to a powerful climax, but this is then counterbalanced by an attractively lyrical descending second theme. It is the interplay of these themes that gives this movement its impetus. Claus Efland ensured that melodic, dynamic and rhythmic contrasts received full weight and imbued the whole with a strong sense of momentum; skilfully grading dynamics and ensuring that, as the composer directs, the biggest climax, with its striking off-beat accents, came just before the quiet close.

Again, in the slow movement, the conductor manged to achieve an impressive balance between the appealing lyricism and the darker elements that surface as the movement progresses and in the scherzo he didn’t “jab” at the rhythmic opening melody but let it unfold naturally, making its fortissimo return all the more effective.

In unsympathetic hands the finale of this symphony can sometimes seem rather episodic, but in Efland’s hands it proved to be the crowning glory of a compelling performance. Once more the pacing, dynamic contrast and rhythmic incisiveness were impeccable. Efland kept tight a rein, yet achieved a superb sense of spontaneity: gathering momentum and increasing tension (but wisely not the speed) to the powerful closing bars, which were punched home with a thrilling sense of finality. Magnificent!

No matter how many times I hear the Bardi (and I was at the first concert) I still marvel at the standard of playing it achieves and as I hope I’ve conveyed, this concert showed the orchestra on top form with superb playing from all departments. The relatively small audience thundered its approval, but it deserved a full house. We are lucky to have so fine an orchestra in Leicester.



Bardi Wind Christmas Festival 2019

A Feast of Words and Music indeed! The annual Bardi Wind Christmas Festival took place at Holy Trinity Church on Regent Road in Leicester on Saturday 21st December. The Bardi Wind Orchestra was conducted by Music Director David Calow with the usual team of reader John Florance, Soprano Nicky Bingham and compère Colin Blackler. The large and enthusiastic audience heard many Christmas favourites including Christmas Festival, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, In The Bleak Midwinter, Sleigh Ride, Suite from Disney’s Frozen and of course White Christmas!  The concert ended with the audience singing along to Wizard’s I wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day.

David Calow                                                                 Colin Blackler

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is the highlight of the December concert at De Montfort Hall.

Popular concert hall favourites featured in the Bardi’s second concert of the season on Sunday 1st December at De Montfort Hall in Leicester. The magical overture to Hansel and Gretel was followed by Tchaikovsky’s powerful Violin Concerto with rising star Natalia Lomeiko as the stunning soloist. Dvorák’s seventh symphony, a work featuring the composer’s Bohemian melodies, completed the concert in style under the baton of conductor Claus Efland.

The Bardi support students at the Leicester Grammar School Concert “Voyage Through the Ages”.


A “Voyage Through the Ages” concert showcased the talents of LGS students both as concerto soloists and as guest members of the Bardi Symphony Orchestra.

The concert took place on Saturday 26th October at LGS in the St Nicholas Hall and included Beethoven Egmont overture, Glazunov Saxophone and Mendelssohn Violin concerto movements, Haydn Symphony No.101 2nd movement, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Minuet and Trio, Bradenburg Concerto No.5 Finale and suites from Star Wars, Psycho and Wicked.


Austrian Connections – Leicester Concert-goer Review

Austrian Connections

Bardi Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Claus Efland

Bardi Wind Soloists

Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante for winds

Bruckner – Symphony No.4 in Eb “Romantic”

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Sunday 6th October 3.30pm

One of the incidental pleasures of attending Bardi concerts is that this listener at

least becomes re- acquainted with music that he cherished both live and on

record in his youth, but which seems to have almost disappeared from concert

programmes more recently. Not long ago there was Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.

Then one of my first LPS in the early 1950’s was of Karajan and the Philharmonia

performing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik coupled with Sinfonia Concertante for Winds

K297b, the latter performed by the wind stars of the orchestra of that time,

Walton, Sutcliffe, James and last and certainly not least Dennis Brain. I was told by

some scholars that the work was of doubtful origin but I didn’t believe it then and

I don’t believe it now. Music of such wit, elegance, and effortless beauty has

always seemed to me quite clearly to have the imprint of the master.

This performance brought that all back to me. It is true that there was a rather

reticent start. The orchestra was a mite stiff in its phrasing and the soloists

struggled to emerge. It all sounded more like a symphony than a concerto and

one wondered whether the body of strings was slightly too large. Perhaps it is the

scoring or perhaps it was that all concerned took time to ease themselves into the

work but by the wonderful slow movement things took off. The quartet emerged

as players of personality and this was Mozart at his divine best as was the case in

the virtuosity demanded of the players in the variations of the third movement.

These demands were fully met so that my memories of the 1950’s became even

more hazy than they were in the first instance and it was an outright pleasure to

hear how Linda Backhouse, Oboe, Andrew Piper, Clarinet ,Mark Penny, Horn and

Ceri Beaumont, Bassoon relished the virtuosic opportunities given them.

And then from gambolling in the sunny landscape of this work, the players were

faced with ascending the Everest that is Bruckner’s huge Symphony No.4

(Romantic). To be frank, one seriously worried for the safety of the climbers. The

idea that a largely amateur group of limited symphonic size could do justice to

this composer where sometimes even crack professional orchestras fail seemed

optimistic in the extreme.

Such feelings were not without foundation. Firstly, in certain aspects, size does

matter in Bruckner. All the stuff about ‘cathedrals of sound’ has some truth and

that is achieved by building upwards and ,however manfully the double basses

sawed away, four of them to my ear simply could not provide that foundation.

Also, and not surprisingly, the strings as a whole were communicating signs of

metal fatigue by the time they reached the final movement, which in any case, as

quite often is the case with this composer, is not a fully satisfying crowning of

what has gone before.

However, as so often is the case, what might be regarded as an impediment to

enjoyment was not so. The smaller size of the ensemble emphasised that

Bruckner at least knows that he is not writing for organ but for an orchestra with

its wider range of colours. The conductor brought out at times, particularly in the

cellos and the woodwind, the Schubertian elements in the symphony which so

often disappear in the welter of ear bursting sound. Mind you there was plenty of

that since the brass were in fine form starting from the first horn, who was only

just off soloist duty in the Mozart and was then faced with his own Everest at the

opening of the symphony, so important in the setting of the mood of the work. It

was a test in which he triumphed.

But then there were many felicities in this performance, not least the clear

intention of Claus Efland to keep things moving. One the best performances of

this symphony I have heard came in this year’s Proms from the Philharmonia

under its chief conductor Salonen (who incidentally comes to Leicester this

season) and it was so because some of speeds would have shocked the purists

who believe that Bruckner is one comatose meditation and the slower he is

played the deeper is the interpretation. Both these conductors showed just what

is missed in the music when played like that. The scoring is infinitely more various

and more lively than it often seems in the way it is performed and this was

communicated powerfully on this occasion.

So, in the end, though unsurprisingly not quite as successful as the orchestra’s

performances of Strauss and Nielsen, it seemed a journey well worth the taking,

particularly since there seems a severe shortage of Bruckner in the Midlands.

The Bardi started the new DMH Season with Mozart and Bruckner!

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra started the new season at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall with a concert of works by Mozart and Bruckner in “Austrian Connections”.

The Orchestra’s own wind soloists began the concert with Mozart’s sublime Concertante for Winds and orchestra, with the towering “Romantic” fourth symphony by Bruckner as a contrast in the second half

A Pre-concert talk at 2.30pm was hosted by John Florance and included contributions from Bardi Symphony Orchestra conductor Claus Efland and Bardi Wind Orchestra conductor David Calow. The Symphony Orchestra’s principal horn Mark Penny also demonstrated the instrument including a “horn” made from a hosepipe and funnel!

Photos by Robert Calow show the Bardi’s own Wind Soloists rehearsing the Mozart in St Nicholas Hall, Leicester Grammar School.

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra concludes ‘Gigs in the Gardens’ with a Movie and Musicals spectacular!

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra under their Music Director Claus Efland concluded the De Montfort Hall “Gigs in the Gardens” concert series in style with a superb concert of music from the Stage and Big Screen. Suites from Les Miserables, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and The Sound of Music contrasted with big screen hits including The Big Country, Gabriel’s Oboe, The Pink Panther, Moon River, James Bond, Out of Africa, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars. There was something for everyone who attended!

The concert, which saw an enthusiastic audience of over 1750 including many families and youngsters, ended with a firework finale to a selection of John Williams’ greatest hits; Star Wars, Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, ET and Harry Potter!

All photographs © Matt Short Photography
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a: West Bridgford, Nottingham

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Bardi Wind Orchestra Bradgate Proms 2019


The Bardi Wind Orchestra under the baton of Music Director David Calow performed at the 2019 Bradgate Proms on Saturday August 17th to another capacity audience.  This was the Wind Orchestra’s fourth appearance at the Bradgate Proms and after the flag-waving “Last Night of the Proms” the finale to the concert was The Dam Busters with fireworks lighting up the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s castle.

Regular soloists soprano Jenny Saunders and tenor David Morris sang classics and popular standards including Summertime, My Heart Will Go On, Nessun Dorma and Come Fly with Me!  Jenny and David then joined each other in A Whole New World from Disney’s Aladdin and a moving performance of Time to say Goodbye.

The whole evening was again expertly compèred by Colin Blackler.

Photography: © John Osborn




Northern Rhapsodies – Leicester Concert Goers Review

There were three reasons that I found this concert irresistible. Firstly, it featured Katya Apekisheva, a very fine pianist who has over the years been a frequent visitor to Leicester but mostly as a chamber music recitalist. Here was a chance to enjoy her prodigious talents again but as a concerto soloist in a late work by Rachmaninoff which I had not heard live for many years.

Secondly, there was a performance of a Nielsen symphony in DMH which has been  hardly a frequent event.  ( I can recall only one performance in recent years, that by the Philharmonia and Paavo Jarvi of the first symphony). Following on from that, the third reason consisted of memories from the 1960’s when I and my soon to be wife were knocked sideways by the power of these symphonies, then enjoying an introduction to London  similar but, alas, not so long lasting, as the Mahler revolution. And then many years later  there was the young Rattle in Birmingham doing the complete cycle of the symphonies which re-inforced my feeling that this was one of the great symphonic  cycles of the 20th century, or for that matter any other century . Why, oh why, I wondered , had I missed the early parts of the Bardi Cycle?

Well, the answer to that was quite simple. I questioned whether a mainly amateur orchestra could possibly meet the colossal orchestral challenges of these works, particularly Symphonies 4 and 5. That was compounded by having a few months ago heard The Inextinguishable played by the LSO and Rattle in performance which literally stunned a Barbican audience into silence for a moment or two so overwhelming was it.  Then, I remembered what a friend of acute musical intelligence had said to me about the quality of the Bardi  performances of this music. So, the only answer was to go and hear for myself.  The result of that was that I wished that I had taken notice much earlier to what he said.

Not that in the first piece played the concert seemed about to be particularly revelatory. True, it was a delight to be re-acquainted with Sibelius’ Karelia Suite which was one of the first records that I possessed as a youth and which these days, like a lot of music in Suite form, tends to be a rarity in the face of sterner musical expression. There was much in this performance which did justice to the work. Particularly notable was the rich sound that the strings managed to conjure up in Ballade, totally worthy of any professional ensemble. Similarly the nuanced phrasing and sound of the horns  at the beginning of the Intermezzo  were extremely impressive, particularly when playing from cold as it were and as a whole the performance certainly delivered the essence of the work, without perhaps achieving quite the swagger and bounce some of it ideally requires.


Then came Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and here the music making moved onto a different level. The pianist and the orchestra delivered a performance that can only be described as scintillating. Indeed, I felt I had not heard a better or more exciting interpretation of the work.  It highlighted how the late works of this composer should sound compared to the more famous works he wrote before he went into exile. Compositions like The Symphonic Dances , after very tepid critical reviews when they first saw the light of day,  are now receiving  the attention they deserve, as music which set off in a different direction to the romantic sound world so associated with the composer. Of course, these Variations always received approval of sorts because of the gorgeous melody in a middle variation and for which there is often the tendency to wait impatiently for its arrival. This ignores elsewhere the wealth of wit , the passages in which brittle colours predominate and for which absolute clarity is required from the performers.  Of course, being Rachmaninoff , often the virtuosity demanded of the pianist is phenomenal. Anyone knowing the pianist on this occasion could guess that those demands would be met in spades and so they were. However, the many delightful moments in the more reflective parts of the work were also fully presented and one finished by wondering whether one had ever heard the clarity of the DMH instrument used to better effect. The performance had a truly pristine quality which revealed a glittering sound world quite unlike for instance what happens when the music is played on the ubiquitous Steinways which so tend to dominate our concert halls. It was overall a wonderfully  invigorating musical experience.

One last thing in regard the above. I was so impressed by the pianist having the score in front of her. It occurred to me to wonder why concert practice in the last century became locked into the virtue of playing entirely from memory and I remembered the story of Sir Adrian Boult, told to me by a friend who as a lad was present  at his rehearsal of a youth orchestra . When the great man was asked why he conducted from a score back came the reply, ‘ Because I can read one!’

And so to the climax of the concert, a performance of Nielsen’s mighty 5th Symphony. The previous evening, not having heard the symphony for some years, I played a disc of it being performed by a Finnish orchestra. I listened to the characteristics of the composer’s late style, huge outbursts of sound with strings playing in several sections at the top of the range and producing what I have come to think as the edginess of the sound produced by electrical discharges and which is so extraordinarily expressive of colossal energy. Then, there are the many passages that demand to be played at colossal speed. In addition, the whole orchestra needs to produce at times another characteristic Nielson sound which forever reminds me somehow of the outdoors and the openness of the Scandinavian sky. Lastly, in this particular symphony, there is the titanic battle between orchestra and side drum which, if not delivered with complete musical conviction, can teeter slightly on the brink of the crudely obvious. Could a largely amateur orchestra of the size of the Bardi, rather fewer in number I would think than that routinely fielded by a London orchestra in this music, really do justice to this work?


Well, they most certainly did. All the above was in this performance. Of course, there was occasionally the sense of strain. For instance, the LSO delivered the frantic start of the last movement of The Inextinguishable almost as if it was a walk in the park. However, that very sense of strain in its own way rather added to the delivery of the titanic things in the symphony and at the end one could only marvel at the hours of rehearsal which had obviously  gone into the delivery of something with this impact. This is music close to Claus Efland’s heart as was clear from his amusing address before the performance, even though there were moments when I thought him a little too intent on warning the audience of the perils ahead, notably about there being supposedly no tunes! There is no doubt, though, that he is a formidable conductor and interpreter of this music and the Bardi are very lucky to have his power to persuade and inspire musicians to play out of their skins. I look forward to the cycle being brought to a completion in the not too distant future.