The Bardi and a Young Person’s Guide to the Symphony Orchestra!

A fantastic family friendly afternoon concert took place at De Montfort Hall on Sunday 15th March featuring a feast of popular classical and film music with Guest Conductor Richard Laing and young local Tuba soloist Stephen Calow. To take take the audience through the instruments of the symphony orchestra, the afternoon was hosted and narrated by the very popular presenter and animateur Tom Redmond from BBC Radio 3.

The concert included performances of Benjamin Britten’s brilliant Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and George Kleinsinger‘s Tubby the Tuba, both with Tom as our narrator. Two wonderful musical masterpieces forthe many youngsters in the audience!
Other pieces included the Overture to Beauty and the Beast, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, Festive Overture and Waltz No.2 by Shostakovich, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony First Movement and the Berceuse and Finale from Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

A Bardi Workshop day on Elgar’s First Symphony!

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Claus Efland spent Saturday 15th February at Holy Trinity Church, Regent Road in Leicester taking part in a workshop rehearsing Elgar’s magnificent First Symphony. After the mid afternoon break invited guests arrived to hear a play-through of the entire work.
As the evening dinner was being prepared downstairs the Orchestra and guests gathered upstairs in the newly refurbished Holy Trinity to watch performances of the Bardi at De Montfort Hall over recent seasons on the big film screen.
At 7pm all then went downstairs and were seated at tables and were treated to a superb meal in the brilliant surroundings.
A day to repeat in the future for sure!

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!

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