Ewan Metcalfe – Bardi Young Musician 2024

6th November 2023

The Bardi are delighted to announce that the winner of Bardi Young Musician 2024 is 17 year old clarinettist, Ewan Metcalfe.

An audition panel consisting of Robert Calow, Bardi Orchestra Manager, Lois Clark Principal Second Violin and Paul Hilliam, Guest Conductor, met at the end of October to hear four selected candidates to decide who would become Bardi Young Musician 2024. The standard was once again very high with a range of orchestral instruments and the panel had some lengthy deliberations to make before deciding on the winner. 

In the event they made a unanimous choice, the clear winner was clarinetist Ewan Metcalfe from Rearsby who is in the Sixth Form at Ratcliffe College. Ewan has been playing the clarinet for ten years and he currently studies with Christine Taylor. He is the third clarinetist to have won the Young Musician accolade since the competition was first held in 2012. 

The audition panel always give feedback to all the competing candidates and Ewan was told ‘The technical demands [of his chosen audition piece] are considerable and you have obviously worked hard to get on top of that. You also have a really nice tone and a good range of dynamics. Best of all, you invested lots of personality in your performance

Concert goers are in for a real treat when Ewan performs with the Orchestra on Saturday 27th January, at Holy Trinity Church, Leicester.  He will be playing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in a programme which also includes a performance of Beethoven Symphony No 2. You can book tickets for the concert here.

Ewan Metcalfe, clarinet; the audition panel

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John Williams a hit at De Montfort Hall

10th October 2023

The Force really was with the Bardi Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon when they played to the largest Bardi concert audience seen for ten years.

The Bardi’s Celebration of John Williams ‘a film music extravaganza’ attracted an enthusiastic audience aged 5 to 90! Listeners were treated to the full range of Williams’ critically acclaimed film music from well-known favourites such as Jaws and E.T. to more reflective pieces such as Dartmoor 1912 from War Horse, Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan and the haunting main theme from Schindler’s List which featured the exquisite solo violin playing of the Orchestra’s leader Adam Summerhayes.  

All the sections of the Orchestra had an opportunity to shine at one point or another and the whole concert experience was enhanced by subtle lighting from the De Montfort Hall’s newly improved lighting system.  A selection of music from the Star Wars films which ended the concert had conductor Claus Efland directing the orchestra with a splendid red Lightsaber (narrowly avoiding poking out the eyes of the cellists) and enthusiastic applause at the end of the concert was rewarded by the encore which everyone had been waiting for – Indiana Jones – in which Maestro Efland was transformed into Harrison Ford with the addition of the trademark battered leather jacket and Fedora hat. 

A happy audience went off into the late afternoon eagerly asking the front of house team ‘when will the next one be?’

You can find out about the orchestra’s upcoming concerts here.

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John Williams – one of the greatest film composers of all time

27th September 2023

On Sunday 8th October, the Bardi Symphony Orchestra kick off their new season at De Montfort Hall with a film music extravaganza celebrating the music of John Williams. We’ve taken a look at the composer’s life and how he has become one of the greatest film composers of all time.

For more than five decades, John Williams has been captivating audiences with his music, transporting cinema-goers to World War II, down into the murky waters of the ocean, into outer space and even to a galaxy far far away. With a staggering 53 nominations and five awards to his name, he is one of the most decorated people in Oscar history and one of the world’s most beloved composers. 

John Williams in 1996; conducting Saving Private Ryan in 1998 © Alamy

Following in his father’s musical footsteps, John began composition training at school, but his studies were interrupted in the early 1950s when he was drafted into the US Air Force, serving three years as a performer, conductor and arranger for the Air Force band. After this he began to work as a jazz pianist, and it was this experience that led him to compose his debut soundtrack, Daddy-O in 1958. Whilst the film itself was rather forgettable, Williams’ score was not, and after this first success his illustrious career began in earnest.

“Without John Williams, bikes don’t really fly, nor do brooms in Quidditch matches, nor do men in red capes. There is no Force, dinosaurs do not walk the Earth, we do not wonder, we do not weep, we do not believe.”

Steven Spielberg

Perhaps the most important milestone of John Williams’ career, and indeed film history, is the day he met Steven Spielberg. Their first collaboration was on The Sugarland Express (1974) and this was the beginning of arguably the greatest director/composer partnership of all time. Together the duo has produced over 20 films such as the blockbusters Jaws (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Jurassic Park (1993). 

In 1977, director George Lucas needed a composer capable of taking on the epic task of scoring his space opera, Star Wars. Spielberg immediately recommended Williams for the job, who matched the stunning visual effects on screen by delivering an expansive score, reminiscent of the music of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Both the original film and its music were a huge hit winning Williams his third Oscar. In 2005 Star Wars was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest American film score of all time.

Williams has composed well over a hundred film scores, many of which have become instant classics, with some of the world’s most recognisable music. His ability to utilise grand, brassy ‘American’ colours and a romantic orchestral sound makes for a magical combination. He also makes regular use of ‘leitmotifs’: assigning a short theme to a certain character or idea, which is then expertly woven into the score to enhance the film’s narrative.
This is especially evident in franchises such as Star Wars, Superman (1978) and Harry Potter (2001), where these themes can be heard across several films.

Not just a film composer, John Williams is also a classical composer and distinguished conductor, directing many of the world’s best orchestras, most notably the Boston Pops from 1980 to 1993. 

Join the Bardi on Sunday 8th October at De Montfort Hall to hear many of Williams’ best-loved scores at A Celebration of John Williams

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Bardi Chair, Jane Hanson receives CBE from HRH the Princess Royal

16th June 2023

Congratulations to Bardi Chair Jane Hanson who yesterday received her CBE  for services to Charity from the Princess Royal, on behalf of the King, at Windsor Castle. 

Jane was named in the Jubilee Honours list for the late Queen Elizabeth II last year. Aside from Chairing the Bardi Symphony Orchestra, Jane has worked tirelessly for high profile charities the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the Reclaim Fund (RFL). On a perfect day for the occasion Jane said that she had a ‘great (longer than normal apparently) chat with the Princess Royal’ about the work of the DEC which brings together 15 leading aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently when large-scale disasters hit countries without the capacity to respond.

She was also asked about her work with the Reclaim Fund (RFL) an organisation which unlocks the potential of dormant assets (such as unclaimed bank accounts) whilst at the same time safeguarding the rights of dormant asset holders and optimising the financial benefits for good causes. Jane told us that she even had time for a few words about Bardi!

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Bardi Wind at DMH a great success for heroes of the RNLI

12th June 2023

The Bardi Wind Orchestra rounded off their 30th anniversary season with their annual charity gala concert at De Montfort Hall on Sunday, this year fundraising in aid of the RNLI.

Well known in recent times from the BBCs programme ‘Saving Lives at Sea’ the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was the chosen charity for the Bardi Wind Orchestra’s annual charity gala in association with the Oadby and Wigston Lions Club. The charity receives no government funding but for almost 200 years has been saving lives from water in the most challenging conditions. Conductor David Calow chose a range of music appropriate to the invaluable work of the RNLI volunteers with the title ‘Heroes! Action and adventure from the Movies’. 

The BWO were joined by vocal soloists David Morris and Rebecca Temple who featured in each half and the programme was compered adeptly by  Colin Blackler with informative introductions to each piece (allowing the players to get their collective breath back). After the interval Colin had the opportunity to interview RNLI volunteers Brad and Alex who had travelled all the way from RNLI Skegness to be at the event. On stage, on probably the hottest afternoon of the summer so far, volunteer Alex wore his RNLI yellow crew equipment, of which the life jacket on it’s own weighed more than a heavy weekly shop. Launch authority Brad told us that he had come off a volunteer shift at 6am that morning! 

The programme for the concert included appropriate titles such as The Magnificent Seven, Band of Brothers, the Superman March and The Great Escape but perhaps the most appropriate piece had to be The Padstow Lifeboat, a march by English composer Malcolm Arnold complete with fog horn effects (thanks to a very good imitation by BWO lower brass).  Scene stealer for this number was David Calow who strode on to the stage and conducted in a fetching pair of borrowed bright yellow RNLI wellies!  The only thing missing was a lifeboat and even one of those (well, a model) was parked outside De Montfort Hall in the sunshine. Another great BWO concert to launch summer for the enthusiastic audience.

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The Bardi say a fond farewell to Richard Kauffman as he retires from the Orchestra

18th May 2023

The final concert of the Bardi season last Sunday was also the occasion when the Orchestra had to say a reluctant farewell to one of our most enthusiastic and loyal members, trumpet player Richard Kauffman, who has retired and moved to Scotland.

Richard had a long and distinguished career playing at various times with most of the major London Orchestras. Moving in later years to a senior music teaching post in this area, he has played in both the Bardi Symphony Orchestra and the Bardi Wind Orchestra. His wealth of professional experience has provided invaluable advice and guidance to players and to the Orchestra’s board members alike. All of this was reflected in a speech by acting (for the day!) Orchestra Manager David Calow who presented him with a picture of a Spitfire, painted by brother Robert Calow in appreciation of Richard’s enthusiasm for military aviation.

We wish Richard and his wife Rita a long and happy retirement. 

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Richard Kauffman on the De Montfort Hall stage at Sunday’s pre-concert rehearsal; Robert Calow’s painting of a Spitfire for Richard

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Bruch and Beethoven conclude the 2022-23 concert season at De Montfort Hall

15th May 2023

The Bardi 2022-23 season concluded on Sunday with a concert of classical favourites enthusiastically received by a good audience. 

Players and audience alike enjoyed the evergreen Bruch Violin Concerto when they were joined by international soloist Zoë Beyers, who is also the leader of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The Bardi concert was a total contrast to Zoë’s appearance with that Orchestra in the Eurovision song contest the previous evening, but an appearance she clearly relished. 

The concert opened with Weber’s Oberon Overture and concluded with Beethoven’s evocation of the countryside, Symphony No 6 the ‘Pastoral’. The perfect piece for a sunny, spring afternoon and the conclusion of a very successful season of varied concerts given by the Orchestra. Behind the scenes work is well advanced on our 2023-24 season, keep an eye on the website for emerging details! 

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The Bardi welcome soloist Zoë Beyers to perform the Bruch Violin Concerto

26th April 2023

The Bardi return to De Montfort Hall on Sunday 14th May with a concert of classical favourites from Bruch, Beethoven and Weber.

Alongside Beethoven’s Sixth ‘Pastoral’ Symphony and Weber’s Oberon Overture, the Orchestra will be performing Bruch’s ever-popular Violin Concerto No.1. To perform the concerto, the Bardi are delighted to welcome international soloist Zoë Beyers.

South-African born Zoë has established a reputation as one of the finest and most versatile violinists based in the UK, and performs worldwide as soloist, chamber musician, director and orchestral leader. In 2020 she was appointed Leader of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.  Zoë appears regularly as guest leader of the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, the CBSO, the Philharmonia, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orquesta Nacional de España at the invitation of Maestro Juanjo Mena. 

Since 2017, Zoë has been the concertmaster of the English Symphony Orchestra, collaborating closely with them as director and soloist. As a chamber musician Zoë appears with the Hebrides Ensemble, Nash Ensemble, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the London Sinfonietta.  She has recently joined the renowned Dante Quartet as their first violinist.  Zoë has a passionate interest in education, teaching at the Birmingham Conservatoire and coaching violinists and ensembles at the start of their careers.  She is proud to be involved in ARCO, a distance learning collaboration between Birmingham Conservatoire and students in deprived areas of South Africa. You can find out more about Zoë on her website www.zoebeyersviolin.com.

Photograph: Gail Secker


with international soloist and leader of the BBC Philharmonic Zoë Beyers


Sunday 14 May 3pm

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A Rodgers and Hammerstein Extravaganza at De Montfort Hall!

28th March 2023

Lights, Camera, Action! There was plenty of all three at the Bardi Orchestra’s ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein on the Silver Screen’ concert on Sunday.

Special lighting effects enhanced the performance on the stage, the action was provided in plenty by the Orchestra and West End soloists Shona Lindsay and Stephen John Davis who were all on sparkling form. The camera of David Calow was in action so that the event was captured for posterity and you can see his work below.  

Sadly much of the original material used for the film versions of these great musicals got lost and separated but British conductor and arranger John Wilson painstakingly and reassembled it for his memorable 2010 BBC Prom concert. It was this material that was used in the Bardi concert. The score called for a number of extra instruments such as saxophones and a massive percussion section so the stage was very full indeed. The concert had one direct connection to that 2010 Prom, the finale from Oklahoma! called for two extra soloists, local soprano Eleanor Charman, and from the Bardi violin section, to the surprise of Orchestra and audience, up stepped Michael Lessiter who actually sang in that 2010 Prom! Our biggest audience since the pandemic made this a concert to remember.  

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