Remembering the Prague 1996 Tour

5th August, 2022

Following on from the hugely successful, ground breaking tour to St. Petersburg in the Easter of 1994, Founder Music Director Andrew Constantine then planned an even more ambitious 12 day tour travelling by coach to eastern Europe, based in Prague, during August 1996.

Five concerts took place, two in Prague and others in Karlovy Vary, Marianski Lazne and in the famous Palace at Kromeriz. The Symphony Orchestra performed repertoire including the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade together the Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, with leader Adam Summerhayes as soloist. The Orchestra rehearsed in the Prague Opera House and the extended nature of the tour meant that the players were able to also take in sight seeing in Prague and explore the various other concert locales.

Not being content with just a purely Orchestral tour, Andrew then planned for the Orchestra to be joined for the final few days by the Bardi Symphony Chorus to perform Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony. This was for Karlovy Vary, Kromeriz and then for the final concert on Tuesday 13th August in the Rudolfinum concert hall in Prague, the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. This high-profile civic concert also included the Brahms Double Concerto performed by the stunning Czech duo of violinist Jan Talich and cellist Jiri Bárta.

A much remembered party then took place straight afterwards for all concerned with everyone departing for Leicester on the four coaches in the early hours. One of the orchestra coaches then broke down at the Czech/German border, but that is another story…

Watch highlights from the tour

Top row: CD artwork from Beethoven Symphony No.9 concert recording at The Rudolfinum, with concert poster, right.
Bottom row: Prague scenes – Countryside Park, Mechanical Clock and The Rudolfinum.

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Exploring the Bardi’s long history performing Elgar

24th April 2022

Edward Elgar is by some distance the most performed composer over the years by the Bardi.

The sheer range of repertoire is breath-taking including the large-scale Second Symphony, The Dream of Gerontius and The Music Makers all being performed twice. It is perhaps not a surprise that the Enigma Variations is the most popular orchestral work with three performances.

Of the two string concertos, there is only one performance of the Violin Concerto to date by the Bardi Leader of that time, Jagdish Mistry, in 1993. However, the Cello Concerto has been performed four times and also during the Bardi’s SaarLorLux tour in 1998. The Concerto also appears on the Orchestra’s first CD release in 1995 with soloist Leonid Gorokhov. Raphael Wallfisch was the first soloist performing the Concerto in 1991 for a charity concert raising over £3,000 for the Jaqueline Du Pré appeal. There is also a performance of the Sea Pictures song cycle but unusually with baritone soloist, Jeremy Huw Williams on that occasion.

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The two popular concert overtures Cockaigne and In the South appear as do the Introduction and Allegro for string orchestra and the smaller String Serenade. ‘Last Night of the Proms’ type concerts have also included the Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, with perhaps the most memorable being in front of a 5,000 capacity audience at the EXCEL Centre in London.

There are also some real Elgar rarities with the Falstaff symphonic study, The March of the Mogul Emperors (from the Crown of India Suite) and (as performed to start this current season) the Bach Fantasia and Fugue orchestration.

1995 – Cello Concerto CD sleeve with soloist Leonid Gorokhov

Despite all of the Elgar performances over the years, one main work had eluded the Bardi – the Symphony No.1 in A-flat major. Sunday 15th May 2022 finally saw the Orchestra perform this epic symphonic masterpiece in De Montfort Hall. The all-Elgar concert also includes the String Serenade and Cello Concerto with soloist Lydia Shelley.

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Remembering the 1998 ‘SaarLorLux’ Tour

8th April, 2022

During the 35th concert season the Bardi will be looking back at some of the highlights from the Orchestra’s three-and-a-half-decade history. This month, we fondly remember the ‘SaarLorLux’ Tour in April 1998…

24 years ago this month, the Bardi Symphony Orchestra and their founder Music Director Andrew Constantine embarked on their third European tour, performing in Saarbrücken, Metz and Luxembourg. Performing at three esteemed concert halls, the programmes included Delius’s Walk to the Paradise Garden, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (soloist, Adam Summerhayes), and the Elgar Cello Concerto (soloist, Leonid Gorkov). 

The Orchestra were accompanied on the tour by the Bardi Symphony Chorus who performed Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast in each concert with baritone soloist Jeremy Huw Williams. The performances of Belshazzar’s Feast on the tour were sponsored by The Walton Trust and the concert in Luxembourg was a distinguished occasion, marking the departure of the British Ambassador, Nick Elam.

The tour was a resounding success not only in the concert hall performances, where the Orchestra and Chorus were great ambassadors for Leicester and the UK, but also as a great opportunity for the players and singers, normally totally focussed on rehearsing, to spend some time socialising.

Watch highlights from the tour

Above: the Orchestra performing Belshazzar’s Feast at Luxembourg Conservatoire, with the tour programme cover; City views: Metz, Saarbrücken, Luxembourg City.

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