St Gregory's Orchestra
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Princes Street URC, Norwich
The 20th anniversary of the St Gregory's Orchestra, which has given more than 150 concerts, called for a celebration. Conductor Martin Wyatt is not the man to miss such an opportunity. But with typical artistic generosity he happily shared the evening with his colleagues.
So the programme opened with three duets, two by Nicola Greenwood, and sung by her and Valerie Clarke in a delightful simple manner.
Next, in a completely different style, Peter Stevenson, the organist of the church, presented the heady emotions of the final movement of Boellmann's 19th century Gothic Suite.
Rachael Turner was the soloist of the first performance of the Concertino for Violin and Small Orchestra, a new work composed by Kenneth Hytch. He took us through a world of emotions in music starting with a gipsy lilt.
Then the orchestra ambitiously tackled Sibelius's Second Symphony. This massive work made demands on every instrumental section, and, despite some problems over intonation, the conductor and the leader (Alison Mills) held the forces together and brought them through to the grand conclusion.
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Time and again telling effects were brought off, with energetic rhythms as well as a rainbow of colour. A well-judged drum roll announced the start of a new episode, plucked strings added a new dimension to the pallet of sound, and the woodwind had its poignant moments. The brass had the last word, properly triumphant in proclamation.
There can be no doubt: Martin Wyatt has laboured valiantly.