It may have been a cold January night, but that didn’t stop audiences from attending Darlington Orchestra’s Winter Concert to have the sound of music warm their hearts.

With a programme ranging from classical to contemporary pieces from across the globe, and the added bonus of Esh Community Gospel choir and Sophia Nikolaiets showcasing their vocal delights, it was going to be a concert which audiences wouldn’t forget.

Conductor David Plews began the concert with a piece by Dvořák “Sonatina Symfonicka”. This punchy piece is a showcase for the talents of the lower strings, keeping the pulse of the music pushing along throughout the three movements. With such excitement from the start, audiences couldn’t wait to see where the orchestra would take us next.

Darlington Orchestra Winter Concert 2018 (2)

“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” at the end of the first half transported us back to the swinging jazz era of 1920s New York City. The piece by Richard Rogers (arranged by Jack Mason) tested the skills of the orchestra with changing moods and tricky tremolos which other orchestras may have struggled to achieve.

Esh Community Gospels brought an acapella feel to the night, with the song “Didn’t My Lord Deliver” standing out for its jazz-like feel. The group performed a variety of traditional gospel songs with two modern pieces and “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers had audience members swaying and singing in their seats.

Sophia Nikolaiets’ performance of “Ava Maria” was a delicate demonstration of her remarkable vocal range at such a young age! Darlington Orchestra accompanied Sophia, with the woodwind and strings imitating the delicateness within the voice.

Many orchestras would struggle to refine their dynamics so as not to overpower the voice, but under David’s instruction Darlington Orchestra provided full orchestral backing with the voice still at the forefront of the music.

For audience members who wanted to join in, the final piece, “Abba Medley”, had people singing along to the likes of “Money, Money, Money” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You”. Then it was time for Darlington Orchestra to send us on our way with anticipation for the next concert already in the air.

Photos: Ian Bain