Things went with a swing on Saturday, January 26th, 2019 as Darlington Orchestra performed its Winter Concert in front of a packed house in the town’s Central Hall.
In a programme spanning three centuries and two continents the orchestra, under the baton of David Plews, set off on an engaging European journey taking in waltzes, a polka and a spot of marching along the way before going transatlantic to showcase Henry Mancini and legendary Hollywood crooner Bing Crosby.
The mood was set with Johann Strauss the Younger’s Waldmeister Overture, by turns lively and lilting, followed by the melodic Slavonic Serenade by British bandleader and conductor Charles Shadwell.
Famous names filled the programme: Bedrich Smetana’s Bartered Bride festive polka upped the tempo beautifully; Mozart featured through one of his best-known tunes the energetic Turkish March; Haydn with the Minuet and Trio from his so-called “Surprise” Symphony; and there was a lovely selection of Tchaikovsky waltzes, including those from Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty ballets.
Some less-familiar pieces thrown into the mix added further layers of interest for both performers and audience. Caprice Hongrois, or Hungarian Caprice, by Italian-born composer Ferraris is a stirring folk-influenced work that made technical demands in the violin solos, to which orchestra leader Iryna Zagorna was more than equal.
Another unexpected delight was the rumbunctious Banditenstreiche Tours de Bandits, or Jolly Robbers Overture, by Franz von Supp, which more than lived up to its name, painting pictures of the sometimes swaggering, sometimes furtive, but decidedly always jolly robbers.
As always, the concert featured guest performers, in this case the Cockerton Prize Silver Band, who demonstrated their skill and versatility with pieces as diverse as the haunting Benedictus and the smile-inducing theme from The Muppet Show.
Rounding off another successful concert was Mancini’s Charade, written for the movie thriller of that name and wonderfully evocative of a lonely walk through empty Paris streets where part of the story was set, before the orchestra signed off on a cheerful note with a Crosby medley, going out with a Bing.
You can find out more about the Darlington Orchestra and their upcoming shows on their website.
Written by Elaine Barnett