Review: Vacation Chamber Orchestra

Louis Baily

Louis Baily

Two firsts for me – One I’ve never seen the Vacation Chamber Orchestra, to give it its full name, perform and I’ve never been to St John’s Church, Sharow, both a positive experience.

To those of you like me unaware of the VaCO’s existence it is another example of Xen Kelsey’s endless challenge of encouraging and supporting all aspects of the performing of classical music in North Yorkshire and surrounding area.

Essentially VaCO is a youth orchestra ages running from late teens to early twenties, gathered from around the area and tonight we had three soloists, all previous or current members of VaCO.

These were Louis Baily, cello, Sam Gillespie, clarinettist and Billy Marshall, horn. The programme was very interesting commencing with Carl Nielsen’s Suite for strings, Op.1 written in 1888 at the age of 22 and first performed in Copenhagen.

The first movement is soulful and the second more in waltz time while the third is more expansive. First opportunity to experience these young players, bearing in mind they had only two days of working together, was exciting and no conductor.

Next we had a well known composition by Heinrich Baerman, written for clarinet and strings it’s a delightful piece and Sam Gillespie showed his abilities brilliantly, although it seems endemic that clarinettists can’t stand still and he was typical of the genre.

Third item was back into the 18th century with Boccerini’s famous Concerto No 9 in B flat major always a delight to hear, particularly the third movement. Louis Bally, just 20 years old, the cello soloist was brilliant and has a great future ahead of him.

Mozart’s Quintet for Horn and Strings K407 1st Movt was a delight with Billy Marshall on Horn , Oliver Baily violin, Katie le Feuvre and Kate de Campos violas and Maria Marshall cello. As one would expect knowing Xen Kelsey’s involvement, Billy Marshall’s horn playing was pretty well as good as it gets. Next we had Martinu’s Serenade for Clarinet , Horn and strings played by the full ensemble and the concert was completed by Malcolm Arnold’s Symphony for strings Op.13. Written during the 2nd world war it is very much typical of Arnold with a lot of pizzicato. Interestingly young Billy Marshall conducted this piece and showed another side to his musical abilities.

I was very impressed by the Vacation Chamber orchestra and hope it will continue to be supported by the local community. Xen Kelsey and Jane I understand were in New Zealand over the Christmas break, but his control probably travels from afar and they are all to be commended.

St John’s Church, Sharow, was good with hospitality and acoustics – all in all an evening of good music making.