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REVIEW: Harrogate Symphony Orchestra

NADV 1303083AM2 Bryan Western
NADV 1303083AM2 Bryan Western

The Harrogate Symphony Orchestra usually makes a point of ensuring that the last concert of the season is a real crowd-pleaser and this year’s was no exception.

A packed house of more than 650 people enjoyed an evening of music from the movies spanning more than 60 years.

There were, of course, blockbusters such as Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters, but also more reflective and some less well known numbers.

The opener ExodusT, from the 1960 film about the founding of modern Israel, may well have been new to some ears, but it is one of Henry Mancini’s most stirring film themes and it got the evening off to a great start.

The music of John Barry (born in York) was prominent, with soaring themes from Out of Africa and Born Free, followed later by a selection from James Bond.

John Williams was also, predictably, heavily featured, but in contrasting style: straight after his epic Star Wars selection, we were treated to a beautiful and poignant rendition of the theme from Schindler’s List, by leader Emma Shea on the violin.

Other features included oboist Chris Garbutt with Gabriel’s Oboe from Enio Morricone’s music for The Mission and the ever-hardworking trumpet section in Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra from 2001.

This was an extensive and varied programme which, while working the whole orchestra hard, gave it full rein to show off its talents.

Some of the arrangements, such as Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt and Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore, looked deceptively straightforward on paper, but there were tempo and style changes a-plenty to be negotiated and the orchestra took these in its stride to give a confident and engaging performance.

Conductor Bryan Western was in ebullient form and kept the audience informed and entertained, even if the length of the programme dictated that there was little time for background information. He could not resist, however, the chance to repeatedly cry “Who ya gonna call?” in the rocking Ghostbusters finale, which drew shouts of approval and a welcome encore.

The orchestra will enjoy a summer break and have already started preliminary work towards their November 17 concert, when world-leading guitarist Craig Ogden will join them to play Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez in what ought to be another full-house performance.