REVIEW: St Cecilia Orchestra, Holy Trinity, Ripon

Toby White
Toby White

The St Cecilia Orchestra’s Spring concert was held at the Holy Trinity Church in Ripon. This is an excellent venue where thought has been given to combining acts of worship and the ability to provide a venue for the people of Ripon and district to enjoy musical performances.

Excellent facilities, comfortable seating, café meeting area in the crypt and a lift for those who have poor mobility.

The concert was an eclectic mix of composers from Haydn, Sibelius through to Prokofiev and Schostakovich. As always the St Cecilia Orchestra is made up of a mix of amateur and professional musicians which is their core strength because there is always such a strong pool to draw from; not forgetting their Director of music and conductor, Xen Kelsey without whom there would be no St Cecilia Orchestra.

First off we had Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1 The Classical Symphony – this is one of his most popular and favourite works, said to be loosely based on Haydn’s style.

The first movement lived up to its title of Allegro full blast. The orchestra took a moment to gather itself but was quickly up to their normal top class skills. The second movement was full of pizzicato, the third movement is the one we most often hear on Classic FM, delightful. The woodwind were top notch in the Finale.

Next was Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 1. and tonight’s soloist was Toby White. Toby is a Riponian, his mother Liz White is a regular player in the St Cecilia Orchestra.

What a performance of this viciously difficult and complicated composition. It runs for 28 minutes and every moment is full of fierce and sudden strokes with the timpani erupting like explosions.

Toby started to play the cello aged five and he’s obviously moved since then. I loved it and so did the audience. Must not forget the St Cecilia Orchestra which had equally complex music to tackle!

After the interval we enjoyed Sibelius’s Romance for Strings – a complete contrast to Shostakovich’s assault on our senses.

Written in 1915 it was the second of four short pieces and pleasant to the ear. The finale for the evening was Haydn’s Symphony No 99 in E flat.

I thought I knew most of Haydn’s London Symphonies, but this slipped by me. Haydn’s music is always tuneful and No 99 was no exception; the first movement the theme is repeated with many variations, the Adagio is a delight with its musicality, the Menuetto is as its name describes and is mostly in waltz time. Finale Vivace is boisterous and energetic.

A wonderful evening of music making. Toby White is a name to watch out for, a magnificent performance.