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Lovely Saturday Afternoon with Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus at Coventry Central Halll Saturday 15 April.

Review by Anne Cee.

A fabulous Saturday afternoon of music thanks to the lovely soft acoustics of Coventry’s pretty Central Hall and the remarkable sound of the Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and their four, super, invited soloists.

Esteemed Conductor, Jack Lovell-Huckle, and Leader, Alistair Kennedy, led the spring concert which was also a fitting tribute and farewell to the founder of Spires Music, the generous and respected, Colin Touchin, who died last year after a lifetime of musical service to Coventry’s communities and schools.

The first piece, Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 in E minor is often known as “From the New World” as it was written in the USA but it’s very grounded in UK popular culture and it took some of us back to wholemeal bread advertisements as the Cor Anglais wound its way through the golden nostalgia of bicycle delivery boys of yesteryear struggling up steep cobbled streets with loaves of Hovis.

It’s fair to say that the woodwind section found the lyrical beauty throughout the symphony and allowed us to sail up into the clouds in a flight of sweet imagination that made my skin prickle several times. Special mentions must go to Chloe Peterson (Cor Anglais), Denise Pandya (Clarinet), Simon Cooper (Oboe) and Alex Preston (Bassoon) and their seconds, who delivered something truly beautiful.

The second piece was by American composer, Amy Beach. Her Mass in E flat offered a wonderful platform for Natasha Agarwal (Soprano), Gaynor Keeble (Mezzo-soprano), Ed Harrison (Tenor) and Peter Lidbetter (Baritone) who all have operatic roles in their repertoires, including Keeble at the Royal Opera House, Agarwal at Welsh National Opera, Harrison at the Midland Opera Company and Lidbetter at Garsington Festival Opera.

Gaynor Keeble, in particular, delivered a moving performance throughout the piece and has a voice I could listen to all day, and I hope to catch Lidbetter later in the season, perhaps at Garsington in Oxfordshire, whose best moments came towards the end of the Agnus Dei and who left me wanting to hear much more.

All in all, a wonderful afternoon of exceptionally good music. I struggle to think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon and am looking forward to the Spires’ next concert already.


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